James Bowie

 Bowie Lab Research Interests

Membrane protein structure

A third of all proteins and the vast majority of drug targets are membrane proteins. In spite of their biological and medical importance, our understanding of membrane protein structure and function is still at a rudimentary level and our tools for working with membrane proteins are primitive. The questions we are addressing in this area are:

  • Can we develop better techniques for membrane protein expression?
  • Can we develop better techniques for membrane protein crystallization?
  • How are membrane protein structures defined by their amino acid sequence?
  • Can we learn to predict membrane protein structure?

SAM Domains: A Biological Polymer

SAM domains are one of the most common protein modules found in eukaryotic cells. We discovered that many SAM domains can form polymers, establishing the existence of a new biological polymer that can be used to build complex biological structures. The questions we address in this area are:

  • What structures can SAM domain polymers form?
  • What are the biological roles of SAM polymers?
  • How can SAM polymerization be regulated?
  • How can SAM polymers be used in bio-engineering applications?

Synthetic Biochemistry for Green Production of Chemicals and Biofuels

We are developing methods for producing useful chemicals from biomass by building novel biochemical systems outside of cells.  This approach, which we call synthetic biochemistry, can provide extremely high yeilds and offers considerable flexibility compared to cell-based approaches.