The Barth lab is interested in how signals are faithfully transmitted across biological membranes. How do receptors sense and respond to diverse ligands? How do receptors communicate with each other in the membrane? How do receptor-receptor interactions modulate signaling? Can we recapitulate these properties by design and rewire signaling pathways? Can we engineer powerful living cells with novel biosensing or therapeutic properties through designed proteins with new functions?
We address these questions using a combination of molecular modeling, computational protein design, bioinformatics and experimental approaches to model, design and reprogram receptor/ligand/effector interaction networks. Our long-term goal is to 1) deconstruct the complex function and quantitatively describe the basic principles underlying these signaling networks and 2) engineer protein and cellular systems of interests for synthetic biology and therapeutic applications.
We are part of the Rosetta Commons, a community of developers for the software platform Rosetta. Our lab develops an ensemble of physical models and computational methods to model and design receptor structures and interactions, which we implement into the package, RosettaMembrane. We also combine experimental data with computational techniques to model specific functional states of receptors. Finally, we cross-validate experimentally the predictions in our own lab or in collaboration with other research groups.
This interdisciplinary approach is essential to our research and we welcome students and postdocs with computational and experimental backgrounds to continue fostering a very collaborative environment in the lab.