Christine Salomon

Center for Drug Design
University of Minnesota

Applied natural products discovery and development

My research program is focused on harnessing the inspiration provided by chemical compounds made in nature. 

We are interested in the discovery of completely new molecular structures as well as developing applications for previously described compounds (and the microbes that produce them). Some of our recent projects have centered around developing and characterizing the chemistry of biological control microbes for disease treatments.

Mark Distefano

College of Science and Engineering
University of Minnesota

Protein prenylation, the anchor of life

Protein prenylation is a post-translational modification that consists of the attachment of 15 or 20 carbon isoprenoids near the C-termini of proteins.

In a eukaryotic cell, there are several hundred prenylated proteins including most members of the Ras superfamily and heterotrimeric G-proteins; the prenyl group serves to anchor these proteins in the membrane so that they are positioned to interact with cell surface receptors either directly or via adaptor proteins.

This means that essentially all signaling processes in eukaryotic cells require the participation of prenylated proteins for everything ranging from the regulation of cell division to stem cell differentiation and development. 

In this short presentation, I will describe our work in developing chemical probes to study this process in order to learn about the biology of prenylation, develop new inhibitors with therapeutic potential and use lipid modification for biotechnology applications.