Conformational change is integral to the function of many proteins, but it is difficult to observe using current methods, particularly in complex, physiologically relevant environments. I am developing a solvent exposure-based method that will allow us to observe these conformational changes.
I am creating a way to solve high-resolution protein structures within the living cell. I do this by first chemically cross-linking adjacent protein residues inside the cell and then detecting the cross-links by mass spectrometry. This gives residue-residue distance constraints from which the structure can be solved computationally.