Gunnar von Heijne
Professor in Biochemistry
Membrane proteins serve a number of very important functions in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. They are built according to structural principles different from those of globular proteins. A full understanding of membrane proteins requires a conceptual framework where processes of protein translocation across membranes and the physical chemistry of lipid-protein interactions play major roles.
Work in our lab has pointed to the central importance of positively charged amino acids as determinants of membrane protein topology, has led to the development of new theoretical methods for predicting transmembrane segments, and has illuminated many aspects of membrane protein assembly in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells. Ongoing work is directed towards a better understanding of the folding and assembly of membrane proteins.