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Lorigan student first author of cover article in Journal of Magnetic Resonance

05/29/2009

Justin Newstadt, Miami ’07, is the first author of the cover article of the May 2009 issue of the Journal of Magnetic Resonance.
Justin Newstadt, Miami ’07, is the first author of the cover article of the May 2009 issue of the Journal of Magnetic Resonance, based on research he conducted with faculty mentor Gary Lorigan, professor of chemistry and biochemistry.

Newstadt, who is now in medical school at the University of Louisville, wrote “Determining the helical tilt of membrane peptides using electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy” with co-authors Daniel Mayo, graduate student in chemistry and biochemistry; Johnson Inbaraj, former postdoctoral fellow; Nidhi Subbaraman, biochemistry major, Miami ’09; and Lorigan.

The article describes using an electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) spectroscopy-based method to identify the helical tilt angle of an α-helix of a membrane protein. The identification and characterization of the α-helix structure of a membrane protein can be used to determine the three-dimensional structure of the protein embedded inside in the membrane, according to the study authors.

Lorigan and his research group have developed a new method for probing the structural properties of membrane proteins using EPR spectroscopy and solid-state nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Their initial work was highlighted by the journal Nature Methods as a “promising new structural biology tool.”

Membrane proteins, which make up approximately one-third of the total number of proteins, are essential for many important functions of biological systems. Despite the abundance and importance of membrane proteins, little structural information about them exists. Located in the oily two-layer membrane that holds cells together, they are not water-soluble and are more difficult to study than soluble proteins. According to the National Institutes of Health, “…solving membrane protein structures is feasible albeit difficult, so innovative approaches are clearly still needed.”

Lorigan’s research is supported by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation and the American Heart Association.

Newstadt conducted research with Lorigan for three years at Miami. Subbaraman, who was a 2008-2009 Beckman Scholar, has worked with Lorigan since her first year at Miami. She will attend graduate school at MIT this fall.

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