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Barry Bruce




Eukaryotic cells are defined by their topological complexity. This elaborate compartmentalization enables the metabolic diversity that permits higher order organization into distinct cell and tissue types. However, the membranes that delineate these discreet compartments also present a fundamental barrier for the movement of proteins from their site of synthesis in the cytoplasm. Protein trafficking is the study of the mechanism of how proteins are targeted with high fidelity and efficiency to their ultimate cellular destination. This field involves investigations into protein structure, membrane biophysics, and molecular cell biology.

My laboratory investigates how proteins are targeted and translocated into the plant-specific organelle, the Plastid. This organelle has evolved via endosymbiosis from a free living prokaryotic into one of the most well studied organelles in biology. Although plastids only maintain a minimal genome, the organelle probably performs a complete "prokaryotic" repertoire of metabolic activities. This diverse metabolism has been estimated to require no less that 3000 gene products, most of which have been transferred from the plastid genome into the nuclear genome. These gene products are redirected to their "ancestral" compartment via the acquisition of a transit peptide. The transit peptide is a "new" sequence that has been evolutionarily inserted N-terminal to the coding sequence and has been shown to be both necessary and sufficient to ensure high fidelity transport back into the organelle.

Progress in genomics research has identified thousands of these transit peptides, yet their lack of sequence similarity has suggested an "encoding of information" that has thus far eluded deciphered. How thousands of short sequences (40-80 a.a) can contain common and requisite information, yet reflect no primary similarities suggest that there is some level of secondary or tertiary structure that ensures common activity. My laboratory is attempting to elucidate this unique form of targeting information by a using a combination of approaches including computation analysis, site-directed mutagenesis, structural biology (NMR and CD), and in vitro / in vivo cell biological studies. This work is supported by the NSF Program in Cell Biology.


Structure and function of POTRA domains of Omp85/TPS superfamily. Simmerman RF, Dave AM, Bruce BD. Int Rev Cell Mol Biol. 2014;308:1-34. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-12-800097-7.00001-4.

Growing green electricity: Progress and strategies for use of Photosystem I for sustainable photovoltaic energy conversion. Nguyen K, Bruce BD. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2014 Jan 3. pii: S0005-2728(13)00234-X. doi: 10.1016/j.bbabio.2013.12.013. [Epub ahead of print]

No-boundary thinking in bioinformatics research. Huang X, Bruce B, Buchan A, Congdon CB, Cramer CL, Jennings SF, Jiang H, Li Z, McClure G, McMullen R, Moore JH, Nanduri B, Peckham J, Perkins A, Polson SW, Rekepalli B, Salem S, Specker J, Wunsch D, Xiong D, Zhang S, Zhao Z. BioData Min. 2013 Nov 6;6(1):19. [Epub ahead of print]

Photocurrent generation from surface assembled photosystem I on alkanethiol modified electrodes. Manocchi AK, Baker DR, Pendley SS, Nguyen K, Hurley MM, Bruce BD, Sumner JJ, Lundgren CA. Langmuir 2013 Feb 19;29(7):2412-9. doi: 10.1021/la304477u. Epub 2013 Feb 4

Modulation of cyanobacterial photosystem I deposition properties on alkanethiolate Au substrate by various experimental conditions. Mukherjee D, Vaughn M, Khomami B, Bruce BD. Colloids Surf B Biointerfaces. 2011 Nov 1;88(1):181-90. Epub 2011 Jul 19.

Optimization of photosynthetic hydrogen yield from platinized photosystem I complexes using response surface methodology. Iwuchukwu IJ, Iwuchukwu E, Le R, Paquet C, Sawhney R, Bruce BD, Frymier P Int J Hydrogen Energ 2011 Sep;36(18):11684-11692.

Controlling the morphology of Photosystem I assembly on thiol-activated Au substrates. Mukherjee D, May M, Vaughn M, Bruce BD, Khomami B. Langmuir. 2010 Oct 19;26(20):16048-54.

Self-organized photosynthetic nanoparticle for cell-free hydrogen production. Iwuchukwu IJ, Vaughn M, Myers N, O'Neill H, Frymier P, Bruce BD. Nat Nanotechnol. 2010 Jan;5(1):73-9. Epub 2009 Nov 8.

Luminescent solar concentrators employing phycobilisomes. Mulder CL, Theogarajan L, Currie M, Mapel JK, Baldo MA, Vaughn M, Willard P, Bruce BD, Moss MW, McLain CE, Morseman JP. Adv Materials. 2009. Aug;21(31):3181-5. Epub 2009 Apr 20.

Designer peptide surfactants stabilize functional photosystem-I membrane complex in aqueous solution for extended time. Matsumoto K, Vaughn M, Bruce BD, Koutsopoulos S, Zhang S. J Phys Chem B. 2009 Jan 8;113(1):75-83.

Nano-scale characterization of the dynamics of the chloroplast Toc translocon. Reddick LE, Chotewutmontri P, Crenshaw W, Dave A, Vaughn M, Bruce BD. Methods Cell Biol. 2008;90:365-98.

Antimicrobial efficacy of eugenol microemulsions in milk against Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli O157:H7. Gaysinsky S, Taylor TM, Davidson PM, Bruce BD, Weiss J. J Food Prot. 2007 Nov;70(11):2631-7.

In vitro comparative kinetic analysis of the chloroplast Toc GTPases. Reddick LE, Vaughn MD, Wright SJ, Campbell IM, Bruce BD. J Biol Chem. 2007 Apr 13;282(15):11410-26. Epub 2007 Jan 29.

Structural and functional changes in ultrasonicated bovine serum albumin solutions. Gülseren I, Güzey D, Bruce BD, Weiss J. Ultrason Sonochem. 2007 Feb;14(2):173-83. Epub 2006 Sep 7.

Characterization of antimicrobial-bearing liposomes by zeta-potential, vesicle size, and encapsulation efficiency. Taylor TM, Gaysinsky S, Davidson PM, Bruce BD, Weiss J. Food Biophys. 2007. 2(1):1-9.

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