Research

Ras Converting Enzyme (Rce1). The oncogenic Ras proteins are small GTPases that belong to the large super-family of G-proteins. These proteins are involved in cellular signal transduction and as such have a prominent role in carcinogenesis. Rce1, an integral membrane protein, is a key modifying enzyme required during the post-translational modification of Ras. Small molecule inhibitors with increased potency against Rce1 would greatly aid in the investigation of the physiological role of Rce1 in Ras regulation. We are using a two-pronged approach: (1) derivatization of compounds identified through screening libraries and (2) molecular modeling and virtual screening of compound libraries.

Plasmodium falciparum Haloacid Dehalogenase Enzymes 1 and 2 (HAD1 and HAD2). Nearly half of the world's population is at risk of malaria, leading to approximately 429,000 malaria deaths in 2015, with 90% of malaria cases occurring in Sub-Saharan Africa. Commonly used therapies are becoming increasingly ineffective due to resistance by the parasite of the Plasmodium species, the causative agent of the disease. There is an urgent need to develop new drugs. The haloacid dehalogenases (HADs) are a large enzyme superfamily comprised of more than 500,000 members with roles in many metabolic pathways. These enzymes are phosphatases, and they have not yet been explored fully in Plasmodium, but could be key to survival of the parasite.  We are utilizing a mixture of computational techniques to discover inhibitors and activators of HAD1 and HAD2 to assess their potential as new targets for the treatment of malaria.