Reza Vafabakhsh Assistant Professor

Research Summary:

The brain is a network of billions of neurons that are interconnected by synapses. Each synapse is made up of more than a thousand different proteins, that exist at a wide range of copy numbers from just a few to thousands, and ordered in a volume of micrometer in length scale. The focus of our lab is to acquire a quantitative mechanistic characterization of synaptic players at different length scales, from a single protein to the synapse level, to describe this complexity and towards understanding of the molecular nature of information processing in the brain. We do so by developing quantitative biophysical and cell biology analyses using cutting edge single molecule and high throughput approaches that draw from cell biology, chemistry, physics and engineering.

Selected Publications:

Structural dynamics of potassium-channel gating revealed by single-molecule FRET. Wang S, Vafabakhsh R, Borschel WF, Ha T, and Nichols CG. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 2016 January;23(1):31-36.

Conformational dynamics of a class C G-protein-coupled receptorVafabakhsh R, Levitz J, and Isacoff EY. Nature. 2015 August 27;524(7566):497-501.

Single-molecule packaging initiation in real time by a viral DNA packaging machine from bacteriophage T4Vafabakhsh R, Kondabagil K, Earnest T, Lee KS, Zhang Z, Dai L, Dahmen KA, Rao VB, and Ha T. PNAS.2014 October 21;111(42):15096-15101. 

Extreme Bendability of DNA Less than 100 Base Pairs Long Revealed by Single-Molecule CyclizationVafabakhsh R and Ha T. Science. 2012 August 31;337(6098):1097-1101.

One influenza virus particle packages eight unique viral RNAs as shown by FISH analysis. Chou Y-Y, Vafabakhsh R, Doganay S, Gao Q, Ha T, and Palese P. PNAS. 2012 June 5;109(23):9101-9106.