Peter L. Davies, Ph.D., FRSC
Canada Research Chair in Protein Engineering
Professor, School of Medicine
Dept of Biological and Molecular Sciences
Botterell Hall, Room 643
Canada K7L 3N6
Dr. Peter L. Davies
We are studying the relationship between structure and function in two different types of proteins: antifreeze proteins (AFPs), which help organisms resist or tolerate freezing, and calpains, enzymes that selectively cut proteins within the cell in response to calcium signals.
Antifreeze proteins are found in some fishes, insects, plants and microorganisms. They bind to ice crystals and prevent them from growing to a size where they would damage the host. Our research involves the isolation and characterization of antifreeze proteins from different sources, the study of their evolution, and the cloning and expression of their genes to produce recombinant proteins for 3-D structural analysis by NMR and/or X-ray crystallography.
They are proving to have remarkably diverse structures. We are trying to identify their ice-binding sites/residues using site-directed mutagenesis in order to learn more about their mechanism(s) of action and what structural features are required for binding to ice. We are also trying to design new AFPs based on this information and to engineer improvements in existing AFPs.