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About the Center for Molecular Recognition

The Center for Molecular Recognition was founded in 1989 to provide a focus for research on the structure and function of membrane receptors and transport proteins. It consists of independent groups working on different proteins but sharing concepts, approaches, space and equipment. Current research is focused on nicotinic acetylcholine receptors, dopamine receptors, and neurotransmitter transporters. A bacterial potassium channel is being used in the development of methodologies to be applied to the less plentiful eukaryotic receptors and transporters.

Among the recent achievements have been the mapping of the lining of the ion-conducting channel of the acetylcholine receptor and of its gate in the resting, open, and desensitized states, the mapping of the entire binding-site-crevice of the dopamine D2 receptor, the identification of the specificity-determining residues of the D2 and D4 receptors, and the demonstration of the dimeric structure of the dopamine transporter and dopamine D2 receptor. Unique approaches developed in the Center for these investigations are now used world-wide. The universality of receptors and transport proteins and the unity of biological mechanisms allow us to generalize insights into a few specific proteins to many others of the same class. The faculty of the Center are Arthur Karlin, Ph.D., Higgins Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, and Neurology, and Director of the Center, and Jonathan Javitch, M.D., Ph.D., Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology. Currently there are ten post-doctoral researchers and graduate students.


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