Dr. Paul Weers (Chemistry & Biochemistry)
Ph.D., Department of Biological Sciences, Utrecht University, Netherlands (1994)
Post-doctoral training, Department of Biochemistry, University of Alberta, CanadaAssistant Scientist, Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute, California
My research aims to investigate apolipoprotein structure and function. Apolipoproteins (e.g. apoE, apoAI, and apoLp-III) play a critical role in lipid transport processes, and are associated with several types of disease such as arteriosclerosis. ApoLp-III, a small α-helical protein, is used as a model to study the structure-function relationship. It is a well characterized insect protein sharing a remarkable resemblance with human apoE. The protein exists in lipid-free and lipid-bound states, the latter being the biologically active form. To increase our understanding how apolipoproteins work, we aim to gain insight in their lipid binding properties employing a combination of molecular biology, biochemistry and biophysics. This involves bacterial protein expression, site-directed mutagenesis, fluorescence and circular dichroism spectroscopy. Recent studies showed a new role for apolipoproteins in innate immunity and we are currently investigating this novel function.