EXROP Projects: Tom A. Rapoport

Tom A. Rapoport


Tom Rapoport is interested in the mechanism by which proteins are transported across membranes and how organelles form and maintain their characteristic shapes.

Scientific Disciplines: Cell Biology, Structural Biology
Organisms: Yeast/fungi, Bacteria
Summer Lab Size: 20
Local Summer Program: Harvard EXROP Summer Experience
Program Dates: June 9-August 16, 2014 (Dates for 2015 should be similar)

Structural Studies of Protein Translocation in Bacterial Pathogenecity

Despite the wide variety of antibiotics available today, bacterial
infections remain the most common diseases in humans. Pathogenic
gram-positive and mycobacteria are the main species contributing to the most
prevalent bacterial infections. Both types of organisms export virulence
factors via an accessory protein translocation system. In Streptococcus
bacteria, the accessory secretion system exports only one protein, an
adhesion protein that allows the bacterium to attach to the host cell. This
project aims to investigate the mechanism of accessory protein
translocation. The adhesion protein is glycosylated in the cytosol before
export from the cell, the glycosylated form is then recognized by three
different targeting proteins, and finally the protein is exported by a
dedicated ATPase through a membrane channel. The project for the EXROP
student will involve structural studies on the targeting proteins. The
student will make mutations in the proteins, crystallize mutants, and
perform functional studies. The goal is a better understanding of the role
of the targeting factors in accessory protein secretion.

Scientist Profile

Harvard Medical School
Cell Biology, Structural Biology