Comparative Modeling and Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Surfactant Protein B

Presenter: Tyler Locke

Research Category: Physical and LIfe Sciences
College: College of Science
Major(s): Biomedical Physics
Graduation Date: 2023

Pulmonary surfactant is a complex lipid-protein system that exists at the air-water interface within the alveoli of the lungs.  This system primarily functions in reducing the surface tension of this interface, reducing the work of breathing and preventing alveolar collapse.  The focus of this project is on Surfactant Protein B(SP-B), a vital protein component of surfactant.  Despite being one of the most functionally important surfactant proteins, SP-B has no experimentally determined structure.  This presents a major barrier to research involving this protein.  I have created several predicted structures for SP-B using Comparative Modeling, a technique which creates structural models for an unknown protein based on the structures of related proteins.  With these models, we can conduct further research into the structural and functional properties of SP-B.  Specifically, I will be conducting molecular dynamics simulations, which allow us to study to structural evolution of a system over time.  This will allow us to see how SP-B interacts with various systems, such as water or surfactant lipids.  Gaining insight into how SP-B functions in surfactant will help us better understand the system in its entirety.  This is very important, as understanding how pulmonary surfactant functions is key to developing treatments for many respiratory illnesses.