Title at NITech
Associate Professor (2017)
Affiliation, Institution or University
Group leader, Computational Photobiology Unit, Department of Biomolecular Mechanisms, Max Planck Institute for Medical Research Heidelberg
Sunlight is an important environmental factor and light-induced chemical reactions may have both beneficial and detrimental biological effects. To enable optimal adaptation to the light conditions, organisms are equipped with multiple photoreceptor proteins capable of light absorption in a wide spectral range, from ultra violet to far red. Knowledge of photoactivation mechanisms of photoreceptors enables further engineering of these proteins in optogenetic switches and fluorescent markers that advance cellular and organisms' studies. Light-sensing properties of photoreceptors are defined by the identity of their light-sensing cofactors and the three-dimensional structure of the protein. These two factors, in turn, define a unique set of excited states populated upon light absorption that rule the photoactivation process. Contemporary approach to study light activation mechanisms of photoreceptors is based on three major inputs: three-dimensional structure determination, spectroscopy and computational-chemistry studies. Computational chemistry, in particular quantum-chemical calculations, provide critical knowledge on the excited-state structure, energies and properties from the first principles. Dr. Domratcheva uses computational-chemistry methods to investigate photoreaction mechanisms implicated in photoactivation and photodamage of biomolecules.