Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the College
G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) are important signaling molecules on the cell membrane, and their mutations cause numerous human diseases. Approximately 40 percent of all drugs in the pharmaceutical industry target a GPCR. Demet Araç-Ozkan studies a subfamily of GPCRs, called the adhesion-type GPCRs, which is the second largest family of GPCRs but is not well understood. Recent data show that they are especially important for the functions of the brain.
During the course of her research, Araç-Ozkan discovered a previously unknown novel domain that exists in all adhesion-type GPCRs, and termed it the GPCR autoproteolysis inducing (GAIN) domain. She determined two GAIN domain structures, revealed their unique structural features, and assessed their functions. Her future studies aim to understand how adhesion-type GPCRs work in the brain and the role of the GAIN domain in their function, which would help facilitate the design of new drugs to treat human diseases.
Araç-Ozkan received a PhD in molecular biophysics from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, as well as a BS from Bilikent University in Ankara, Turkey. During her postdoctoral studies at Stanford University, she was a Life Sciences Research Foundation Fellow sponsored by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
Araç-Ozkan joined the University of Chicago faculty in 2013.