Research Areas / Interest

Biochemistry of heat shock protein 47 (HSP47)

Heat shock protein 47 (HSP47) is a molecular chaperone crucial for collagen biosynthesis. It is a single-substrate chaperone, and binds only to collagen. ‘Knock-out’ of the hsp47 gene has been shown to impair the secretion of correctly folded collagen triple helix molecules, leading to embryonic lethality in mice. HSP47 belongs to the well characterised ‘serpin’ superfamily, but the chaperone itself is not fully understood in terms of its molecular interactions.

My interest is to elucidate the specific mechanism that governs HSP47 binding to, and release from collagen, at the molecular level. The mechanism is known as the ‘pH-switch mechanism’. I focus the investigation on histidine (His) residues, as the HSP47-collagen dissociation pH is similar to the pKa of the imidazole side chain.

Several biochemical and chemical techniques are involved, such as:
-protein homology modelling,
-site directed mutagenesis,
-affinity chromatography,
-protein separation and immunodetection,
-size exclusion chromatography (SEC),
-protein circular dichroism,
-fluorescence spectroscopy (intrinsic tryptophan and anisotropy),
-peptide synthesis and coupling,
-binding assays,
-fluorescence microscopy

I am also interested in further studying the interactions between HSP47 and collagen, towards application in drug development.

Collaborators:
1. Dr. Takayuki Homma, Imperial College London.
2. Dr. Normala Abd Latip, Faculty of Pharmacy, UiTM.
3. Dr. Siti Hamimah Syeikh Abdul Kadir, Institute for Medical Molecular Biotechnology, UiTM.

 

Bacterial Biohydrogen Production

The world’s energy supply is the hotly debated issue nowadays. There are many ways to decrease the reliance on conventional fossil fuels, and microbes as energy factory is among the promising ones. The challenge of using microbes and biological materials is to obtain efficient and cost-effective fuel production. Currently we are isolating potential biohydrogen producing microbes from various sources, and investigating on the ability of the isolated microbes to produce hydrogen. We are also currently looking into the presence of hydrogenases in the isolated bacteria.

Collaborators:
1. Prof. Datin Dr. Zaharah Ibrahim, FBME, UTM.
2. Dr. Tuan Amran Tuan Abdullah, Faculty of Chemical Engineering, UTM.
3. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Madihah Md Salleh, FBME, UTM.
4. Dr. Goh Kian Mau, FBME, UTM.

 

Antarctic Microbes
Research on Antarctic microbes was originally initiated after the formation of UTM Antarctica Research Group, of which EnVBiotech is a member. The research receive a further boost after the 2015 UTM Antarctica Research Expedition. In Proteomics Laboratory, we are interested in screening for microbes capable of biohydrogen production at lower temperatures. We are also interested in investigating the physiological differences between photosynthetic microbes in the Antarctic and the tropical areas, from the microbiology and molecular biology point of view.

Collaborators:
1. Prof. Datin Dr. Zaharah Ibrahim, FBME, UTM.
2. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Shafinaz Shahir, FBME, UTM.
3. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Madihah Md Salleh, FBME, UTM.
4. Dr. Adibah Yahya, FBME, UTM.
5. Assoc. Prof. Dr. Siti Aisyah Alias, Institute of Ocean and Earth Sciences (IOES), UM.

Read more about this:
UTM Antarctica Research Group official website.

 

Biochemistry of Dye Degradation

The first hurdle in the remediation of dye wastewater is colour removal. Our laboratory has successfully discovered microbes able to do this process efficiently. The microbial decolourisation processes are still actively being researched in our lab. We are also currently looking at the potential of coupling dye decolourisation and biohydrogen generation towards sustainable waste treatment.

Collaborators:
1. Prof. Dr. Noor Aini Abdul Rashid, FBME, UTM.
2. Dr. Chan Giek Far, Temasek Polytechnic, Singapore.