The Cate Lab at University of California-Berkeley explores how genes are put into action by translation. Translation is the universal process of protein synthesis, in which the ribosome translates the four-letter genetic code in messenger RNA into the twenty-letter code of proteins. The lab also works on strategies for making renewable energy and chemicals from plants.
Areas of Research
Protein Synthesis Understanding how the ribosome makes proteins and how these proteins fold remains a major challenge in biology. The lab is interested in how the ribosome initiates protein synthesis in humans, a highly-regulated step important for human health. The lab is also exploring proteins as they emerge from the ribosome, and how they are targeted to their final destination. Using bacterial translation, we are exploring ways to engineer the ribosome to make polymers other than proteins. To determine the mechanisms underlying protein synthesis and its regulation, the lab uses a combination of cryo-electron microscopy, systems biology, biochemistry and biophysics.
Voracious Yeast Project Perennial plants fix vast quantities of carbon dioxide into sugars in the plant cell wall. These sugars could serve as an abundant source for producing biofuels and renewable chemicals, but extracting them for conversion remains an unsolved problem. We are using a combination of systems biology, mechanistic enzymology, and synthetic biology to engineer a "Voracious Yeast" for biofuel and renewable chemical production from plants.