Oliver Zerbe was born in 1963 and studied chemistry at the University of Hamburg, Germany, and in Southampton, UK. He received his Ph.D. in 1994 in organic chemistry from the University in Zurich under the supervision of Wolfgang von Philipsborn in the field of NMR methodology as applied to peptides. From 1994 to 1995 he we was a post-doc with Kurt Wüthrich at the Federal Technical University of Switzerland (ETH) working on the design of pulse sequences for isotopically labeled proteins. He received his habilitation in medicinal chemistry from the Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, ETH Zurich, in 2004 under the guidance of Gerd Folkers. Oliver Zerbe is presently head of the NMR facilities and lecturer of the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the University of Zurich where he became a Privatdozent in 2005. His research interests are centered on structures and folding of membrane-associated biomolecules, especially aspects of the recognition of hormones by their receptors. His group also works on carbohydrate models for recognition of cell-surface exposed membranes, and on the translocation mechanism of cell-penetrating peptides. We primarily use recombinant methods and protein expression but also solid-phase peptide synthesis to produce the peptides of interest and high-resolution NMR techniques to determine their structures.
Our research interests are centered on structures of membrane-associated biomolecules and aspects of the recognition of hormones by their receptors.
We are investigating the structure and function of membrane-embedded receptors, in particular those of G-protein coupled receptors. In order to understand these pharma-cologically highly important receptors we have studied fragments of GPCRs. Moreover, we are developing a functional mini-receptor capable of mimicking GPCRs.
My group uses primarily recombinant methods and protein expression but also solid-phase peptide synthesis to produce the peptides and proteins of interest and high-resolution NMR as well as other biophysical techniques for structurally and functionally characterizing them. We are additionally interested in protein folding using a combination of site-directed mutagenesis and NMR. Another area of interest is the interaction of peptides and proteins with cell-surface exposed carbo-hydrate units.
The following topics are covered by our present research projects:
♦ Structure and Dynamics of Membrane-Associated Hormones
♦ Structures of GPCR fragments
♦ Mechanism of Cell Entry for Cell-Penetrating Peptides
♦ Recognition of Cell-Surface Exposed Carbohydrate Units
♦ Synthetic Models for Loops of G-Protein Coupled Receptors
♦ Folding of Helical Hairpins