Proteins are the molecular workhorses of life. In order to carry out the physiological function, they need to be folded in the correct conformation. Protein misfolding causes abnormal aggregation that leads to the formation of ordered β-rich fibrillar aggregates known as amyloid fibrils. Amyloid formation is linked with a variety of debilitating human disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Prion diseases. The transition from a normal functional protein to an altered (misfolded) form often involves a profound conformational change that triggers the aberrant protein assembly resulting in a wide variety of nanostructures including amyloid oligomers, pores and fibrils. Professor Samarat Mukhopadhyay's laboratory utilises a diverse array of methodologies to unravel the key molecular events that are crucial in amyloid formation from a number of proteins. He is particularly interested in combining scanning probe microscopy and optical imaging in order to simultaneously monitor nanoscale topography and supramolecular packing of proteins within the amyloid architecture. The results of his research have provided structural underpinnings of diverse amyloid polymorphs that underlie the strain phenomenon in prion and amyloid biology. Recent research has shown that certain amyloids are involved in important physiological functions. These amyloids are known as functional amyloids. Professor Mukhopadhyay also discussed his recent results on functional amyloids.
Professor Samrat Mukhopadhyay is trained as an Organic Chemist at the Indian Institute of Sciences, Bangalore. Professor Mukhopadhyay transitioned his career into Biophysics and joined the Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), La Jolla, California for postdoctoral studies where he utilized single-molecule studies to delineate the mechanism of protein aggregation in neurodegenerative diseases. He joined the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali (IISER Mohali) in late 2008 as an Assistant Professor. His research at IISER Mohali broadly focuses on understanding the key events in protein misfolding and amyloid aggregation that are involved in many debilitating diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and Huntington’s. Apart from research, he likes to interact and motivate students to indulge in basic sciences.