About Our Research

The Kowalczykowski Lab focuses on three related areas: the molecular mechanisms of genetic recombination, the biochemistry of DNA helicases, and protein-nucleic acid interactions.

Exploring the activity and function of different molecules involved in homologous recombination (DNA strand exchange proteins, helicases, binding proteins…), the team is working on understanding the bases of the process in E. coli, in the yeast, S. cerevisiae and the archaeon, S. solfataricus.

Looking specifically at DNA helicases, Prof. Kowalczykowski’s group is addressing how exactly these enzymes use energy from ATP to unwind the two strands of DNA and how they take part in the recombination process.

The team is using a variety of methods—including site-specific mutagenesis, enzyme kinetics and atomic force microscopy—to explore and better define interactions between proteins and nucleic acids. They aim to understand, for instance, what determines protein DNA or DNA-DNA recognition; the structures of such complexes in different states; and to visualize the movement of DNA helicases, like motors, along the DNA.