Luke Rice, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Endowed Title: Thomas O. Hicks Scholar in Medical Research

Department: Biophysics, Biochemistry

Graduate Programs: Molecular Biophysics

Biography

Biosketch:

Dr. Rice received his undergraduate degree from Yale, with a double major in Physics and in American Studies. For two years after that he worked as a scientific programmer in Axel Brunger’s lab at Yale, improving the performance of crystallographic refinement by adopting an algorithm from engineering disciplines that allowed more effective conformational sampling.

Dr. Rice stayed at Yale for his graduate studies in the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, continuing to work with Axel Brunger. His graduate work was mostly focused on biophysical and structural studies of yeast vesicular transport proteins (SNAREs and α-SNAP).

During his postdoctoral work with David Agard at UC San Francisco, Dr. Rice determined atomic structures of γ-tubulin, a specialized tubulin that catalyzes microtubule initiation in vivo. These and other experiments provided new insights into the mechanism of microtubule assembly because they showed, contrary to expectation, that the conformation of tubulins did not change as a function the nucleotide bound.

Dr. Rice joined the faculty of UT Southwestern in the fall of 2007.  His lab is broadly focused on developing a comprehensive understanding of microtubule dynamics that connects the properties of individual molecules to the complex polymerization dynamics that emerge - at different length and time scales - from collective interactions among these molecules. A wide range of techniques is being used: X-ray crystallography, time-lapse microscopy, in vitro reconstitution, yeast genetics, biochemisty, computational modeling, and more.

 

Research overview:

Microtubules are essential, dynamic polymers of αβ-tubulin that are responsible for chromosome segregation, that have key roles in organizing the interior of eukaryotic cells, and that are the direct targets of anti-cancer therapeutics.

We are interested in discovering the connections between biochemical and structural properties of αβ-tubulin and the complex behavior that emerges from their collective interactions. This is a fascinating frontier problem that challenges our ability to integrate 'one molecule at a time' views of biochemistry and structure with lower resolution measurements of collective behavior spanning different length and time scales.

Our studies combine structure, biochemistry, imaging, and computation, and they take advantage of our ability to create and purify mechanistically defining mutants of αβ-tubulin. 

Education

Graduate School Yale University (2000), Biochemistry

Research Interests

  • Biochemistry
  • Computational modeling
  • Microtubule dynamics
  • Structural Biology
  • X-ray crystallography

Publications

Featured Publications Legend

Featured Publications

The lattice as allosteric effector: structural studies of alphabeta- and gamma-tubulin clarify the role of GTP in microtubule assembly.

Rice LM, Montabana EA, Agard DA Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2008 Apr 105 14 5378-83

Insights into microtubule nucleation from the crystal structure of human gamma-tubulin.

Aldaz H, Rice LM, Stearns T, Agard DA Nature 2005 May 435 7041 523-7

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