BSB Seminar Series: My life with membrane proteins: taming membrane transporters

A lipid bilayer is a vital component of the cell. It not only separates the cell from the environment but also separates organelles. The lipid bilayer is selectively permeable, allowing only ions and organic molecules to pass through. Ions and solutes are transported by membrane transporters. Dysfunction of such proteins can lead to physiological disorders. Therefore, understanding the molecular mechanisms of substrate translocation across the membrane can contribute to a better understanding of these proteins and lead to rational drug design. Nanobodies can be a great tool to help study the function of membrane transporters and can be widely used in various research fields such as bio-imaging and structural biology.

My name is Povilas Uzdavinys. I was born and raised in Lithuania, a small country in Europe. After high school I wanted to study something related to biology. So I entered the local technical university where I studied bioengineering. By the end of my studies, I had a strong desire to study abroad and see how people live. I moved to Sweden for my Master's degree, where I continued my studies in biotechnology. During my studies I was introduced to the field of structural biology. I was fascinated by all the colourful protein structures. I got the chance to work on membrane proteins for my final project. After graduating, I worked as a project assistant at a university in London. It was there that I met Dr David Drew, who offered me the opportunity to join him as a PhD student in a new laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden. I was introduced to the world of membrane transporters and by the end of my PhD I was hooked. For my postdoctoral position, I moved to Germany to join Dr Christine Ziegler's lab in Regensburg, where I continued to work on different membrane transporters. Time passed and I felt that I wanted to learn and do something new that would help me grow as a scientist. Nanobodies were already becoming a "hot" topic in the membrane protein community. So I joined Dr Eric Geertsma's group at MPI-CGB, where I am learning how to make nanobodies against membrane proteins.