Seminar - Faruck Morcos, Ph.D. - Rice University

Friday, February 13 at 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Seamans Center, 1505
103 South Capitol Street, Iowa City, Iowa

Co‐evolutionary informatioon: structural diversity, complex formation and protein recognition in signaling networks Faruck Morcos, Ph.D. Center for Theoretical Physics, Rice University Advances in sequencing technologies provide us with a rich source of information about the evolutionary history of proteins. Signals from amino acid coevolution at different sequence positions in multiple sequence alignments can be exploited to infer spatial contacts within the three dimensional folded structure of proteins. We developed a computationally efficient algorithm termed mean field Direct Coupling Analysis (mfDCA) which aims to disentangle direct and indirect residue correlations for a large number of protein domains. Beyond single proteins, I will show how we studied evolutionarily conserved protein-protein interactions that can be utilized to reconstruct protein interaction complexes with high accuracy. We developed a "direct information score" to quantify mutational changes in the interaction between phosphotransfer proteins in Two Component Signaling (TCS). We show that our score accurately correlates with experimental mutagenesis studies that probe the mutational change in measured in vitro phosphotransfer. Furthermore, we can isolate the determinants that give rise to interacon specificity and recognition among different TCS partners by successfully predict cognate pairs of histidine kinases and response regulators. Our score could be used to design novel cognate pairs and to encode new specificities in synthetic signaling networks. Dr. Morcos has been a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Theoretical Biological Physics since 2010, first at the University of California San Diego and currently at Rice University. He received a B.S. degree (Honors) in Electronics and Communications Engineering from the Tecnologico de Monterrey (ITESM) and a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the Technische Universität München (TUM). In 2010 he received a M.S. degree in Applied Mathematics and a Ph.D. degree in Computer Science (Computational Biology) from the University of Notre Dame. . His research focuses on applications of information theory, statistical inference and physical modeling to study protein structure, function and interactions.

Contact Info: Courtney Bork,, 319-335-5632