Heather Pinkett

PhD, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Interdisciplinary Biological Sciences Program
Department of Molecular Biosciences

Office Phone: 847.467.4048
Fax: 847.467.6489
Lab Website


From bacteria to mammals, ATP Binding Cassettes (ABC) transporters are prevalent in many cells. ABC transporters import or export a broad spectrum of substrates, including lipids, polysaccharides, proteins or toxins across cellular membranes. With 48 known genes in the human genome, this family of membrane spanning transport proteins plays a significant role in human disease. The ABC transporter multidrug resistance protein 1 is responsible for the resistance of tumor cells to chemotherapy, while mutations in the ABC transporter cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) lead to cystic fibrosis, the most frequently occurring deadly inherited disease.

My laboratory focuses on several ABC transporters to address a variety of fundamental questions that are of paramount importance; (1) how are substrate recognized during the transport process (2) how ATP hydrolysis is coupled with translocation and (3) what is the mechanism of transport for these proteins. Using a combination of crystallographic and biochemical studies, we can determine the three-dimensional structure of the molecule to understand the structural and functional roles of individual components of transporters and interactions in complex. The ultimate goal is to capture snapshots of substrate transport as these ABC transporters pump things into or out of the cell, in hopes controlling protein function or malfunction.

Recent Photos

April 16, 2015