Denise Okafor (Pennsylvania State University)

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Background: Dr. Denise Okafor studies the molecular mechanisms of allosteric regulation in nuclear receptors (ligand-regulated transcription factors). Ligands binding to the nuclear receptor ligand binding domain induce long-range allosteric activation of the DNA binding domain to produce transcriptional outcomes. The mechanisms by which these two domains coordinate to achieve ligand-specific outcomes is poorly understood. Furthermore, little is known about how different ligands modulate nuclear receptor structure and dynamics for selective co-regulator recruitment and distinct biological outcomes. The Okafor Lab combines molecular dynamics simulations with biophysical and biochemical experiments to understand the structural mechanisms of signaling and regulation in protein complexes. 

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