BBS Faculty Member - Thomas Walz

Thomas Walz

Department of Cell Biology

Harvard Medical School
Cell Biology, Bldg C2, Rm 416B
240 Longwood Ave.
Boston, MA 02115
Tel: 617-432-4090
Fax: 617-432-1144

Molecular electron microscopy (EM) is a versatile approach to analyze the structure of molecules that are not easily amenable to structure determination by the more established techniques of X-ray crystallography and NMR spectroscopy. Our group uses both single-particle EM to visualize the structure of macromolecular complexes and electron crystallography of two-dimensional (2D) crystals to determine the structure of integral membrane proteins.

A focus of the group is to study the structural basis of how membrane proteins interact with their surrounding lipids. Using 2D crystals of the lens-specific water channel aquaporin-0 (AQP0) as a model system, we use electron crystallography to address very basic questions in membrane biology, such as the molecular basis of lipid-protein interactions, hydrophobic mismatch and raft formation. We complement these studies with collaborative work using molecular dynamics. We are currently in the process to establish Nanodiscs in the laboratory as another approach to investigate how lipids and membrane proteins interact with each other.

Another focus of the group concerns macromolecular complexes involved in vesicular transport. We are currently mostly using single-particle EM to characterize the structure and function of multisubunit tethering complexes, which mediate the first interaction between transport vesicles and target membranes and orchestrate the complex process of membrane fusion.

Last Update: 8/22/2013


For a complete listing of publications click here.



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