Student Highlight: Michelle Nemetchek

Image of Michelle Nemetchek

During her year as a Core Fellow in the Integrated Structural Biology Core (ISBC), Michelle gained several valuable structural biology skills. These ranged from protein expression and purification to X-ray crystallography, and finally to single-particle cryo-electron microscopy.

Two of her main projects have been helping the Lodmell and Ryckman labs collaborate with the ISBC. For Professor Stephen Lodmell, she successfully designed various constructs for expression and purification of TRA2beta and CLK2 proteins that uncovers how RIOK3 is regulated upon Rift Valley Fever Virus infection. Likewise, for Professor Brent Ryckman’s project, Michelle has been working with post-doctoral researcher Cora Stegmann to isolate human cytomegalovirus coat protein gHgLgO in high quality. After markedly improving protein purity, she is now working towards to determine a single particle cryo-electron microscopy structure of gHgLgO bound to the human receptor PDGFRalpha at near-atomic resolution. In addition to her two main tasks, she also helps other core projects at various levels to develop her essential problem-solving skills and structural biology toolkit.

For her own research under Dr. Travis Hughes, Michelle has worked on crystallizing the nuclear receptor PPARgamma with different binding partner peptides. Upon crystal optimization, this work will demonstrate how small molecular ligands bias the signaling pathways through this receptor.

Michelle’s favorite part about the Core Fellow program was how collaborative and enthusiastic core staff were to teach clients in order to move the projects forward. Michelle would like to thank Drs. Baisen Zeng and Tung-Chung Mou for their patience and care in mentoring over the past year and the Sprang Lab for being hospitable.