47SA – CryoEM of Novel Anti-Cancer Biotechnology

Status: Filled – Intern: Zoe Luethener
Intern: Zoe Luethener
Faculty Name: steve-aller
UAB Department: Pharmacology & Toxicology
UAB School: School of Medicine (SOM)
Campus Address: 1025 18th Street South
Telephone Number: (205) 975-5010
Email: sgaller@uab.edu or Click to Send E-Mail
For how many summers have you served as a preceptor: 0
CCC Research Area: Experimental Therapeutics
Number of hours per week that the preceptor will personally supervise or work with the intern: 10
Other faculty, staff, or graduate students who may help to supervise the intern:
1. Mr. Cole Martin
2. Dr. David Chester
Title of Project: 47SA – CryoEM of Novel Anti-Cancer Biotechnology
Project Description:

During our characterization of the structure of a novel bacterial toxin, we have determined that the toxin architecture is comprised of a highly redundant antibody-like (IgG-like) domains for recognizing and binding to cell surface targets. The targeting mechanism of the wildtype toxin is highly specific because it targets insects but is not harmful to mammalian cells. We propose that the endogenous IgG-like domains can be replaced, and other modifications can be made, that will allow us to switch the targeting of the toxin to membrane proteins that are upregulated and/or overexpressed at the surface of human cancer cells. If successful, our engineering of the toxin will allow a novel cell delivery, targeting and killing agent – all in one protein that is inexpensive to produce, and may have advantages over current immunotherapies such as monoclonal antibodies or CAR-T therapies. This project will focus considerably on the processing of cryoEM data for various constructs of the toxin, potentially including some cryoEM data acquisition. The ideal student will already have experience in structural biology, and will learn cutting-edge data processing methods. In the event that the option arises, the student will accompany the laboratory to a state-of-the-art facility in Ohio and participate in collecting high-resolution cryoEM data.

Project Status: Already up and running
Location of Project: Birmingham, AL (UAB)
Proposed Start Date: May 4, 2020
Proposed End Date: August 28, 2020
Expected work schedule for intern: Not very flexible, intern MUST be at work on certain days of the week and at certain times of the day (as may be necessary to interview patients, attend lab meetings, process samples, etc.) and should contribute full-time effort.
Category of Project: Laboratory Research
Cancer topic: Multiple Cancer Sites
Does this project involve human subjects: No
Does this project involve animal subjects: No

Computational work, cryoEM data processing (software Relion-3, imod, pymol, chimera, linux).


Some lab benchwork, cell culture



Preceptor will provide intern with access to the following:
Office or desk space, Computer and printer, Laboratory work bench space, Supplies needed to complete project, Equipment needed to complete project
Likelihood that intern will be included as an author on one or more publications
related to this summer research project:
Areas in which the ideal candidates will have experience:
Biochemistry, Computer Programming, Molecular Biology