Scholar Profile

Douglas Smith

Assistant Professor
Department of Physics
University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA 92093
Voice: 858-534-5241
Fax: 858-534-7419
Personal Homepage
2002 Searle Scholar

Research Interests

Single Molecule Studies of Motor Enzymes in Viral and Cellular DNA Packaging

Bacteriophages are viruses that infect bacteria. In the assembly of many phages a hollow protein capsid assembles first and is then filled with DNA by the action of a tiny "molecular motor" which is powered by chemical energy (ATP hydrolysis). We use optical tweezers to pull on a single DNA molecule as it is being packaged into a single phage capsid. This allows us to measure DNA translocation and the forces generated by the molecular motor in real time.