Erik Procko’s research primarily investigates the structures, functions, and mechanisms of transmembrane receptors and transporters, applying methods in cell biology, biochemistry, structural biology, and biophysics. Currently, the Procko lab integrates classical biochemistry with Big Data methods to understand sequence-function relationships in human transmembrane proteins undergoing conformational change. As the lab has grown and new collaborations formed, projects have expanded, and they are now ambitiously characterizing tens of thousands of protein mutations in mammalian cells and on the yeast surface by tracking in vitro evolution with deep sequencing, embracing biological themes in immunity, cell signaling, and molecular recognition in the nervous system.
Upon starting at Illinois, Procko formed a collaboration with David Kranz (University of Illinois, CCIL member) and Brian Baker (Notre Dame) to characterize how thousands of amino acid substitutions within the CDR loops of T cell receptors impact recognition of MHC-I presenting cancer-associated peptides. This project has since expanded, and the researchers are continuing to investigate TCR-MHC-I interactions. Working with Diwakar Shukla (University of Illinois, CCIL member), we are developing and incorporating new computational tools to analyze/improve deep mutagenesis data sets and to use experimental mutational landscapes to guide simulations for modeling complex protein dynamics. They are are focused on transporters and receptors associated with neuronal signaling or cancer.
Procko received his PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Harvard University and completed postdoctoral research in Biophysics at the University of Washington.