Headshot of Dr. Alex Erkine

Research Interests:

  • Gene regulation in context of chromatin using a combination of molecular biology and bioinformatics with elements of AI.
  • Nonlinear biochemistry of IDP/IDR
    (Intrinsically Disordered Protein Regions).
  • Pharmacology of tomorrow.

Paradigm shift

In molecular biology weak near-stochastic interactions are traditionally considered as nonessential noise. We challenge this notion and assert with our research that these types of interactions are fundamentally required for vital cellular mechanisms. Implementation of mechanisms based on near-stochastic interactions by intrinsically disordered protein regions (IDRs), that constitute ~ 40% of our genome, establishes a fundamental paradigm shift in biochemistry. The critical tool required for the investigation of the myriad of near-noise interactions is machine learning. It is especially powerful in combination with next generation massive parallel approaches of wet lab molecular biology.

Transcriptional Activation Domains - why it matters?

How genes are turned ON and OFF is an old and fundamental question. The key players in gene activation are molecules of gene activators. Mostly they are proteins that have two obligatory domains: the DNA-binding domain (DBD) and the transcriptional activation domain (TAD). While DBDs are well understood (structure and mechanism of function), TADs are an enigma: they do not have specific structure, the amino acid sequence is extremely variable, and interaction targets are multiple and uncertain. How TADs work defy conventional biochemistry mentality.

We introduced a radically new mechanistic model for TADs functioning as "nucleosome detergents".