Bohdana M Discher, Ph.D.

faculty photo
Research Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
Department: Biochemistry and Biophysics
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
901C Stellar-Chance Bldg.
422 Curie Blvd.
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-898-0816
Fax: 215-898-0465
Lab: 215-898-5668
M. S. (Biophysics)
Palacky University, Czech Republic, 1992.
Ph.D. (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology)
Oregon Health Sciences University, 1998.
Permanent link

Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests
• Membrane protein design and protein assembly into natural membranes and polymersomes
• Electron transfer within proteins and across membranes
• Interfacing proteins with electronic devices including graphene and nanotubes

Membranes and membrane proteins, Polymersomes, Maquettes, Electron transfer in biology, G-protein coupled receptors, Nanodiscs, Single wall nanotubes, Graphene

Research Details
My long-term goal is to draw inspiration from Nature to develop new synthetic systems that will extend or modify current biological functions for biomedical and material applications. My prior experience on assembly of the first diblock copolymers membranes (polymersomes) in aqueous solutions equipped me with a broad understanding and hands-on experience in translating the physicochemical properties of natural components into of new artificial systems. Currently my lab is designing amphiphilic artificial proteins (AP maquettes) which function inside membranes. We are also interested in interfacing protein constructs with inorganic surfaces and electronics. In collaboration with Prof. Dawn Bonnell in Materials Science & Engineering department we have developed PDMS stamping methodology for protein patterning on electrodic surfaces and subsequently measured the topology, impedance, surface potential and current of the maquettes on the nanoscale level. In collaboration with Prof. Charlie Johnson in the Physics department we have developed Ni-NTA chemistry for attachment of His-tagged proteins to single wall carbon nanotubes and detected activation of olfactory G-protein coupled receptors. In summary, we are designing biologically inspired systems from molecular components, much like assembly of an electronic circuit, to carry out higher level functions on the nanometer scale.

Rotation Projects
A. "Clickable Nanodiscs"
"Nanodiscs" are membrane bilayers stabilized with membrane scaffold proteins (MSP). Nanodiscs provide a more natural environment for membrane proteins than do detergent micelles. The goal of this rotation project is to modify the membrane scaffold protein with azide or alkyne groups for click chemistry coupling. The modified MSP will serve as a platform attachment technology to study membrane protein-ligand interactions on field effect transistors (FETs) and on Quartz Crystal Microbalance with Dissipation (QCM-D) sensors.

B. Directional assembly of designed proteins into membranes
Our lab has designed and synthesized membrane proteins for electron transfer across membranes. The goal of this rotation project is to assemble the proteins into vesicles and to test the protein orientation using tryptophan fluorescence quenching.

Lab Personnel
Geetha Goparaju, Postdoctoral researcher
Bryan Fry, co-advised with Prof. P. Leslie Dutton

Selected Publications

Lichtenstein, B.R., Farid, T.A., Kodali, G., Solomon, L.A., Anderson, J.L.R., Sheehan, M.M., Ennist, N.M., Fry, B.A., Chobot, S.E., Bialas, C., Mancini, J.A., Armstrong, C.T., Zhao, Z., Esipova, T.V., Snell, D., Vinogradov, S.A., Discher, B.M., Moser, C.C., Dutton, P.L.: Engineering oxidoreductases: maquette proteins designed from scratch. Biochemical Society Transactions 40(3): 561-566, June 2012.

Lu, Y., Lerner, M.B., Qi, Z.J., Mitala, J.J., Lim, J.H., Discher, B.M., Johnson, A.T.C.: Graphene-protein bioelectronic devices with wavelength-dependent photoresponse. Applied Physics Letters 100(3): 033110, January 2012.

Goldsmith, B. R., Mitala, J. J., Josue, J., Castro, A., Lerner, M. B., Bayburt, T. H., Khamis, S. M., Jones, R. A., Brand, J. G., Sligar, S. G., Luetje, C. W., Gelperin, A., Rhodes, P. A., Discher, B. M., Johnson, A. T. C.: Biomimetic Chemical Sensors Using Nanoelectronic Readout of Olfactory Receptor Proteins. Acs Nano 5(7): 5408-5416, 2011.

Kathan-Galipeau, K., Nanayakkara, S., O'Brien, P. A., Nikiforov, M., Discher, B. M., Bonnell, D. A.: Direct Probe of Molecular Polarization in De Novo Protein-Electrode Interfaces. Acs Nano 5(6): 4835-4842, 2011.

Ye, S. X., Discher, B. M., Strzalka, J., Xu, T., Wu, S. P., Noy, D., Kuzmenko, I., Gog, T., Therien, M. J., Dutton, P. L., Blasie, J. K.: Amphiphilic four-helix bundle peptides designed for light-induced electron transfer across a soft interface. Nano Letters 5(9): 1658-1667, 2005.

Noy, D., Discher, B. M., Rubtsov, I. V., Hochstrasser, R. A., Dutton, P. L.: Design of amphiphilic protein maquettes: Enhancing maquette functionality through binding of extremely hydrophobic cofactors to lipophilic domains. Biochemistry 44(37): 12344-12354, 2005.

Chen, X. X., Discher, B. M., Pilloud, D. L., Gibney, B. R., Moser, C. C., Dutton, P. L.: De novo design of a cytochrome b maquette for electron transfer and coupled reactions on electrodes. Journal of Physical Chemistry B 106(3): 617-624, 2002.

Discher, B. M., Noy, D., Strzalka, J., Ye, S. X., Moser, C. C., Lear, J. D., Blasie, J. K., Dutton, P. L.: Design of amphiphilic protein maquettes: Controlling assembly, membrane insertion, and cofactor interactions. Biochemistry 44(37): 12329-12343, 2005.

Discher, B. M., Won, Y. Y., Ege, D. S., Lee, J. C. M., Bates, F. S., Discher, D. E., Hammer, D. A.: Polymersomes: Tough vesicles made from diblock copolymers. Science 284(5417): 1143-1146, 1999.

Topoglidis, E., Discher, B. M., Moser, C. C., Dutton, P. L., Durrant, J. R.: Functionalizing nanocrystalline metal oxide electrodes with robust synthetic redox proteins. Chembiochem 4(12): 1332-1339, 2003.

back to top
Last updated: 02/10/2014
The Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania