Myunggi Yi     (부경대학교 의공학과 이명기)

45 Yongso-ro, Nam-Gu
Department of Biomedical Engineering, Interdisciplinary Program of of Biomedical, Mechanical & Electrical Engineering (BK21+)
Pukyong National University
Busan 48513, South Korea
myunggi at pukyong dot ac dot kr

Phone: +82 51 629-5773
Fax: +82 51 629-5779

Positions are available: We are looking for graduate students who are interested in theoretical and computational biophysics with physics or chemistry (or related) background and programming skills.
Students will be supported by stipend with 1,000,000 (PhD program) Korean Won. Please send your Email with CV and English score.

Positions and Employments
2014 - Present :    Department chair, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Pukyong National University
2011 - Present :    Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Engineering, Pukyong National University
2010 - 2011 :    Postdoctoral Fellow with Jeffrey J. Gray (advisor) and Marc OstermeierJohns Hopkins University
2008 - 2010 :    Postdoctoral
Associate with Huan-Xiang Zhou (advisor) and Timothy A. CrossNational High Magnetic Field Laboratory

2008 :    Ph.D. in Computational Biophysics, Department of Physics, Florida State University
                            Ph.D. Thesis : Dynamics of Biomolecules, Ligand Binding & Biological Functions (advisor: Huan-Xiang Zhou)
2000 :    B.Sc. in Physics, Pukyong National University, South Korea 


The process of silver immobilization onto and/or into bovine lactoferrin (LTF), the physicochemical properties of bovine lactoferrin and obtained silver-lactoferrin complexes, as well as antibacterial activity of silver-lactoferrin complexes were investigated in this work. Kinetic study of the silver immobilization into lactoferrin was carried out using batch sorption techniques. Spectrometric (MALDI-TOF/TOF-MS, ICP-MS), spectroscopic (FTIR, SERS), electron microscopic (TEM) and electrophoretic (I-DE) techniques, as well as zeta potential measurements, were applied for characterization of LTF and binding nature of silver in Ag-LTF complexes. On the basis of the results of the kinetics study, it was established that the silver binding to LTF is a heterogeneous process involving two main stages: (i) internal diffusion and sorption onto external surface of lactoferrin globules; and (ii) internal diffusion and binding into lactoferrin globule structure. Spectroscopic techniques combined with TEM analysis confirmed the binding process. Molecular dynamics (MD) analysis was carried out in order to simulate the mechanism of the binding process, and locate potential binding sites, as well as complement the experimental findings. Quantum mechanics (QM) simulations were performed utilizing density functional theory (DFT) in order to support the reduction mechanism of silver ions to elemental silver. Antimicrobial activity of synthesized lactoferrin complexes against selected clinical bacteria was confirmed using flow cytometry and antibiograms.
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GPU-Accelerated Parallel Processing of Ultrasound and PAT Signals.

Structural modeling of membrane proteins with NMR constraints.

Molecular basis for the Ion selectivity of Gap Junction channels by molecular dynamics simulations.

Modeling and studies of the structures and allosteric switching mechanism of the RG13, an engineered protein between TEM1 BLA (beta-lactamase) and MBP (maltose binding protein).


Membrane protein structures are stabilized by weak interactions and are influenced by additional interactions with the solubilizing environment. Structures of influenza virus A M2 protein, a proven drug target, have been determined in three different environments, thus providing a unique opportunity to assess environmental influences. Structures determined in detergents and detergent micelles can have notable differences from those determined in lipid bilayers. These differences make it imperative to validate membrane protein structures.

The M2 protein from the influenza A virus, an acid-activated proton-selective channel, has been the subject of numerous conductance, structural, and computational studies. However, little is known at the atomic level about the heart of the functional mechanism for this tetrameric protein, a His37-Trp41 cluster. We report the structure of the M2 conductance domain (residues 22 to 62) in a lipid bilayer, which displays the defining features of the native protein that have not been attainable from structures solubilized by detergents. We propose that the tetrameric His37-Trp41 cluster guides protons through the channel by forming and breaking hydrogen bonds between adjacent pairs of histidines and through specific interactions of the histidines with the tryptophan gate. This mechanism explains the main observations on M2 proton conductance.


Conformational heterogeneity of the M2 proton channel and a structural model for channel activation.
The M2 protein of influenza virus A is a proton-selective ion channel activated by pH. Structure determination by solid-state and solution NMR and X-ray crystallography has contributed significantly to our understanding, but channel activation may involve conformations not captured by these studies. Indeed, solid-state NMR data demonstrate that the M2 protein possesses significant conformational heterogeneity. Here, we report molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the M2 transmembrane domain (TMD) in the absence and presence of the antiviral drug amantadine. The ensembles of MD conformations for both apo and bound forms reproduced the NMR data well. The TMD helix was found to kink around Gly-34, where water molecules penetrated deeply into the backbone. The amantadine-bound form exhibited a single peak ≈10° in the distribution of helix-kink angle, but the apo form exhibited 2 peaks, ≈0° and 40°. Conformations of the apo form with small and large kink angles had narrow and wide pores, respectively, around the primary gate formed by His-37 and Trp-41. We propose a structural model for channel activation, in which the small-kink conformations dominate before proton uptake by His-37 from the exterior, and proton uptake makes the large-kink conformations more favorable, thereby priming His-37 for proton release to the interior.


Blocking effect of an immuno-suppressive agent, Cynarin, on CD28 of T-cell receptor.
Cynarin, a potential immunosuppressant that blocks the interaction between the CD28 of T-cell receptor and CD80 of antigen presenting cells, was found in Echinacea purpureaby a new pharmaceutical screening method: After Flowing Through Immobilized Receptor (AFTIR; Dong et al., J Med Chem, 49: 1845-1854, 2006). This Echinacea component is the first small molecule that is able to specifically block “signal 2” of T-cell activation. In this study, we used the AFTIR method to further confirm that cynarin effectively blocked the binding between CD80 of B-cells and CD28 of T-cells, and provide details of its mechanism of action. The experimental results showed that cynarin blocked about 87% of the CD28-dependent “signal 2” pathway of T-cell activation under the condition of one to one ratio of T-cell and B-cell in vitro. Theoretical structure modeling showed that cynarin binds to the “G-pocket” of CD28 (Evans et al., Nat Immunol, 6:271-279, 2005), and thus interrupts the site of interaction between CD28 and CD80. These results confirm both that AFTIR is a promising method for screening selective active compounds from herbal medicine and that cynarin has great potential as an immuno-suppressive agent.


Test of the Gouy-Chapman theory for a charged lipid membrane by explicit-solvent molecular dynamics simulations.
A wealth of experimental data has verified the applicability of the Gouy-Chapman (GC) theory to charged lipid membranes. Surprisingly, a validation of GC by molecular dynamics (MD) simulations has been elusive. Here, we report a test of GC against extensive MD simulations of an anionic lipid bilayer solvated by water at different concentrations of NaCl or KCl. We demonstrate that the ion distributions from the simulations agree remarkably well with GC predictions when information on the adsorption of counterions to the bilayer is incorporated.

A Secondary gate as a mechanism for inhibition of the M2 proton channel by amantadine
The mechanism of inhibition of the influenza A virus M2 proton channel by the antiviral drug amantadine has been under intense investigation. The importance of a mechanistic understanding is heightened by the prevalence of amantadine-resistant mutations. To gain mechanistic insight at the molecular level, we carried out extensive molecular dynamics simulations of the tetrameric M2 proton channel in both apo and amantadine-bound forms in a lipid bilayer. The simulation of the apo form revealed that Val27 from the four M2 subunits can form a secondary gate near the channel entrance and break the water wire in the channel pore. This gate arises from physical occlusion and the elimination of hydrogen-bonding partners for water molecules. In the presence of amantadine, the secondary gate formed by Val27 and the drug molecule lying just below form an extended blockage, which breaks the water wire throughout the simulation. The location and orientation of amantadine inside of the channel pore as found in our simulation are supported by a host of experimental observations. Our study suggests a novel role for Val27 in the inhibition of the M2 proton channel by amantadine.


Nicotinic AChRs (nAChRs) represent a paradigm for ligand-gated ion channels. Despite intensive studies over many years, our understanding of the mechanisms of activation and inhibition for nAChRs is still incomplete. Here, we present molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the alpha7 nAChR ligand-binding domain, both in apo form and in alpha-Cobratoxin-bound form, starting from the respective homology models built on crystal structures of the acetylcholine-binding protein. The toxin-bound form was relatively stable, and its structure was validated by calculating mutational effects on the toxin-binding affinity. However, in the apo form, one subunit spontaneously moved away from the conformation of the other four subunits. This motion resembles what has been proposed for leading to channel opening. At the top, the C loop and the adjacent beta7-beta8 loop swing downward and inward, whereas at the bottom, the F loop and the C terminus of beta10 swing in the opposite direction. These swings appear to tilt the whole subunit clockwise. The resulting changes in solvent accessibility show strong correlation with experimental results by the substituted cysteine accessibility method upon addition of acetylcholine. Our MD simulation results suggest a mechanistic model in which the apo form, although predominantly sampling the "closed" state, can make excursions into the "open" state. The open state has high affinity for agonists, leading to channel activation, whereas the closed state upon distortion has high affinity for antagonists, leading to inhibition.

The interactions of (15)N-labeled amantadine, an antiinfluenza A drug, with DMPC bilayers were investigated by solid-state NMR and by a 12.6-ns molecular dynamics (MD) simulation. The drug was found to assume a single preferred orientation and location when incorporated in these bilayers. The experimental and MD computational results demonstrate that the long axis of amantadine is on average parallel to the bilayer normal, and the amine group is oriented toward the headgroups of the lipid bilayers. The localization of amantadine was determined by paramagnetic relaxation and by the MD simulation showing that amantadine is within the interfacial region and that the amine interacts with the lipid headgroup and glycerol backbone, while the hydrocarbon portion of amantadine interacts with the glycerol backbone and much of the fatty acyl chain as it wraps underneath the drug. The lipid headgroup orientation changes on drug binding as characterized by the anisotropy of (31)P chemical shielding and (14)N quadrupolar interactions and by the MD simulation.


The diphtheria toxin repressor contains an SH3-like domain that forms an intramolecular complex with a proline-rich (Pr) peptide segment and stabilizes the inactive state of the repressor. Upon activation of diphtheria toxin repressor (DtxR) by transition metals, this intramolecular complex must dissociate as the SH3 domain and Pr segment form different interactions in the active repressor. Here we investigate the dynamics of this intramolecular complex using backbone amide nuclear spin relaxation rates determined using NMR spectroscopy and molecular dynamics trajectories. The SH3 domain in the unbound and bound states showed typical dynamics in that the secondary structures were fairly ordered with high generalized order parameters and low effective correlation times, while residues in the loops connecting beta-strands exhibited reduced generalized order parameters and required additional motional terms to adequately model the relaxation rates. Residues forming the Pr segment exhibited low-order parameters with internal rotational correlation times on the order of 0.6 ns-1 ns. Further analysis showed that the SH3 domain was rich in millisecond time scale motions while the Pr segment exhibited motions on the 100 mus time scale. Molecular dynamics simulations indicated structural rearrangements that may contribute to the observed relaxation rates and, together with the observed relaxation rate data, suggested that the Pr segment exhibits a binding<-->unbinding equilibrium. The results here provide new insights into the nature of the intramolecular complex and provide a better understanding of the biological role of the SH3 domain in regulating DtxR activity.