Joshua Pajak

My research focuses on uncovering the mechanisms by which bacteriophages package their genome during replication. I use physics-based computational methods rooted in statistical mechanics and stochastic processes to simulate the viral DNA packaging proteins under a variety of conditions. As my research continues, I draw inspiration from related ATPases such as helicases, translocases, and proteases to find conserved mechanisms involved in ATP hydrolysis and motor function.

Current Research Interests

My current research interests focus on uncovering the molecular basis of force generation, translocation, and coordination of of viral DNA packaging ATPase enzymes. Specifically, I am working on detailing:
  1. What mechanisms do these enzymes use to regulate ATP hydrolysis?
  2. How do subunits of the motor "talk" with one another in order to accomplish their task?
  3. What mechanisms of these motors are conserved throughout biology?
  4. How do these enzymes grip - and just as importantly, ungrip - DNA during translocation?
Along with collaborators, I have recently proposed that viral DNA packaging ATPases utilize a helical-to-planar ratchet model of DNA translocation.

Current Appointments & Affiliations

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