Current Lab Research

Our lab uses various biophysical techniques including cryo-electron microscopy as tools to study the function of macromolecular assemblies. Of particular interest are the atomic details of protein folding as carried out by molecular chaperones like hsp27 or chaperonins like hsp60/10.


Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) and Distal Hereditary Motor Neuropathy (dHMN) cause dysfunction in nerves of the peripheral nervous system. Our studies aim to facilitate development of strategies for disease intervention through new effective drug therapies by determining the structure of Hsp27 in complex with its client proteins. 


The mtHsp60 D29G and V98I missense mutations have shown direct correlation to hereditary spastic paraplegia type 13 (SPG13) and mitochondrial Hsp60 chaperonopathy (MitCHAP-60). We study various mtHsp60 protein folding intermediates with a focus on the disease-causing point mutations, D29G and V98I, leading to possible treatments. 


& Links


Publication Listing in Google Scholar, click here.


Texas Academy of Science


Texas Academy of Science UTEP Local Student Chapter

Lab Members

Current Lab Members include; Ricardo Bernal, Zhaobo Li, Daniel Von Salzen, Sofia Ronquillo and Tatum Flores


Former Lab Members include; Samantha Garcia (now a PhD student at UC Berkeley), Denisse Orozco (UG @UACJ), Alejandro Rodriguez (PhD @ local Start Up), Bianka Holguin (PhD @ local Start Up), Zac Hildenbrand (Research Professor at UTEP), Sudheer Molugu (now cryo-EM facility Manager at University of Pennsylvania), Nadia Herrera (PhD @ Caltech and postdoc at UCSF), Tim Brown (now an MD/PhD), Adrian Enriquez (now postdoc at Scripps-La Hoya), Jinliang Wang (postdoc at Univ. of Utah and currently a postdoc at USC), Karen Orta (PhD student at Caltech), Maria Grajeda (Postbac at Johns Hopkins & Currently in Medical School), Andres Orta (PhD student at Caltech), Jesus Garcia, Diana Tafoya (Ph.D. Vanderbilt now working in Austin Texas), and many others.



All highly motivated individuals interested in structural biology are welcome to apply. Skills in molecular biology and familiarity with Linux are helpful but not a prerequisite. If interested in joining our lab, contact Ricardo Bernal to inquire about any open positions.



Copyright 2022, Ricardo A. Bernal, All Rights Reserved.