Todd O. Yeates*

Todd O. Yeates*

1 (310) 206-4866

Laboratory Address:
Paul Boyer Hall 259
Mail Code: 157005
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Lab Number:
1 (310) 825-8901

Work Address:
Paul Boyer Hall 255A
Mail Code: 157005
Los Angeles, CA 90095


Director, X-Ray Crystallography (DOE)
Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology
Member, Basic/Translational Research, Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center, Biochemistry, Biophysics & Structural Biology GPB Home Area, Bioinformatics GPB Home Area, California NanoSystems Institute, Graduate Program in Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology, JCCC Cancer and Stem Cell Biology Program Area, Molecular Biology Institute
Staff, Computer Core Facility (DOE), Computer Core Facility (DOE)
Researcher, Biochemistry, Biophysics and Structural Biology, Proteomics and Bioinformatics
Research Interests
Research in the Yeates group is in the broad areas of computational and structural biology, and comparative genomics and bioinformatics. In the area of structural biology, our emphasis is on supra-molecular protein assemblies. Much of our recent work has focused on bacterial microcompartments — extraordinary protein assemblies comprised of thousands of subunits reminiscent of viral capsids. They encapsulate a series of enzymes within a protein shell, which controls the transport of substrates and products into and out of the microcompartment interior. They serve as primitive metabolic organelles in many bacteria. Our structural studies on these systems provided the first three-dimensional views of the shell proteins, and have generated long-needed mechanistic hypotheses for how bacterial microcompartments function. In our synthetic-biology work, we are focusing on synthetically designed protein assemblies as vehicles for understanding the evolution of natural assemblies and as potentially valuable materials for nanotechnology applications. We have developed general strategies for designing proteins that self-assemble into large, highly regular architectures such as molecular cages and extended two and three-dimensional arrays. The successful results of a number of very recent experiments emphasize the exciting long-term potential of these strategies in the nanotechnology field.

After earning his Bachelor’s degree at UCLA, Yeates stayed on to do his PhD research under the direction of Prof. Douglas Rees. There he helped determine the crystal structure of the bacterial photosynthetic reaction center as part of a team racing to determine the first crystal structures of membrane proteins. He then moved to The Scripps Research Institute to do his postdoctoral research on the structure of poliovirus with Prof. James Hogle. Yeates returned to UCLA in 1990 to join the Faculty in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. His interdisciplinary research, combining molecular biology with computing and mathematics, has focused on macromolecular structure and computational genomics. His research findings include: an explanation for why proteins crystallize in certain favored arrangements, the discovery of thermophilic microbes rich in intracellular disulfide bonds, co-development of phylogenetic profile methods in genomics, development of designed protein cages or ‘nanohedra’, the discovery of novel topological features such as slipknots in thermostable proteins, and the elucidation of the structures of the carboxysome shell proteins. Yeates is a member of the Molecular Biology Institute, the California Nanosystems Institute, the Institute of Genomics and Proteomics, and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He has published approximately 100 research papers.


A selected list of publications: