Dr. David Komander is a ubiquitin researcher focusing on biochemical, structural and signaling aspects in the ubiquitin system. His lab has structurally characterized all key components mediating the ubiquitin-dependent degradation of mitochondria via PINK1/Parkin-mediated mitophagy, including the ubiquitin signals (phospho-ubiquitin, Lys6-linked polyubiquitin), Parkin in inactive and active states, PINK1 bound to ubiquitin in the active site, and USP30 with and without substrates. Together, his structural work has provided the molecular underpinning to derive a sequence of events from mitochondrial depolarization to mitophagy. It further illuminated the impact of PINK1 and Parkin patient mutations that lead to early-onset parkinsonism.
Dr. Komander heads the Ubiquitin Signaling Division at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research (WEHI) in Melbourne, Australia, where he has access to state-of-the- art facilities to investigate structural, biochemical and physiological aspects of the ubiquitination machinery, and perform high-throughput small molecule screening to enable translation of basic research discoveries.