Krisztina Varga

Krisztina Varga

Assistant Professor

Education background:

Ph.D., Columbia University, New York, NY, Chemistry, 2005
M.S., St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY, Biology, 1998
B.S., St. John’s University, Jamaica, NY, Chemistry, 1996

General area of interest:

Protein structure and function, chiral quantum dots, NMR spectroscopy

Current research and/or professional activities:

Antifreeze proteins
Antifreeze proteins are found in a wide range of cold adapted organisms, and they contribute to their freeze resistance. Antifreeze proteins adsorb to the ice surface and inhibit the growth of ice crystals. The goal of this project is to investigate the mechanism by which antifreeze proteins protect against the damage typically inflicted by cold, including the underlying molecular mechanism of ice-binding. We also explore their applications in cryopreservation.

Membrane proteins
Approximately one-third of all proteins are located in biological membranes. Membrane proteins have diverse biological functions, and it is estimated that they constitute at least half of all therapeutic drug targets. Structural elucidation of membrane proteins remains challenging, and less than 2% are structurally characterized. We utilize both solution and solid state NMR techniques to investigate membrane proteins in solution and in their native environment, in membranes.

Chiral nanoparticles
Quantum dots are nanometer size semiconductor crystals with excellent and tunable electronic and optical properties. Colloidal quantum dots consist of an inorganic semiconductor core (e.g. CdSe) and an organic capping ligand shell (e.g. cysteine). The objective of this study is to determine how chiral organic ligands induce chiroptical activity in achiral semiconductor QDs and how QDs can be used to enhance the chiroptical signal of biomolecules. Chiral QDs are promising candidates for bioimaging, biosensing, environmental nanoassays, catalysis, and chiral memory.


NSF CHE-1413696

NSF CBET-1403947

Recent Publications (past 5 years):

Varga K, Tannnir S, Haynie BE, Leonard BE, Dzyuba SV, Kubelka K, Balaz M; CdSe quantum dots functionalized with chiral, thiol-free carboxylic acid: unraveling structural requirements for ligand induced chirality. ACS Nano (2017) in press, article ASAP. DOI: 10.1021/acsnano.7b03555

Balaz M, Tannir S, and Varga K; Chiral multichromophoric supramolecular nanostructures assembled by single stranded DNA and RNA templates. Coordination Chemistry Reviews (2017) 349: 66-83.

Hagemann N, Joseph S, Schmidt HP, Kammann CI, Harter J, Borch T, Young RB, Varga K, Taherymoosavi S, Elliott KW, McKenna A, Albu M, Mayrhofer C, Obst M, Conte P, Dieguez-Alonso A, Behrens S, Kappler A; Organic coating on biochar explains its nutrient retention and stimulation of soil fertility. Nature Communications (2017) in press.

Kratochvílová I, Golan M, Pomeisl K, Richter J, Sedláková S, Šebera S, Mičová J, Falk M, Falková I, Řeha D, Elliott KW, Varga K, Follett SE, and Šimek D; Theoretical and experimental study of antifreeze protein AFP 752, trehalose and dimethyl sulfoxide cryoprotection mechanism: correlation with cryopreserved cell viability. RSC Advances (2017) 7:352-360.

Holmes, JA, Follett SE, Wang H, Meadows, CP, Varga K, Bowman GR; Caulobacter PopZ forms an intrinsically disordered hub in organizing bacterial cell poles. PNAS, (2016) 133:12490-12495.

Warner L, Gjersing E, Follett SE, Elliott KW, Dzyuba S, and Varga K; The effects of high concentrations of ionic liquid on GB1 protein structure and dynamics probed by high-resolution magic-angle-spinning NMR spectroscopy. Biochem Biophys Rep, (2016) 8: 75-80.

Balaz M, Mames I, Pursey JP, Sargisson LL, Stulz E, Varga K; Templated porphyrin assemblies using bio-inspired scaffolds: covalent and non-covalent approaches. Handbook of Porphyrin Science, (2016)  Vol 44:31-128.

Choi JK, Haynie BE, Tohgha U, Pap L, Elliott KW, Leonard BM, Dzyuba SV, Varga K, Kubelka K, and Balaz M; Chirality Inversion of CdSe and CdS quantum dots without changing the stereochemistry of the capping ligand. ACS Nano (2016) 10: 3809–3815.

Hugh R. W. Dannatt HRW, Taylor GF, Varga K, Higman VA, Pfeil MP, Asilmovska L, Judge P, Watts A; 13C- and 1H-detection under fast MAS for the study of poorly available proteins: application to sub-milligram quantities of a 7 trans-membrane protein. J Biomol NMR (2015) 62: 17-23.

Monterroso RA, Masters; Fan M; Argyle MD, Varga K, Dyar D, Tang J, Sun Q, Towler BF, Elliot KW, Kammen D; Characterization of the Mechanism of Gasification of a Powder River Basin Coal with a Composite Catalyst for Producing Desired Syngases and Liquids. Appl Catal-A (2014) 475:116-126.

Tohgha U, Deol KK, Porter AG, Bartko SG, Choi JK, Leonard BM, Varga K, Kubelka J, Muller G, Balaz M. Ligand Induced Circular Dichroism and Circularly Polarized Luminescence in CdSe Quantum Dots. ACS Nano (2013) 7:11094-11102.

Tohgha U, Varga K, Balaz M; Achiral CdSe quantum dots exhibit optical activity in the visible region upon post-synthetic ligand exchange with D- or L-cysteine. Chem Commun (2013) 49: 1844-1846.

Wang X, Saludes JP, Zhao TX, Csakai A, Fiorini Z, Chavez SA, Li J, Gui-in Lee G, Varga K, Yin H; Targeting the lateral interactions of transmembrane domain 5 of Epstein–Barr virus latent membrane protein 1. Biochim Biophys Acta (2012) 1818: 2282-2289.

Varga K. and Rice D. Solid-state NMR analysis of biomolecules: new BioSolids experiments for VNMRJ 3.2 and BioPack. Technical Note for Agilent Technologies, Inc. (2012)

Higman VA, Varga K, Aslimovska L, Judge PJ, Sperling LJ, Rienstra CM, and Watts A; The Conformation of Bacteriorhodopsin loops in purple membranes resolved by solid-state MAS NMR spectroscopy. Angew Chem Int Ed, (2011) 50: 8432-8435.

Warner LR, Varga K, Lange OF, Baker SL, Baker D, Sousa MC, and Pardi A; Structure of the BamC two-domain protein obtained by Rosetta with a limited NMR data set. J Mol Biol (2011) 411: 83-95.

Research lab with a web site: TBD


Krisztina Varga
Rudman Hall, Room 308
Durham, NH
(603) 862-5375