Our long-term research interest lies in striving to understand the structural basis of cell surface receptor transmembrane signaling and the concomitant relay of information to and from intracellular proteins. Particular focus is placed on the integrin family of cell-adhesion receptors, which is indispensable for the functioning of vertebrates and is of central importance to the operation of the vascular system. Integrins consist of two non-covalently associated subunits, termed alpha and beta, and possess the remarkable ability to transmit signals bidirectionally across the cell membrane. To do so, the single transmembrane helices of their two subunits must encode at least three functional states (inactive, inside-out and outside-in signaling). However, aside from recognizing that a separation of the transmembrane helices accompanies transmembrane signaling, little data, in particular structural data, is available about transmembrane helix packing, tilt and membrane embedding. In an effort to discover how an activating signal, following the binding of the cytoskeletal protein talin to the integrin beta cytosolic tail, is transmitted across the cell membrane, our research pursues the following specific aims: (i) Determination of the structure, dynamics and membrane embedding of the monomeric transmembrane helix of each integrin ?IIb and ?3 subunit. (ii) Elucidation of the structure, interaction and membrane embedding of the heterodimeric integrin ?IIb and ?3 transmembrane helices. (iii) Evaluation of the consequences of talin binding to the ?3 and ?IIb-?3 transmembrane structure, interaction and membrane embedding. We are using solution NMR spectroscopy to accomplish these goals. Peptides encompassing the integrin ?IIb-?3 transmembrane and cytosolic tails are produced recombinantly and they are reconstituted in lipid bilayer model membranes. Integrin ?IIb-?3 mediates blood platelet aggregation and, as such, is a key regulator of thrombosis. To effectively control and, if applicable, prevent thrombi, whose pathological appearances lead to heart attack and stroke, the molecular events leading to their formation must be understood. Thus, our research contributes to the understanding of the interactions of molecules and cells within the vascular system, and will aid in the development of drugs and therapies to treat vascular diseases. PROJECT NARRATIVE Stroke and heart attack, two of the major causes of death, arise from pathological aberrations of the vascular system. The current proposal provides the structural basis for understanding a key mediator of blot platelet aggregation and will aid in providing control of this process by drugs.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)
Research Project (R01)
Project #
Application #
Study Section
Biochemistry and Biophysics of Membranes Study Section (BBM)
Program Officer
Reid, Diane M
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
Budget End
Support Year
Fiscal Year
Total Cost
Indirect Cost
University of Southern California
Schools of Medicine
Los Angeles
United States
Zip Code
Samanta, Soma; Situ, Alan J; Ulmer, Tobias S (2014) Structural characterization of the regulatory domain of brain carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1. Biopolymers 101:398-405
Mazumder, Parichita; Suk, Jae-Eun; Ulmer, Tobias S (2013) Insight into *-synuclein plasticity and misfolding from differential micelle binding. J Phys Chem B 117:11448-59
Sahu, Divya; Zhao, Zhengwei; Tsen, Fred et al. (2012) A potentially common peptide target in secreted heat shock protein-90ýý for hypoxia-inducible factor-1ýý-positive tumors. Mol Biol Cell 23:602-13
Kim, Chungho; Schmidt, Thomas; Cho, Eun-Gyung et al. (2012) Basic amino-acid side chains regulate transmembrane integrin signalling. Nature 481:209-13
Rao, Jampani N; Warren, Gemma Z L; Estolt-Povedano, Sara et al. (2011) An environment-dependent structural switch underlies the regulation of carnitine palmitoyltransferase 1A. J Biol Chem 286:42545-54
Lokappa, Sowmya Bekshe; Ulmer, Tobias S (2011) Alpha-synuclein populates both elongated and broken helix states on small unilamellar vesicles. J Biol Chem 286:21450-7
Li, Hui; Solomon, Emilia; Duhachek Muggy, Sara et al. (2011) Metalloprotease-disintegrin ADAM12 expression is regulated by Notch signaling via microRNA-29. J Biol Chem 286:21500-10
Jeong, Kwang Won; Kim, Kyunghwan; Situ, Alan Jialun et al. (2011) Recognition of enhancer element-specific histone methylation by TIP60 in transcriptional activation. Nat Struct Mol Biol 18:1358-65
Suk, Jae-Eun; Lokappa, Sowmya Bekshe; Ulmer, Tobias S (2010) The clustering and spatial arrangement of beta-sheet sequence, but not order, govern alpha-synuclein fibrillogenesis. Biochemistry 49:1533-40
Rao, Jampani Nageswara; Jao, Christine C; Hegde, Balachandra G et al. (2010) A combinatorial NMR and EPR approach for evaluating the structural ensemble of partially folded proteins. J Am Chem Soc 132:8657-68

Showing the most recent 10 out of 15 publications