Kris A. DeMali, PhD


Associate Professor of Biochemistry
Associate Professor of Dermatology

Contact Information

Primary Office: 4-470 BSB
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-7882

Web: DeMali Laboratory


BA, Chemistry, The College of Wooster
PhD, Pharmacology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center

Post Doctorate, Molecular & Cell Biology, University of North Carolina

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry PhD
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular and Cellular Biology
Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Translational Biomedicine
Medical Scientist Training Program

Research Summary

Cell-cell interactions affect many aspects of cell behavior, including growth, differentiation and the establishment of normal tissue architecture. Loss of expression or function of components present in cell-cell interactions has been found in carcinomas and correlates with poor prognostic outcome in cancer patients. Cells have several mechanisms for linking to their neighbors. These so-called "cell junctions" consist of proteins that assemble into different structures such as gap junctions, tight junctions, adherens junctions, desmosomes and hemidesmosomes, each with specialized functions. Cell-cell junctions of the zonula adherens are prominent in epithelia and are rich in transmembrane adhesive receptors known as cadherins. The cytoplasmic tail of cadherins binds numerous proteins that serve as molecular couplers, linking cell surface adhesion and recognition to both the actin cytoskeleton and cell signaling pathways. A major focus of the work in my lab is to understand cellular mechanisms involved in assembly and maintenance of cell-cell adhesions by examining the function and regulation of proteins recruited to the cytoplasmic face of cadherins.

Selected Publications

Show All

Nelson E, Folkmann A, Henry M, DeMali K.  Vinculin activators target integrins from within the cell to increase melanoma sensitivity to chemotherapy.  Molecular cancer research : MCR.  2011 June. 9(6):712-23.

Peng X, Nelson E, Maiers J, DeMali K.  New insights into vinculin function and regulation.  International review of cell and molecular biology.  2011. 287:191-231.

Shepherd T, Klaus S, Liu X, Ramaswamy S, DeMali K, Fuentes E.  The Tiam1 PDZ domain couples to Syndecan1 and promotes cell-matrix adhesion.  Journal of molecular biology.  2010 May. 398(5):730-46.

Peng X, Cuff L, Lawton C, DeMali K.  Vinculin regulates cell-surface E-cadherin expression by binding to beta-catenin.  Journal of cell science.  2010 February. 123(Pt 4):567-77.

Wen K, Rubenstein P, DeMali K.  Vinculin nucleates actin polymerization and modifies actin filament structure.  The Journal of biological chemistry.  2009 October. 284(44):30463-73.

Johnson J, Winterwood N, DeMali K, Stipp C.  Tetraspanin CD151 regulates RhoA activation and the dynamic stability of carcinoma cell-cell contacts.  Journal of cell science.  2009 July. 122(Pt 13):2263-73.

Demali K, Jue A, Burridge K.  IpaA targets beta1 integrins and rho to promote actin cytoskeleton rearrangements necessary for Shigella entry.  The Journal of biological chemistry.  2006 December. 281(51):39534-41.

Demali K.  Vinculin--a dynamic regulator of cell adhesion.  Trends in biochemical sciences.  2004 November. 29(11):565-7.

Ellerbroek S, Wennerberg K, Arthur W, Dunty J, Bowman D, DeMali K, Der C, Burridge K.  SGEF, a RhoG guanine nucleotide exchange factor that stimulates macropinocytosis.  Molecular biology of the cell.  2004 July. 15(7):3309-19.

DeMali K, Wennerberg K, Burridge K.  Integrin signaling to the actin cytoskeleton.  Current opinion in cell biology.  2003 October. 15(5):572-82.

Date Last Modified: 10/09/2015 - 15:23:31