Biosciences Graduate Program

Ernesto Fuentes, PhD


Associate Professor of Biochemistry

Contact Information

Primary Office: 4-632 BSB
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-353-4244

Web: Fuentes Laboratory
Web: Google Scholar Citations


BChE, Chemical Engineering, University of Dayton
MS, Biology, University of Dayton
PhD, Biochemistry, University of Illinois

Post Doctorate, Structural Biology, University of Pennsylvania
Post Doctorate, Structural and Cancer 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

Research in my laboratory focuses on important problems in signal transduction pertinent to human health. Our approach is interdisciplinary, combining, biochemical, biophysical, cell biological and molecular biology methods to gain insight into the mechanisms governing signal transduction in eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems. The major goal is to elucidate the molecular mechanisms that regulate signal transduction. Our recent work has focused on two systems.

The first system involves the Rho family of GTPases, a subfamily of the well known Ras superfamily. In their active state, Rho GTPases interact with effector proteins to coordinate changes in gene expression and the actin cytoskeleton. Several molecules, including guanine exchange factors (GEFs), regulate the active state of Rho GTPases. Importantly, the aberrant function of GEFs has been associated with developmental anomalies, mental retardation, and human disease. The long-term goal of this research is to understand the detailed molecular mechanism(s) by which GEF proteins regulate the activation of Rho-family GTPases and how their deregulation leads to disease.

The second system centers on bacterial chemosensory in the soil bacterium Myxococcus xanthus. Chemosensory in Myxococcus xanthus is essential for developmental gene expression, biofilm formation, intercellular communication and gliding motility. In collaboration with Dr. John Kirby (U of I, Microbiology) we are elucidating the biochemical and structural basis for Myxococcus xanthus chemosensory signaling.

Center, Program and Institute Affiliations

Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing
Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

Selected Publications

Show All

Darnell C, Wilson J, Tiwari N, Fuentes E, Kirby J.  Chemosensory regulation of a HEAT-repeat protein couples aggregation and sporulation in Myxococcus xanthus.  J Bacteriol.  2014. 196(17):3160-8.

Willett J, Tiwari N, Muller S, Hummels K, Houtman J, Fuentes E, Kirby J.  Specificity residues determine binding affinity for two-component signal transduction systems.  MBio.  2013 November. 4(6):e00420-13.

Joshi M, Gakhar L, Fuentes E.  High-resolution structure of the Tiam1 PHn-CC-Ex domain.  Acta crystallographica. Section F, Structural biology and crystallization communications.  2013 July. 69(Pt 7):744-52.

Liu Y, Collins C, Kiosses W, Murray A, Joshi M, Shepherd T, Fuentes E, Tzima E.  A novel pathway spatiotemporally activates Rac1 and redox signaling in response to fluid shear stress.  The Journal of cell biology.  2013 June. 201(6):863-73.

Liu X, Shepherd T, Murray A, Xu Z, Fuentes E.  The structure of the Tiam1 PDZ domain/ phospho-syndecan1 complex reveals a ligand conformation that modulates protein dynamics.  Structure (London, England : 1993).  2013 March. 21(3):342-54.

Shepherd T, Hard R, Murray A, Pei D, Fuentes E.  Distinct ligand specificity of the Tiam1 and Tiam2 PDZ domains.  Biochemistry.  2011 March. 50(8):1296-308.

Shepherd T, Fuentes E.  Structural and thermodynamic analysis of PDZ-ligand interactions.  Methods in enzymology.  2011. 488:81-100.

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.

Petit C, Zhang J, Sapienza P, Fuentes E, Lee A.  Hidden dynamic allostery in a PDZ domain.  Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.  2009 October. 106(43):18249-54.

Law A, Fuentes E, Lee A.  Conservation of side-chain dynamics within a protein family.  Journal of the American Chemical Society.  2009 May. 131(18):6322-3.

Date Last Modified: 06/06/2016 - 13:17:48