Enrique M. De La Cruz PhD

Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry

Research Interests

Cytoskeleton; RNA helicases; Kinetics; Thermodynamics; Polymer Mechanics; Processivity

Current Projects

Persistence software can be found on our Lab page.

Research Summary

Identifying the chemical and physical principles of work production by molecular motor protein enzymes and polymers has emerged as a major area in contemporary Biochemistry and Biophysics. My research program integrates comprehensive kinetic and thermodynamic analyses of catalytic reaction pathways with computational and mathematical modeling to develop and test predictive models of work output by molecular motor proteins, enzyme function and adaptation, and biopolymer fragmentation. Our work has revealed how enzymatic adaptations among evolutionary related molecular motor proteins determine their biological function, and how cells regulate the length and assembly dynamics of polymers that drive cell movement.

Our current and future efforts focus primarily in three areas:

A) identifying the molecular origins of actin filament elasticity and the mechanical basis of filament severing by regulatory proteins;

B) defining how ATP utilization by DEAD-box proteins (DBPs) is coupled to duplex rRNA unwinding; and

C) determining the catalytic pathways, specificities and biological activities of nucleotide pyrophosphatase/phosphodiesterase (NPP) enzymes.

Selected Publications

  • W. Cao & EM De La Cruz (2013) Quantitative full time course analysis of nonlinear enzyme cycling kinetics. Nature Scientific Reports 3, 2658. DOI:10.1038/srep02658
  • H Kang, MJ Bradley, BR McCullough, A Pierre, EE Grintsevich, E Reisler & EM De La Cruz (2012) Identification of cation binding sites on actin that drive polymerization and modulate bending stiffness. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 109,16923-7.
  • AC Reymann, R Boujemaa-Paterski, JL Martiel, C Guérin, W Cao, HF Chin, EM De La Cruz, M Théry & L Blanchoin (2012) Actin network architecture can determine myosin motor activity. Science 336:1310-4.
  • W Cao, MM Coman, S Ding, A Henn, ER Middleton, E Rhoades, DD Hackney, AM Pyle & EM De La Cruz (2011) Mechanism of Mss116 ATPase reveals functional diversity of DEAD-box proteins. J. Mol. Biol. 409, 399-414.
  • BR McCullough, E Grintsevich, C Chen, H Kang, A Hutchison, A Henn, W Cao, C Suarez, J-L Martiel, JL Blanchoin, E Reisler & EM De La Cruz (2011) Modulation of actin filament flexibility promotes severing by cofilin. Biophys. J. 101, 151-9.
  • A Henn, W Cao, N Licciardello, SE Heitkamp, DD Hackney & EM De La Cruz (2010) Pathway of ATP utilization and duplex rRNA unwinding by the DEAD box helicase, DbpA. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 107, 4046-50. *Faculty of 1000 “Must Read”
  • BR McCullough, L Blanchoin, JL Martiel & EM De La Cruz (2008) Cofilin Increases the Bending Flexibility of Actin Filaments: Implications for Severing and Cell Mechanics. J. Mol. Biol., 381, 550-558.
  • LP Saunders, W Cao, WC Chang, RA Albright, DT Braddock & EM De La Cruz (2011) Kinetic analysis of autotoxin reveals substrate-specific catalytic pathways and a mechanism for lysophophatidic actin distribution. J. Biol. Chem. 286, 30130-41.
  • EM De La Cruz, J Roland, BR McCullough, L Blanchoin, and J-L Martiel (2010) Origin of Twist-Bend Coupling in Actin Filaments. Biophys. J., 99:1852-1860.
  • HF Chin, Y Cai, S Menon, S Ferro-Novick, KM Reinisch & EM De La Cruz (2009) Kinetic analysis of the guanine nucleotide exchange activity of TRAPP, a multimeric Ypt1p exchange factor. J. Mol. Biol. 389, 275-88.


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