Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

About the PNAS Member Editor
Name Marletta, Michael A.
Location University of California, Berkeley
Primary Field Biochemistry
Secondary Field Chemistry
 Election Citation
Marletta made fundamental discoveries regarding the biological role of nitric oxide, expanding our understanding of cellular gas sensing mechanisms. His studies on guanylate cyclases, which can sense either oxygen or nitric oxide, have broadened the physiological landscape defined by these proteins.
 Research Interests
Using chemical approaches to probe biological function is the central focus of the laboratory. A specific emphasis has been on the study of protein function and enzyme reaction mechanisms. Initial experiments carried out in the early 1980's on a novel pathway involving mammalian biosynthesis of nitrate have led to a sustained effort in nitric oxide (NO) signaling with a focus on the mechanism of nitric oxide synthase and the target enzyme for NO, the soluble isoform of guanylate cyclase. The discovery of prokaryotic NO and oxygen sensors that are related to guanylate cyclase have recently led to a general molecular understanding of gas sensing mechanisms in biology. The signaling pathways in these prokaryotes are under current study with a focus on structure and function relationships and in vivo function. Eukaryotic studies have been expanded to S-nitrosation chemistry involved in non-cGMP-dependent NO signaling where the search for and study of proteins that would impart specificity to the promiscuous solution reactivity are being sought. Our finding of a specific transnitrosation reaction between thioredoxin and caspase-3 is being studied further and expanded to other proteins. Other investigations underway include metal sensing in biology and heme metabolism and protein trafficking in Plasmodium falciparum.

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