Contact Information

Office: WEL: 5.266A
Phone: 512-471-3175


Office: WEL 5.284
Phone: 512-471-3625

Jon D. Robertus

Professor, Faculty
Director, Center for Structural Biology
Benjamin Clayton Centennial Professorship in Biochemistry

Research Group

Robertus Group


PhD, University of California - San Diego, 1972
BA, University of Minnesota, 1967

Postdoctorate, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge (1972-74)


Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics; Institute for Cellular and Molecular Biology; Center for Structural Biology

Biochemistry: Structural biology, protein engineering, and drug design

My research group is interested in the structure, action and engineering of biologically important proteins, and in the rational design of therapeutic agents. A linchpin of our work is the determination of protein structure by the powerful method of X-ray crystallography. This allows us to see proteins at the atomic level, and in particular to see which amino acids contribute to the substrate binding and catalytic site of a given enzyme. It is often possible to bind substrate analogs to the enzyme and see how the two interact. With the three-dimensional model in hand we can hypothesize about its mechanism of action. To test our hypothesis about the mode of action we often clone the gene coding for the protein and express it in bacteria, in high yield. We then use the method of site-directed gene mutagenesis to specifically change key amino acids to other residues and measure the effect on protein activity. In this way we can determine if a given amino acid is crucial, important or generally irrelevant to the action of the protein. Besides using the protein model to guide genetic engineering work, we also use it to aid in the rational design of drugs. Many of the proteins we study are important to pathogenesis and inhibitors can be thought of as therapeutic drugs.

Representative Publications

Linsky,T.W., Monzingo,A.F.,Stone,E.M, Robertus, J.D. and Fast, W. "Crystal Structure and Promiscuous Partitioning of a Covalent Intermediate Common in the Pentein Superfamily." Chemistry & Biology 15 (2008): 467-475.

Linsky,T.W., Monzingo,A.F.,Stone,E.M, Robertus, J.D. and Fast, W. "X-ray analysis of phosphoglycerate kinase 2, a sperm-specific isoform from Mus musculus." PROTEINS 71 (2008): 1134-1144.

Suliman, H. S., Appling, D.R., and Robertus, J.D. "The Gene for Cobalamin-independent Methionine Synthase is Essential in Candida albicans: A Potential Antifungal Target." Arch. Biochem. Biophys 467 (2007): 218-226.

Monzingo, A.F., Dhaliwal,S., Dutt-Chaudhuri,A., Lyon,A., Sadow,J., Hoffman,D.W., Robertus, J.D., and Browning, K.S. "The Structure of Translation Initiation Factor eIF4E from Wheat Reveals a Novel Disulfide Bond. Plant Physiol. " Plant Physiol 143 (2007): 1504-151.

Monzingo, A.F., Ozburn, A., Xia, S., Meyer, R.J., Robertus, J.D. "The Structure of the Minimal Relaxase Domain of MobA at 2.1 Ã… Resolution." J. Mol. Biol. 366 (2007): 165-178.