A-to-Z Index


Nathan T. Wright, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Group Website

Education, Honors, Awards

  • Assistant Professor James Madison University (2011 - present)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Johns Hopkins University (2009-2011)
  • Adjunct Instructor, Loyola University (MD) (2010)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Maryland Baltimore (2008)
  • Ph.D., Biochemistry, University of Maryland Baltimore (2003-2008)
  • M.S., Cellular and Molecular Biology, University of Pennsylvania (2000-2002)
  • B.S., Biology, Haverford College (1996-2000)

Research Interests

  • Protein structure/function relationships
  • NMR and X-ray protein structure determination
  • Protein dynamics
  • Small molecule and peptide agonist/antagonists of proteins

Research Description

Think about how versatile a human muscle cell must be- it has to have the structural integrity to withstand strong forces, yet must be pliable enough to bend and stretch repeatedly without breaking.  Muscles accomplish this contrasting need for strength and motion through a complex lattice of proteins and membranes.  Obscurin, a large protein discovered within the past decade, helps in this feat by linking the muscle contractile apparatus with various cell membranes. This large, highly modular protein is made up of at least 71 discrete domains.  Most of these domains act as either adhesion points for other structural molecules, signaling moieties, or linker regions. Additionally, the protein contains elements that sense stretch, and can promote muscle repair.  Likewise, mutations in these domains are linked to muscle diseases such as cardiomyopathy and several muscular dystrophies.  My lab is focused on studying the structure of the individual domains of obscurin and obscurin-binding partners.  This will help determine the cellular and molecular mechanism of how obscurin performs its job with atomic-scale resolution.  To do this, students in Dr. Wright’s lab with use a variety of structural biochemistry techniques including protein x-ray crystallography and multidimensional heteronuclear NMR analysis.  Insight gained from these studies will allow both better understanding of the molecular basis of human muscle diseases, and potentially novel ways to treat these diseases.

Selected Recent Publications

  • Wright NT, Mumjadar A, Schildbach JF, Chemical shift assignments for F-plasmid TraI (381-569), Biomol NMR Assign 2011 Apr; 5(1): 67-70
  • Hernández-Ochoa EO, Prosser BL, Wright NT, Contreras M, Weber DJ, Schneider MF, Augmentation of Cav1 channel current and action potential duration after uptake of S100A1 in sympathetic ganglion neurons, Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 2009 Oct; 97(4):C955-70
  • Wright NT, Cannon BR, Zimmer DB, Weber DJ, Structure and Function of S100A1 (review).  Current Chemical Biology 2009 May; 3(2): 138-145
  • Wright NT, Cannon BR, Morgan MT, Varney KM, Zimmer DB, Weber DJ, Solution structure of S100A1 bound to the CapZ peptide (TRTK12), Journal of Molecular Biology 2009 Mar 13; 386(5): 1265-77
  • Wright NT, Inman KG, Levine JA, Cannon BR, Varney KM, Weber DJ, Refinement of the solution structure and dynamic properties of Ca(2+)-bound rat S100B. J Biomol NMR. 2008 Dec; 42(4):279-86.
  • Wright NT, Prosser BL, Varney KM, Zimmer DB, Schneider MF, Weber DJ, Ca2+-S100A1 and Ca2+-calmodulin compete for the same binding site on the ryanodine receptor, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2008 Sep 26; 283(39):26676-83
  • Rifat D*, Wright NT*, Varney KM, Weber DJ, Black LW, Restriction endonuclease inhibitor IPI* of bacteriophage T4: a novel structure for a dedicated target, Journal of Molecular Biology 2008 Jan 18; 375(3):720-34
  • Prosser BL*, Wright NT*, Hernãndez-Ochoa EO, Varney KM, Liu Y, Olojo RO, Zimmer DB, Weber DJ, Schneider MF.S100A1 binds to the calmodulin binding site of ryanodine receptor and modulates skeletal muscle EC coupling, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2007 Feb 22; 283(8):5046-57
  • Wright NT, Varney KM, Ellis KC, Markowitz J, Gitti RK, Zimmer DB, Weber DJ, The three-dimensional solution structure of Ca2+-bound S100A1 as determined by NMR spectroscopy, Journal of Molecular Biology 2005 Oct 21; 353(2):410-26
  • Gitti R, Wright NT, Margolis JW, Varney KM, Weber DJ, Margolis FL, Backbone Dynamics of the Olfactory Marker Protein As Studied by (15)N NMR Relaxation Measurements, Biochemistry 2005 Jul 19; 44(28):9673-9679