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Kris A. DeMali, PhD

Professor and Interim Chair and Departmental Executive Officer
Professor of Dermatology
Professor of Biochemistry

Contact Information

4-470 Bowen Science Building (BSB)
Iowa City, IA 52242



BA, Chemistry, The College of Wooster
PhD, Pharmacology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center
Postdoctoral Fellow, Molecular & Cell Biology, University of North Carolina

Education/Training Program Affiliations

Department of Biochemistry PhD, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Molecular Medicine, Interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Translational Biomedicine, Medical Scientist Training Program

Center, Program and Institute Affiliations

Holden Comprehensive Cancer Center

Research Summary

Cell-cell interactions affect many aspects of cell behavior, including growth, differentiation and the establishment of normal tissue architecture. Loss of expression or function of components present in cell-cell interactions has been found in carcinomas and correlates with poor prognostic outcome in cancer patients. Cells have several mechanisms for linking to their neighbors. These so-called "cell junctions" consist of proteins that assemble into different structures such as gap junctions, tight junctions, adherens junctions, desmosomes and hemidesmosomes, each with specialized functions. Cell-cell junctions of the zonula adherens are prominent in epithelia and are rich in transmembrane adhesive receptors known as cadherins. The cytoplasmic tail of cadherins binds numerous proteins that serve as molecular couplers, linking cell surface adhesion and recognition to both the actin cytoskeleton and cell signaling pathways. A major focus of the work in my lab is to understand cellular mechanisms involved in assembly and maintenance of cell-cell adhesions by examining the function and regulation of proteins recruited to the cytoplasmic face of cadherins.


DeWane, G., Salvi, A. M. & DeMali, K. A. (2021). Fueling the cytoskeleton - links between cell metabolism and actin remodeling. J Cell Sci., 134(3). PMID: 33558441.

Johnson, J., Flores, M. G., Rosa, J., Han, C., Salvi, A. M., DeMali, K. A., Jagnow, J. R., Sparks, A. & Haim, H. (2020). The High Content of Fructose in Human Semen Competitively Inhibits Broad and Potent Antivirals That Target High-Mannose Glycans. J Virol., 94(9). PMID: 32102878.

Campbell, H. K., Salvi, A. M., Superfine, R. & DeMali, K. A. (2019). PAK2 links cell survival to mechanotransduction and metabolism. J. Cell Biol., 218(6), 1958-1971. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1083/jcb.201807152.

Salvi, A. M., DeMali, K. A. (2018). Mechanisms Linking Mechanotransduction and Cell Metabolism. Curr. Opin. Cell Biol, 54, 114-120.

Campbell, H. K., Heidema, C., Pilarczyk, D. G. & DeMali, K. A. (2018). SHP-2 is Activated in Response to Force on E-Cadherin and Dephosphorylates Vinculin Y822. Journal of Cell Science, 131.

Heidema, C., DeMali, K. (2018). Vinculin (VCL). Encyclopedia of Signaling Molecules,(2nd edition).

Bays, J. L., DeMali, K. A. (2017). It takes energy to resist force. Cell cycle (Georgetown, Tex.), 16(19), 1733-1734. PMID: 28820336.

Bays, J., Campbell, H., Heidema, C., Sebbagh, M. & DeMali, K. (2017). AMPK: A Novel Link Between E-cadherin Mechanotransduction and Cell Metabolism. (Vols. 19). (6), pp. 724-731. Nature Cell Biology. PMID: 28553939.

Bays, J., DeMali, K. (2017). Vinculin in Cell-Cell and Cell-Matrix Adhesions. (Vols. 74). (16), pp. 2999-3009. Cell Mol Life Sci.. PMID: 28401269.

Campbell, H., Maiers, J. & DeMali, K. (2017). Interplay Between Tight Junctions and Adherens Junctions. (Vols. pii:20014-4827). (17), pp. 30187-30188. Exp Cell Res. PMID: 28372972.

Isogai, T., Park, J. S. & Danuser, G. (2017). Cell Forces Meet Cell Metabolism. (Vols. 19). (6), pp. 591-593. Nat. Cell. Biol..

Tang, V. (2017). F1000 Article Recommendation. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.3410/f.727663432.79353508.

Kazlauskas, A. (2017). F1000 Article Recommendation. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/doi:10.3410/f.727663432.79353550.

Heidema, C., DeMali, K. (2016). Vinculin. (2nd edition) Encyclopedia of Signaling Molecules.

Jannie, K. M., Ellerbroek, S. M., Zhou, D. W., Chen, S., Crompton, D. J., GarcĂ­a, A. J. & DeMali, K. A. (2015). Vinculin-dependent actin bundling regulates cell migration and traction forces. The Biochemical journal, 465(3), 383-93. PMID: 25358683.

Mahauad-Fernandez, W. D., DeMali, K. A., Olivier, A. K. & Okeoma, C. M. (2014). Bone marrow stromal antigen 2 expressed in cancer cells promotes mammary tumor growth and metastasis. Breast Cancer Res, 16(6), 493. PMID: 25499888.

DeMali, K. A., Sun, X. & Bui, G. A. (2014). Force transmission at cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesions. Biochemistry, 53(49), 7706-17. PMID: 25474123.

Biggs, L. C., Naridze, R. L., DeMali, K. A., Lusche, D. F., Kulh, S., Soll, D. R., Schutte, B. C. & Dunnwald, M. (2014). Interferon regulatory factor 6 regulates keratinocyte migration. J Cell Sci, 127(13), 2840-8. PMID: 24777480.

Bays, J. L., Peng, X., Tolbert, C. E., Guilluy, C., Angell, A. E., Pan, Y., Superfine, R., Burridge, K. & DeMali, K. A. (2014). Vinculin phosphorylation differentially regulates mechanotransduction at cell-cell and cell-matrix adhesions. (Vols. 205). (2), pp. 251-63. J Cell Biol. PMID: 24751539.

Zaidel-Bar, R. (2014). F1000 Article Recommendation.

Wrighton, K. (2014). Mechanotransduction: Vinculin discrimination at adhesion sites. (Vols. 15). pp. 367. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology.

Leslie, M. (2014). Not All Vinculins are Created Equal. (Vols. 205). (2), pp. 129. J. Cell Biol..

Maiers, J. L., Peng, X., Fanning, A. S. & DeMali, K. A. (2013). ZO-1 recruitment to a-catenin: a novel mechanism for coupling the assembly of tight junctions to adherens junctions. Journal of cell science, Epub ahead of print. PMID: 23813953.

Johnston, J. J., Wen, K. K., Keppler-Noreuil, K., McKane, M., Maiers, J. L., Greiner, A., Sapp, J. C., DeMali, K. A., Rubenstein, P. & Biesecker, L. (2013). Functional Analysis of a De Novo ACTB Mutation in a Patient with Atypical Baraitser-Winter Syndrome. Human mutation, 34(9), 1242-1249. PMID: 23649928.

Webb, D. J., Brown, C. M. & DeMali, K. A. (2012). Signals regulating adhesion dynamics. Journal of signal transduction, 2012, 785196. PMID: 23346395.

Peng, X., Maiers, J. L., Choudhury, D., Craig, S. W. & DeMali, K. A. (2012). a-Catenin uses a novel mechanism to activate vinculin. The Journal of biological chemistry, 287(10), 7728-37. PMID: 22235119.

DeMali, K. A., Adams, J. (2012). Cell-cell and cell-matrix interactions. (Vols. 23). pp. 965. Molecular biology of the cell.

Sloan, C. M., Quinn, C. V., Peters, J. P., Farley, J., Goetzinger, C., Wernli, M., DeMali, K. A. & Ellerbroek, S. M. (2012). Divergence of Rho residue 43 impacts GEF activity. Small GTPases, 3(1), 15-22. PMID: 22673745.

Nelson, E. S., Folkmann, A. W., Henry, M. D. & DeMali, K. A. (2011). Vinculin activators target integrins from within the cell to increase melanoma sensitivity to chemotherapy. Molecular cancer research : MCR, 9(6), 712-23. PMID: 21460181.

Peng, X., Nelson, E. S., Maiers, J. L. & DeMali, K. A. (2011). New insights into vinculin function and regulation. International review of cell and molecular biology, 287, 191-231. PMID: 21414589.

Shepherd, T. R., Klaus, S. M., Liu, X., Ramaswamy, S., DeMali, K. A. & Fuentes, E. J. (2010). The Tiam1 PDZ domain couples to Syndecan1 and promotes cell-matrix adhesion. Journal of molecular biology, 398(5), 730-46. PMID: 20361982.

Peng, X., Cuff, L. E., Lawton, C. D. & DeMali, K. A. (2010). Vinculin regulates cell-surface E-cadherin expression by binding to beta-catenin. Journal of cell science, 123(Pt 4), 567-77. PMID: 20086044.

Manser, E. (2010). F1000 Article Recommendation.

Wen, K. K., Rubenstein, P. A. & DeMali, K. A. (2009). Vinculin nucleates actin polymerization and modifies actin filament structure. The Journal of biological chemistry, 284(44), 30463-73. PMID: 19736312.

Johnson, J. L., Winterwood, N., DeMali, K. A. & Stipp, C. S. (2009). Tetraspanin CD151 regulates RhoA activation and the dynamic stability of carcinoma cell-cell contacts. Journal of cell science, 122(Pt 13), 2263-73. PMID: 19509057.

Williams, R. (2008). Kris DeMali: Fixed on Cell Adhesion. (Vols. 182). (6), pp. 1032-1033. J. Cell Biol..

DeMali, K. A., Jue, A. L. & Burridge, K. (2006). IpaA targets beta1 integrins and rho to promote actin cytoskeleton rearrangements necessary for Shigella entry. The Journal of biological chemistry, 281(51), 39534-41. PMID: 17060328.

Sandquist, J. C., Swenson, K. I., DeMali, K. A., Burridge, K. & Means, A. R. (2006). Rho kinase differentially regulates phosphorylation of nonmuscle myosin II isoforms A and B during cell rounding and migration. The Journal of biological chemistry, 281(47), 35873-83. PMID: 17020881.

DeMali, K. A. (2004). Vinculin--A dynamic regulator of cell adhesion. Trends in biochemical sciences, 29(11), 565-7. PMID: 15501673.

Ellerbroek, S. M., Wennerberg, K., Arthur, W. T., Dunty, J. M., Bowman, D. R., DeMali, K. A., Der, C. & Burridge, K. (2004). SGEF, a RhoG guanine nucleotide exchange factor that stimulates macropinocytosis. Molecular biology of the cell, 15(7), 3309-19. PMID: 15133129.

DeMali, K. A., Wennerberg, K. & Burridge, K. (2003). Integrin signaling to the actin cytoskeleton. Current opinion in cell biology, 15(5), 572-82. PMID: 14519392.

DeMali, K. A., Burridge, K. (2003). Coupling membrane protrusion and cell adhesion. Journal of cell science, 116, 2389-97. PMID: 12766185.

Craig, S. W., Chen, H. (2003). Lamellipodia Protrusion:Moving Interactions of Vinculin and Arp2/3. (Vols. 13). (4), pp. 163-165. Curr. Biol..

Bailly, M. (2003). Connecting Cell Adhesion to the Actin Polymerization Machinery: Vinculin as the Missing Link?. (Vols. 13). (4), pp. 163-165. Trends Cell Biol..

DeMali, K. A., Barlow, C. A. & Burridge, K. (2002). Recruitment of the Arp2/3 complex to vinculin: coupling membrane protrusion to matrix adhesion. The Journal of cell biology, 159(5), 881-91. PMID: 12473693.

Tuma, R., Wells, (2002). Cells and More Cells: The American Society for Cell Biology. (Vols. 156). pp. 220-226. J. Cell Biol..

Kovacs, E. M., Yap, A. S. (2002). The Web and the Rock: Cell Adhesion and the Arp2/3 Complex. (Vols. 3). (6), pp. 760-761. Dev. Cell.

LeBrasseur, N. (2002). Build Actin at the Right Place, Right Time. (Vols. 159). (5), pp. 726. J. Cell Biol..

Schlesinger, T. K., DeMali, K. A., Johnson, G. L. & Kazlauskas, A. (1999). Platelet-derived growth factor-dependent association of the GTPase-activating protein of Ras and Src. The Biochemical journal, 344(Pt 2), 519-26. PMID: 10567236.

DeMali, K. A., Godwin, S. L., Soltoff, S. P. & Kazlauskas, A. (1999). Multiple roles for Src in a PDGF-stimulated cell. Experimental cell research, 253(1), 271-9. PMID: 10579928.

Rosenkranz, S., DeMali, K. A., Gelderloos, J. A., Bazenet, C. & Kazlauskas, A. (1999). Identification of the receptor-associated signaling enzymes that are required for platelet-derived growth factor-AA-dependent chemotaxis and DNA synthesis. The Journal of biological chemistry, 274(40), 28335-43. PMID: 10497192.

Plattner, R., Kadlec, L., DeMali, K. A., Kazlauskas, A. & Pendergast, A. M. (1999). c-Abl is activated by growth factors and Src family kinases and has a role in the cellular response to PDGF. Genes & development, 13(18), 2400-11. PMID: 10500097.

DeMali, K. A., Balciunaite, E. & Kazlauskas, A. (1999). Integrins enhance platelet-derived growth factor (PDGF)-dependent responses by altering the signal relay enzymes that are recruited to the PDGF beta receptor. The Journal of biological chemistry, 274(28), 19551-8. PMID: 10391888.

DeMali, K. A., Kazlauskas, A. (1998). Activation of Src family members is not required for the platelet-derived growth factor beta receptor to initiate mitogenesis. Molecular and cellular biology, 18(4), 2014-22. PMID: 9528773.

DeMali, K. A., Whiteford, C. C., Ulug, E. T. & Kazlauskas, A. (1997). Platelet-derived growth factor-dependent cellular transformation requires either phospholipase Cgamma or phosphatidylinositol 3 kinase. The Journal of biological chemistry, 272(14), 9011-8. PMID: 9083025.

Valenzuela, C. F., Kazlauskas, A., Brozowski, S. J., Weiner, J. L., Demali, K. A., McDonald, B. J., Moss, S. J., Dunwiddie, T. V. & Harris, R. A. (1995). Platelet-derived growth factor receptor is a novel modulator of type A gamma-aminobutyric acid-gated ion channels. Molecular pharmacology, 48(6), 1099-107. PMID: 8848010.

DeMali, K. A., Williams, T. R. (1994). Determination of the content of water in bovine corneas by differential scanning calorimetry and thermogravimetric analysis. Ophthalmic research, 26(2), 105-9. PMID: 8196931.