Alicia Salvi (Ortiz)

Mentor: Kris A. DeMali, PhD

Year Entered Into Program: 2016

Terminal Degree(s) Received: PhD 2021

Research Description

An investigation in metabolism changes in response to force on E-cadherin

Recently, our lab has discovered a link between metabolism and E-cadherin mediated force response. Our results demonstrate that the application of force stimulates actomyosin contractility, increases glucose uptake, and ATP production. This increase in ATP provides the energy necessary to resist physiological forces through reinforcement of adhesion complexes and the actin cytoskeleton. However, how cells modulate ATP production in response to force is not well understood. The objective of my research project is to define mechanisms E-cadherin employs to increase glucose uptake and intracellular ATP levels in response to force. To achieve this objective, I will determine the effects of GLUT1 inhibition on force-stimulated E-cadherin signaling and cytoskeleton reinforcement and determine how GLUT1 is affected by force.


  • Panelist: Biochemistry Graduate Student Panel Discussion Series, University of Iowa, Nov 2020
  • NIH / NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship (F31 GM135962), 2020-2022
  • Fellowship appointment on the Pharmacological Sciences Training Program (NIH T32 GM067795), University of Iowa, 2017-2019
  • The Smith-Gehring Graduate Fellowship
  • Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Minority PhD (MPHD) Program Scholar, 2016


  1. Salvi, A.M., Bays, J.L., Mackin S.R., DeMali, K.A.:  Ankyrin G Organizes Membrane Components to Promote Coupling of Cell Mechanics and Metabolism. Nature Cell Biology, (2020). (Submitted)
  2. Salvi, A.M., DeWane, G., DeMali, K.A.:  Fueling the Cytoskeleton: Links Between Cell Metabolism and Actin Remodeling. Journal of Cell Science, (2020). (Submitted) 
  3. Campbell, H.K., Salvi, A.M., O’Brien, T., Superfine, R., DeMali, K.A.:  The force sensitive protein PAK2 links cell survival to mechanotransduction and metabolism. Journal of Cell Biology, 218(6):1958-1971, 2019.  PMCID: PMC6548143
  4. Salvi, A.M. and DeMali, K.A.:  Mechanisms linking mechanotransduction and cell metabolism. Current opinion in cell biology 54(2018):114-120, 2018.  PMCID: PMC6487484