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Francisco Barrera

Contact Info

FacultyBarreraFrancisco Barrera
Associate Professor, BCMB

Office: Mossman 412,  (865-974-4496)
Lab: Mossman 441B

Lab Website:

Ph.D. Universidad Miguel Hernández de Elche (Spain)

Research Statement

The plasma membrane constitutes the barrier that delineates communication between cells and their environment. As a consequence, any cell-based therapy entails interaction with membrane components. In fact, half of the currently used drugs target membrane proteins, primarily receptors. The functional relevance of the membrane is also reflected by the fact that a quarter of all proteins coded by the genome are embedded in the lipid bilayer, while many others bind peripherally. The Barrera laboratory uses biophysical, biochemical, molecular biology, cell biology and computational tools to investigate the interplay between proteins and lipids in systems of biomedical relevance.

Selected Publications

(Undergraduates underlined, Graduate students italicized)

Westerfield JM, Gupta C, Scott HL, Ye Y, Cameron A, Mertz B, Barrera FN. “Ions Modulate Key Interactions between pHLIP and Lipid Membranes”. Biophysical Journal (2019). PMID: 31422821. PDF | URL. Highlighted in the New and Notable section.

Nguyen VP, Palanikumar L, Kennel SJ, Alves DS, Ye Y, Wall JS, Magzoub M, Barrera FN. “Mechanistic insights into the pH-dependent membrane peptide ATRAM”. Journal of Controlled Release (2019). PMID: 30763623. PDF | URL

Daiane S Alves, Justin M Westerfield, Xiaojun Shi, Vanessa P Nguyen, Katherine M Stefanski, Kristen R Booth, Soyeon Kim, Jennifer Morrell-Falvey, Bing-Cheng Wang, Steven M Abel, Adam W Smith, Francisco N Barrera. “A novel pH-dependent membrane peptide that binds to EphA2 and inhibits cell migration.” eLife (2018). PMID: 30222105. PDF | URL

Alexander G. Karabadzhak, Lisa M. Petti, Francisco N. Barrera, Anne P. B. Edwards, Andrés Moya-Rodríguez, Yury S. Polikanov, J. Alfredo Freites, Douglas J. Tobias, Donald M. Engelman, and Daniel DiMaio. “Two transmembrane dimers of the bovine papillomavirus E5 oncoprotein clamp the PDGF β receptor in an active dimeric conformation.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2017). PMID: 28808001. PDF | URL

Haden L. Scott, Justin M. Westerfield, and Francisco N. Barrera. “Determination of the Membrane Translocation pK of the pH-Low Insertion Peptide.” Biophysical Journal (2017). PMID: 28834723. PDF | URL

Vanessa P. Nguyen, Daiane S. Alves, Haden L. Scott, Forrest L. Davis, and Francisco N. Barrera. “A Novel Soluble Peptide with pH-Responsive Membrane Insertion.” Biochemistry (2015). PMID: 26497400. PDF | URLSelected for Editor’s Choice

Cheng, Christopher, Raman Bahal, Imran Babar, Zachary Pincus, Francisco Barrera, Connie Liu, Alexander Svoronos, Demetrios Braddock, Peter Glazer, Donald Engelman, W. Saltzman, and Frank Slack. “MicroRNA Silencing for Cancer Therapy Targeted to the Tumour Microenvironment.” Nature 518.7537 (2015): 107-10. PMID:25409146 PDF URL