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Benjamin R. Myers

Benjamin R. Myers, PhD

Languages spoken: English

Academic Information

Departments Primary - Oncological Sciences , Adjunct - Biochemistry

Academic Office Information

Research Interests

  • Hedgehog Pathway
  • Wnt Pathway
  • Membrane Proteins
  • Membrane Lipids
  • Cilia
  • Second Messenger Systems
  • Medulloblastoma
  • Carcinoma, Basal Cell

Ben grew up in NJ and obtained his A.B. degree in Biochemical Sciences from Harvard University. Afterwards, he promptly abandoned the east coast to pursue his Ph.D. in a sunnier environment with David Julius at the University of California, San Francisco, where he focused on the gating of transient receptor potential ion channels using yeast-based functional selections and electrophysiology. For his postdoctoral fellowship, Ben shifted gears by studying membrane signaling in a different area of biology -- development and cancer signaling. He joined the lab of Philip Beachy at Stanford University, where he studied the mechanism of Hedgehog signaling at the membrane from biochemical and biophysical perspectives. Ben joined the faculty of the University of Utah in early 2018.

Research Statement

In multicellular organisms, cell-cell communication is tightly controlled to ensure proper development and prevent diseases such as cancer. Our lab studies a key aspect of this process: how extracellular signals are transmitted across the membrane to the cell interior. ​We are tackling this problem from an interdisciplinary perspective, drawing on membrane biochemistry, biophysics, cell biology, physiology, and a range of related approaches. A better understanding of transmembrane signaling will teach us how cellular identity is specified during development and in post-embryonic tissues, and help us to design better therapies for an array of malignancies.

Education History

Doctoral Training University of California San Francisco
Harvard University

Selected Publications

Journal Article

  1. Walker MF, Zhang J, Steiner W, Ku PI, Zhu JF, Michaelson Z, Yen YC, Long AB, Casey MJ, Poddar A, Nelson IB, Arveseth CD, Nagel F, Clough R, LaPotin S, Kwan KM, Schulz S, Stewart RA, Tesmer JJG, Caspary T, Subramanian R, Ge X, Myers BR co-corresponding author (2023). A Ciliary SMOOTHENED-GRK2-PKA Signaling Pathway Initiates Hedgehog Signal Transduction (under review at PLOS Biology). Biorxiv. (Read full article)
  2. Happ JT, Arveseth CD, Bruystens J, Bertinetti D, Nelson IB, Olivieri C, Zhang J, Hedeen DS, Zhu JF, Capener JL, Brckel JW, Vu L, King CC, Ruiz-Perez VL, Ge X, Veglia G, Herberg FW, Taylor SS, Myers BR co-corresponding author (2022). A PKA inhibitor motif within SMOOTHENED controls Hedgehog signal transduction. Nat Struct Mol Biol, 29(10), 990-999. (Read full article)
  3. Arveseth CD, Happ JT, Hedeen DS, Zhu JF, Capener JL, Klatt Shaw D, Deshpande I, Liang J, Xu J, Stubben SL, Nelson IB, Walker MF, Kawakami K, Inoue A, Krogan NJ, Grunwald DJ, Httenhain R, Manglik A, Myers BR (2021). Smoothened transduces Hedgehog signals via activity-dependent sequestration of PKA catalytic subunits. PLoS Biol, 19(4), e3001191. (Read full article)
  4. Deshpande I, Liang J, Hedeen D, Roberts KJ, Zhang Y, Ha B, Latorraca NR, Faust B, Dror RO, Beachy PA, Myers BR, Manglik A co-corresponding author (2019). Smoothened stimulation by membrane sterols drives Hedgehog pathway activity. Nature, 571(7764), 284-288. (Read full article)
  5. Zhang Y, Bulkley DP, Xin Y, Roberts KJ, Asarnow DE, Sharma A, Myers BR, Cho W, Cheng Y, Beachy PA (2018). Structural Basis for Cholesterol Transport-like Activity of the Hedgehog Receptor Patched. Cell, 175(5), 1352-1364.e14. (Read full article)
  6. Myers BR, Neahring L, Zhang Y, Roberts KJ, Beachy PA (2017). Rapid, direct activity assays for Smoothened reveal Hedgehog pathway regulation by membrane cholesterol and extracellular sodium. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114(52), E11141-E11150. (Read full article)
  7. Sweeney RT, McClary AC, Myers BR, Biscocho J, Neahring L, Kwei KA, Qu K, Gong X, Ng T, Jones CD, Varma S, Odegaard JI, Sugiyama T, Koyota S, Rubin BP, Troxell ML, Pelham RJ, Zehnder JL, Beachy PA, Pollack JR, West RB co-first author (2014). Identification of recurrent SMO and BRAF mutations in ameloblastomas. Nat Genet, 46(7), 722-5. (Read full article)
  8. Myers BR, Sever N, Chong YC, Kim J, Belani JD, Rychnovsky S, Bazan JF, Beachy PA (2013). Hedgehog pathway modulation by multiple lipid binding sites on the smoothened effector of signal response. Dev Cell, 26(4), 346-57. (Read full article)
  9. Myers BR, Sigal YM, Julius D (2009). Evolution of thermal response properties in a cold-activated TRP channel. PLoS One, 4(5), e5741. (Read full article)
  10. Myers BR, Saimi Y, Julius D, Kung C (2008). Multiple unbiased prospective screens identify TRP channels and their conserved gating elements. J Gen Physiol, 132(5), 481-6. (Read full article)
  11. Prober DA, Zimmerman S, Myers BR, McDermott BM Jr, Kim SH, Caron S, Rihel J, Solnica-Krezel L, Julius D, Hudspeth AJ, Schier AF (2008). Zebrafish TRPA1 channels are required for chemosensation but not for thermosensation or mechanosensory hair cell function. J Neurosci, 28(40), 10102-10. (Read full article)
  12. Myers BR, Bohlen CJ, Julius D (2008). A yeast genetic screen reveals a critical role for the pore helix domain in TRP channel gating. Neuron, 58(3), 362-73. (Read full article)
  13. Myers BR, Julius D (2007). TRP channel structural biology: new roles for an old fold. Neuron, 54(6), 847-50. (Read full article)
  14. Desai BN, Myers BR, Schreiber SL (2002). FKBP12-rapamycin-associated protein associates with mitochondria and senses osmotic stress via mitochondrial dysfunction. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 99(7), 4319-24. (Read full article)

Book Chapter

  1. Nelson IB, Myers BR (2021). Studies of SMOOTHENED Activation in Cell-Free and Reconstituted Systems. In Methods Mol Biol (2374, pp. 161-174). United States. (Read full article)
  2. Walker MF, Myers BR (2021). Rapid, Direct SMOOTHENED Activity Assays in Live Cells Using cAMP-Based Conformational Sensors. In Methods Mol Biol (2374, pp. 175-184). United States. (Read full article)