Dr. Kamm’s research at UT Southwestern involves aspects of muscle biology and cell motility. In studies of vascular, airway and visceral smooth muscle she has concentrated on relating mechanical events of contraction and relaxation to the generation of biochemical intermediates that regulate contractility. Smooth muscle contraction and aspects of cell motility such as cytokinesis and locomotion result from the action of the motor protein myosin II on the actin cytoskeleton. Smooth and non-muscle isoforms of myosin II are regulated by phosphorylation of their regulatory light chains, owing in part or whole to the activity of calcium/calmodulin-dependent myosin light chain kinase (MLCK).

The activation of MLCK by binding of calcium/calmodulin is assessed by fluorescence resonance energy transfer in tissues from transgenic mice expressing chimeric constructs of MLCK labeled with variants of green fluorescent protein. To determine which aspects of actomyosin-dependent contraction and cell motility require MLCK activity, targeted gene ablation approaches are used. These studies of smooth muscle contraction bear on the pathophysiology of hypertension, asthma and premature labor. In addition, studies of cell migration and division elucidate aspects of the coronary vascular response to injury that leads to restenosis following angioplasty.


Graduate School Stephens College (1972), Biology
Undergraduate Stephens College (1972)
Graduate School University of Missouri-Columbia (1977)

Research Interest

  • Non-muscle cell motility
  • Regulation of contractile proteins
  • Smooth, skeletal and cardiac muscle physiology


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

Signaling processes for initiating smooth muscle contraction upon neural stimulation
Ding, HL, JW Ryder, JT Stull and KE Kamm J Biol Chem June 2009 284 15541-8
Functional skeletal muscle regeneration from differentiating embryonic stem cells
Darabi, R, K Gehlback, RM Bachoo, S Kamatgh, M Osowa, KE Kamm, M Kyba, RCR Perlingeiro Nature Med 2008 14 134-143
Myosin light chain kinase is central to smooth muscle contraction and required for gastrointestinal motility in mice
He W, Peng YJ, Zhang, WC, Lu N, Tang J, Chen C, Zhang CH, Gao S, Chen HQ, Zhi G, Feil R, Kamm KE, Stull, JT, Gao X, Zhu MS Gastroenterology 2008 135 610-620
Myosin light chain kinase activation and calcium sensitization in smooth muscle in vivo.
Mizuno Y, Isotani E, Huang J, Ding H, Stull JT, Kamm KE Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2008 295 C358-C364
Myosin regulatory light chain phosphorylation attenuates cardiac hypertrophy
Huang J, Shelton JM, Richardson JA, Kamm KE, Stull JT. J Biol Chem 2008 283 19748-56

Honors & Awards

  • UT Regents' Outstanding Teaching Award
  • Member, Southwestern Academy of Teachers
  • Councilor, Biophysical Society
  • New Investigator Award, NIH
  • National Research Service Award
  • A.B. cum laude, Stephens College

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • American Physiological Society
  • Biophysical Society
  • Member Graduate Program in Integrative Biology