Neal Alto earned his PhD in Cell and Developmental Biology from the Oregon Health and Sciences University in 2003. He was then appointed as a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of California San Diego. In 2007, he became an assistant professor in the Department of Microbiology at UT Southwestern.
The Alto laboratory is interested in the cross species communication between bacterial pathogens and human signal transduction systems. Many bacteria mediate infectious disease by changing the biochemical events in the host cell interior. In once common scenario, bacteria inject virulence factors directly into a particular host cell compartment. These “effectors,” as they are commonly known, will chemically modify or directly mimic host-signaling enzymes such as kinases, phosphatases, or GTPases.
The changes in host cellular environment elicited by each bacterial effector protein are what alter the host physiology leading to severe infectious disease. Dr. Alto and his associates use recombinant DNA techniques, protein chemistry, model genetic systems to study the actions of bacterial virulence factors.
|Undergraduate||Western Washington University (1996), Cell Biology|
|Graduate School||Oregon Health Science University (2003), Cell Biology|
- Human Signal Transduction
- Mechanisms of Toxins and Effectors
- Microbioal Pathogenesis
- Ras Super-family GTPases
- The assembly of a GTPase-kinase signalling complex by a bacterial catalytic scaffold.
- Selyunin AS, Sutton SE, Weigele BA, Reddick LE, Orchard RC, Bresson SM, Tomchick DR, Alto NM Nature 2011 Jan 469 7328 107-11
- Structural insights into host GTPase isoform selection by a family of bacterial GEF mimics.
- Huang Z, Sutton SE, Wallenfang AJ, Orchard RC, Wu X, Feng Y, Chai J, Alto NM Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 2009 Aug 16 8 853-60
- Structure and function of Salmonella SifA indicate that its interactions with SKIP, SseJ, and RhoA family GTPases induce endosomal tubulation.
- Ohlson MB, Huang Z, Alto NM, Blanc MP, Dixon JE, Chai J, Miller SI Cell Host Microbe 2008 Nov 4 5 434-46
- The Type III effector EspF coordinates membrane trafficking by the spatiotemporal activation of two eukaryotic signaling pathways.
- Alto NM et al. The Journal of Cell Biology September 2007 24;178(7) 1265-78
- Identification of a Bacterial Type III Effector Family with G Protein Mimicry Functions
- Alto NM, Shao F, Lazar CS, Brost RL, Chua G, Mattoo S, McMahon SA, Ghosh P, Hughes TR, Boone C, Dixon JE Cell January 2006 124 1-13
- Regulation of NMDA receptors by an associated phosphatase-kinase signaling complex
- Westphal RS, Tavalin SJ, Lin JW, Alto NM, Fraser ID, Langeberg LK, Sheng M, Scott JD Science July 1999 285(5424) 93-6
- Identification of F-actin as the dynamic hub in a microbial-induced GTPase polarity circuit.
- Orchard RO, Kittisopikul M, Altschuler SJ, Wu LF, Suel GM, and Alto NM Cell 2012 Feb (in press)