Urszula Derewenda, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

E-mail Address: ud3a@virginia.edu
Telephone: 434-243-4267
Address: Molecular Physiology
and Biological Physics
University of Virginia
PO Box 800736
Charlottesville, VA 22903

Research Description

Our primary interest is in the mechanisms by which protein molecules accomplish their diverse biological tasks. Crystallography and molecular biology are the primary tools with which we probe into the structure-function relationships in complex proteins. There are two major themes in our work: structural biology of cytoskeletal regulation and the mechanism of hydrolytic enzymes, such as esterases and thioesterases.


The N-terminal coiled-coil of Ndel1 is a regulated scaffold that recruits LIS1 to dynein. Zyłkiewicz E, Kijańska M, Choi WC, Derewenda U, Derewenda ZS, Stukenberg PT. J Cell Biol. 2011 Feb 7;192(3):433-45. Epub 2011 Jan 31. PMID: 21282465

The solution structure and dynamics of the DH-PH module of PDZRhoGEF in isolation and in complex with nucleotide-free RhoA. Cierpicki T, Bielnicki J, Zheng M, Gruszczyk J, Kasterka M, Petoukhov M, Zhang A, Fernandez EJ, Svergun DI, Derewenda U, Bushweller JH, Derewenda ZS. Protein Sci. 2009 Oct;18(10):2067-79. PMCID: PMC2786971

Structure and function of Bacillus subtilis YphP, a prokaryotic disulfide isomerase with a CXC catalytic motif . Derewenda U, Boczek T, Gorres KL, Yu M, Hung LW, Cooper D, Joachimiak A, Raines RT, Derewenda ZS. Biochemistry. 2009 Sep 15;48(36):8664-71. PMCID: PMC2739605

On the mechanism of autoinhibition of the RhoA-specific nucleotide exchange factor PDZRhoGEF. Zheng M, Cierpicki T, Momotani K, Artamonov MV, Derewenda U, Bushweller JH, Somlyo AV, Derewenda ZS. BMC Struct Biol. 2009 May 21;9:36. PMCID: PMC2695464

Structure of Thermotoga maritima TM0439: implications for the mechanism of bacterial GntR transcription regulators with Zn2+-binding FCD domains. Zheng M, Cooper DR, Grossoehme NE, Yu M, Hung LW, Cieslik M, Derewenda U, Lesley SA, Wilson IA, Giedroc DP, Derewenda ZS. Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr. 2009 Apr;65(Pt 4):356-65. Epub 2009 Mar 19. PMCID: PMC2659884

Degenerate specificity of PDZ domains from RhoA-specific nucleotide exchange factors PDZRhoGEF and LARG. Smietana K, Kasztura M, Paduch M, Derewenda U, Derewenda ZS, Otlewski J. Acta Biochim Pol. 2008;55(2):269-80. Epub 2008 Jun 7. PMID:18542831

The structure of the coiled-coil domain of Ndel1 and the basis of its interaction with Lis1, the causal protein of Miller-Dieker lissencephaly. Derewenda U, Tarricone C, Choi WC, Cooper DR, Lukasik S, Perrina F, Tripathy A, Kim MH, Cafiso DS, Musacchio A, Derewenda ZS. Structure. 2007 Nov;15(11):1467-81. PMID: 17997972

The molecular basis of RhoA specificity in the guanine nucleotide exchange factor PDZ-RhoGEF. Oleksy A, Opaliński Ł, Derewenda U, Derewenda ZS, Otlewski J. J Biol Chem. 2006 Oct 27;281(43):32891-7. Epub 2006 Sep 5. PMID:16954208

The DC-module of doublecortin: dynamics, domain boundaries, and functional implications. Cierpicki T, Kim MH, Cooper DR, Derewenda U, Bushweller JH, Derewenda ZS. Proteins. 2006 Sep 1;64(4):874-82. PMID: 16835924

The binding of the PDZ tandem of syntenin to target proteins. Grembecka J, Cierpicki T, Devedjiev Y, Derewenda U, Kang BS, Bushweller JH, Derewenda ZS. Biochemistry. 2006 Mar 21;45(11):3674-83. PMID: 16533050

B. subtilis ykuD protein at 2.0 A resolution: insights into the structure and function of a novel, ubiquitous family of bacterial enzymes. Bielnicki J, Devedjiev Y, Derewenda U, Dauter Z, Joachimiak A, Derewenda ZS. Proteins. 2006 Jan 1;62(1):144-51. PMCID: PMC2792008

The crystal structure of RhoA in complex with the DH/PH fragment of PDZRhoGEF, an activator of the Ca(2+) sensitization pathway in smooth muscle. Derewenda U, Oleksy A, Stevenson AS, Korczynska J, Dauter Z, Somlyo AP, Otlewski J, Somlyo AV, Derewenda ZS. Structure. 2004 Nov;12(11):1955-65. PMID:15530360

The crystal structure of the reduced, Zn2+-bound form of the B. subtilis Hsp33 chaperone and its implications for the activation mechanism. Janda I, Devedjiev Y, Derewenda U, Dauter Z, Bielnicki J, Cooper DR, Graf PC, Joachimiak A, Jakob U, Derewenda ZS. Structure. 2004 Oct;12(10):1901-7. PMID:15458638

The structure and ligand binding properties of the B. subtilis YkoF gene product, a member of a novel family of thiamin/HMP-binding proteins. Devedjiev Y, Surendranath Y, Derewenda U, Gabrys A, Cooper DR, Zhang RG, Lezondra L, Joachimiak A, Derewenda ZS. J Mol Biol. 2004 Oct 15;343(2):395-406.PMCID: PMC2792028

The structure of the N-terminal domain of the product of the lissencephaly gene Lis1 and its functional implications. Kim MH, Cooper DR, Oleksy A, Devedjiev Y, Derewenda U, Reiner O, Otlewski J, Derewenda ZS.Structure. 2004 Jun;12(6):987-98. PMID: 15274919

Harvesting the high-hanging fruit: the structure of the YdeN gene product from Bacillus subtilis at 1.8 angstroms resolution. Janda I, Devedjiev Y, Cooper D, Chruszcz M, Derewenda U, Gabrys A, Minor W, Joachimiak A, Derewenda ZS. Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr. 2004 Jun;60(Pt 6):1101-7. Epub 2004 May 21. PMCID: PMC2792027

The PDZ2 domain of syntenin at ultra-high resolution: bridging the gap between macromolecular and small molecule crystallography. Kang BS, Devedjiev Y, Derewenda U, Derewenda ZS. J Mol Biol. 2004 Apr 30;338(3):483-93. Erratum in: J Mol Biol. 2004 Jun 25;340(1):191. PMID: 15081807

Preliminary crystallographic analysis of the complex of the human GTPase RhoA with the DH/PH tandem of PDZ-RhoGEF. Oleksy A, Barton H, Devedjiev Y, Purdy M, Derewenda U, Otlewski J, Derewenda ZS. Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr. 2004 Apr;60(Pt 4):740-2. Epub 2004 Mar 23. PMID: 15039571

The structure of Yersinia pestis V-antigen, an essential virulence factor and mediator of immunity against plague. Derewenda U, Mateja A, Devedjiev Y, Routzahn KM, Evdokimov AG, Derewenda ZS, Waugh DS. Structure. 2004 Feb;12(2):301-6. PMID:14962390

The impact of Lys-->Arg surface mutations on the crystallization of the globular domain of RhoGDI. Czepas J, Devedjiev Y, Krowarsch D, Derewenda U, Otlewski J, Derewenda ZS. Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr. 2004 Feb;60(Pt 2):275-80. Epub 2004 Jan 23. PMID: 14747703

Molecular roots of degenerate specificity in syntenin's PDZ2 domain: reassessment of the PDZ recognition paradigm. Kang BS, Cooper DR, Devedjiev Y, Derewenda U, Derewenda ZS. Structure. 2003 Jul;11(7):845-53. PMID: 12842047

The DCX-domain tandems of doublecortin and doublecortin-like kinase. Kim MH, Cierpicki T, Derewenda U, Krowarsch D, Feng Y, Devedjiev Y, Dauter Z, Walsh CA, Otlewski J, Bushweller JH, Derewenda ZS. Nat Struct Biol. 2003 May;10(5):324-33. PMID:12692530

PDZ tandem of human syntenin: crystal structure and functional properties. Kang BS, Cooper DR, Jelen F, Devedjiev Y, Derewenda U, Dauter Z, Otlewski J, Derewenda ZS. Structure. 2003 Apr;11(4):459-68. PMID: 12679023

Purification and crystallization of the N-terminal domain from the human doublecortin-like kinase. Kim MH, Derewenda U, Devedjiev Y, Dauter Z, Derewenda ZS. Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr. 2003 Mar;59(Pt 3):502-5. Epub 2003 Feb 21. PMID:12595708

Molecular basis of mitomycin C resistance in streptomyces: structure and function of the MRD protein. Martin TW, Dauter Z, Devedjiev Y, Sheffield P, Jelen F, He M, Sherman DH, Otlewski J, Derewenda ZS, Derewenda U. Structure. 2002 Jul;10(7):933-42. PMID: 12121648

The crystal structure of a major dust mite allergen Der p 2, and its biological implications. Derewenda U, Li J, Derewenda Z, Dauter Z, Mueller GA, Rule GS, Benjamin DC. J Mol Biol. 2002 Apr 19;318(1):189-97. PMID: 12054778

The structure of the FERM domain of merlin, the neurofibromatosis type 2 gene product. Kang BS, Cooper DR, Devedjiev Y, Derewenda U, Derewenda ZS. Acta Crystallogr D Biol Crystallogr. 2002 Mar;58(Pt 3):381-91. Epub 2002 Feb 21. PMID:11856822

Preparation and crystal structure of the recombinant alpha(1)/alpha(2) catalytic heterodimer of bovine brain platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolase Ib. Sheffield PJ, McMullen TW, Li J, Ho YS, Garrard SM, Derewenda U, Derewenda ZS. Protein Eng. 2001 Jul;14(7):513-9. PMID:11522926

Structure of the BH domain from graf and its implications for Rho GTPase recognition. Longenecker KL, Zhang B, Derewenda U, Sheffield PJ, Dauter Z, Parsons JT, Zheng Y, Derewenda ZS. J Biol Chem. 2000 Dec 8;275(49):38605-10. PMID: 10982819

Substrate specificity in glycoside hydrolase family 10. Structural and kinetic analysis of the Streptomyces lividans xylanase 10A. Ducros V, Charnock SJ, Derewenda U, Derewenda ZS, Dauter Z, Dupont C, Shareck F, Morosoli R, Kluepfel D, Davies GJ. J Biol Chem. 2000 Jul 28;275(30):23020-6. PMID:10930426

Crystal structure of the Escherichia coli thioesterase II, a homolog of the human Nef binding enzyme. Li J, Derewenda U, Dauter Z, Smith S, Derewenda ZS. Nat Struct Biol. 2000 Jul;7(7):555-9. PMID:10876240

Homologs of the alpha- and beta-subunits of mammalian brain platelet-activating factor acetylhydrolase Ib in the Drosophila melanogaster genome. Sheffield PJ, Garrard S, Caspi M, Aoki J, Arai H, Derewenda U, Inoue K, Suter B, Reiner O, Derewenda ZS. Proteins. 2000 Apr 1;39(1):1-8. PMID:1073792