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Kevin H. Gardner

Director, CUNY ASRC Structural Biology Initiative 
Einstein Professor of Chemistry

PhD Yale University (1995)

Structural Biology, Biophysics, NMR Spectroscopy

Environmental cues regulate many biological processes, controlling pathways used by cells to respond to 

changing conditions. Such regulation often utilizes natural allosteric “switches” in the form of protein 

domains that use internally-bound ligands to convert environmentally-triggered changes into altered 
interactions with other signaling partners. Several families of these domains have evolved with 

remarkable diversity in the stimuli they sense and outputs that they control. Using the unparalleled 

flexibility of NMR spectroscopy coupled with other biophysical, biochemical and chemical approaches, 

the Gardner laboratory studies the sensory mechanisms of such domains – obtaining insights into their 

natural control and laying the foundations for applications where artificial triggers can be applied. 
Recent work within the group has focused on classes of Per-ARNT-Sim (PAS) domain proteins, ranging 

from bacterial blue light photosensors to mammalian hypoxia sensors. While these systems control 

diverse biology in different settings, they share common signaling mechanisms triggered by small 

organic cofactors and ligands. Mechanistic findings from these studies have both advanced our 

understanding of biochemical regulation and established both protein- and small molecule-based tools 

for basic research and applied uses.

Selected Publications

• Motta-Mena LB, Reade A, Mallory MJ, Glantz S, Weiner OD, Lynch KW and Gardner, KH 

(2014). An optogenetic gene expression system with rapid activation and deactivation kinetics. 

Nature Chem. Biol. 10, 196-202.

• Zoltowski BD, Motta-Mena, LB and Gardner KH (2013). Blue-light induced dimerization of a

bacterial LOV-HTH DNA-binding protein. Biochemistry 52, 6653-6661.

•Scheuermann TH, Li Q, Ma H-W, Key J, Zhang L, Chen R, Garcia JA, Naidoo J, Longgood J, 

Frantz DE, Tambar, U.K., Gardner, K.H. and Bruick, R.K. (2013). Allosteric inhibition of
hypoxia inducible factor-2 with small molecules. Nature Chem. Biol. 9, 271-276.

• Guo Y, Partch CL, Key J, Card PB, Pashkov V, Patel A, Bruick RK, Wurdak H and Gardner, 

K.H. (2013). Regulating the ARNT/TACC3 axis: Multiple approaches to manipulating

protein/protein interactions with small molecules. ACS Chemical Biology 8: 626-635.

• Nash AI, McNulty R, Shillito ME, Swartz TE, Bogomolni RA, Luecke H and Gardner KH 

(2011). Structural basis of photosensitivity in a bacterial light-oxygen-voltage/helix-turn-helix

(LOV-HTH) DNA-binding protein. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 108: 9449-9454.

•Partch, C.L. and Gardner, K.H. (2011) Coactivators necessary for transcriptional output of the 

hypoxia inducible factor, HIF, are directly recruited by ARNT PAS-B. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci.
USA, 108: 7739-7744.

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