Robert Renthal
Robert D. Renthal, Ph.D.

Phone: (210) 458-5452
Email: Robert.Renthal@utsa.edu

Lab website (Biology)
Lab website (STCEID)

Areas of Specialization
  • biochemistry and biophysics of cell membranes
  • insect chemical communication
  • lanthanide tags in live bacterial cells

South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases
UTSA Neurosciences Institute


Ph.D. in Biochemistry; Columbia University
A.B. in Chemistry; Princeton University

Research Interests

Research in Dr. Renthal’s lab is focused on the following areas:

  1. Biochemistry and biophysics of cell membranes - What are the biophysical mechanisms of folding and oligomerization of membrane-embedded proteins? How do oligomeric channels form in membranes?
  2. Chemical communication by insects and ticks - How do ant colonies establish and maintain interaction networks? What semiochemicals and chemoreception-related proteins are involved in mate and host identification by tick and fly vectors of human diseases?
  3. Lanthanide-tagged proteins - The coding sequence for a small 17-amino acid loop that binds lanthanide ions can be fused to any protein-coding gene to tag bacterial proteins in live cells. Proteins modified with lanthanide-binding tags can be used to measure cytoplasmic diffusion and probe the dynamics of cytoplasmic substructures in live bacterial cells.

Training Opportunities

Membrane protein folding is studied by fluorescence spectroscopy and mass spectrometry. Membrane protein oligomerization is measured by fluorescence resonance energy transfer using artificial membrane patches known as nanodiscs. Cuticular lipids and sensory appendage proteins are analyzed by high performance liquid chromatography coupled to a high resolution tandem mass spectrometer. Individual glands and sensory appendages are examined by imaging mass spectrometry. Functions of chemoreception-related proteins are studied by fluorescence spectroscopy. A luminescence microscope is being developed to detect diffusion of lanthanide-tagged proteins in live bacterial cells.


Click here for a list of publications.