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Daniel Webster Ph.D.

Associate Professor


I was born and raised a Hoosier (i.e., in Indiana)and attended DePauw University (a small liberal arts school), where I majored in freshwater ecology/population biology. Intending to become a marine biologist, I sent applications for graduate school to places like the University of Miami, where I was eventually accepted, but in the Department of Cell Biology and Anatomy instead of Marine Biology! To bridge the gap between the two disciplines, my dissertation project was to determine the role of the cytoskeleton in the gliding motility of a marine diatom, Amphora coffeaeformis. Eventually, I went on to do two post-docs, one at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and one at Columbia University in NYC, where my emphasis was on the regulation of microtubule function by posttranslational modification. At Texas Tech, I have not only continued long-standing research pursuits but have also developed a rigorous graduate-level course in Cell Biology. Other teaching duties have included Cell Biology and Histology for 1st-year medical students and other “cameo” appearances in other courses. Outside interests include music (jazz, classical, rock) and sports.

Research Interests

Current work in the lab involves understanding how microtubule (MT) function is regulated and specified by the posttranslation modification of individual subunits. MTs exist within all eukaryotic cells and perform many functions vital for cell survival and differentiation. A long-standing question is how these varied functions are achieved if every MT is composed of the same tubulin building blocks. In other words, how can some MTs be specified to perform one function while other MTs are directed to perform another? One possibility is that the subunits within some MTs are altered biochemically by different enzyme activities, which then make them recognizable to various binding proteins. One such activity is that of tubulin carboxypeptidase, which removes the C-terminal tyrosine from alpha tubulin. Therefore, my lab has two main goals at present. First, I am continuing an attempt to clone the gene for the MT-modifying enzyme tubulin carboxypeptidase, in order to prepare specific, antagonistic reagents against it. Second, I am discerning the role of detyrosinated (Glu) MTs in specific developmental sequelae, including both skeletal and cardiac muscle development, as well as the role of MT subsets in cancer cell function, including differential sensitivity to MT-specific drugs such as paclitaxel and vincristine.

Recent Publications

  • Webster, D.R. and Bratcher, J.M. (2006): Developmental Regulation of Cardiac MAP4 Protein Expression. Submitted to Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton.
  • Webster, D.R. (2004): Tubulinyl-Tyr Carboxypeptidase. In Handbook of Proteolytic Enzymes, 2nd edition. A.J. Barrett, N.D. Rawlings, and J.F. Woessner, Jr., editors. Academic Press Ltd., London.
  • Webster, D.R. (2002): Microtubules in Cardiac Toxicity and Disease. (Review) Cardiovascular Toxicology 2(2):75-89.
  • Dickson C., Webster, D.R., Johnson, H., Millena, A.C., and Khan, S.A. (2002): Transforming Growth Factor-β effects on morphology of immature rat Leydig cells. Mol. Cell. Endocrinol. 195:65-77.
  • Chang, W., Webster, D.R., Salam, A.A., Gruber, D., Prasad, A., Eiserich, J.P., and Bulinski, J.C. (2002): Alteration of the C-terminal amino acid of tubulin specifically inhibits myogenic differentiation. J. Biol. Chem. 277(34):30690-30698.
  • Arutunyan, A., Webster, D.R. Swift, L.M., , and Sarvazyan, N. (2001): Localized injury in cardiomyocyte network: A new experimental model of ischemia-reperfusion arrhythmias. Am. J. Physiol. (Ht. Circ. Physiol.) 280:H1905-H1915.
  • Webster, D.R. and Patrick, D.L. (2000): Beating rate of isolated neonatal cardiomyocytes is regulated by the stable microtubule subset. Am. J. of Physiol. (Ht. Circ. Physiol.) 47:H1653-H1661.
  • Webster, D.R. (1997): Neonatal rat cardiomyocytes possess a large population of stable microtubules that is enriched in posttranslationally modified subunits. J. Mol. Cell. Cardiol. 29:2813-2824.
  • Webster, D.R. (1997): Regulation of posttranslationally modified microtubule populations during neonatal cardiac development. J. Mol. Cell. Cardiol. 29:1747-1761.
  • Webster, D.R. and Oxford, M.G. (1996): Regulation of cytoplasmic tubulin carboxypeptidase activity in vitro by cations and sulfhydryl-modifying compounds.. J. Cell. Biochem. 60(3):424-436.