Professor Brian Zoltowski


Associate Professor  Office: 307 Fondren Science
Department of Chemistry Phone: (214) 768-2640
Southern Methodist University Fax: (214) 768-4089
PO Box 750314 e-mail: bzoltowski at smu dot edu
Dallas, TX 75275-0314    

Research Group Site

Education and Experience:

  • Associate Professor, Southern Methodist University, 2017-
  • Assistant Professor, Southern Methodist University, 2011-2017
  • Postdoc, UT Southwestern Medical Center, 2008-2011
  • Ph.D. Cornell University, 2008
  • B.S./M.S. University of Southern Mississippi, 2003


  • Ron Konopka Memorial Junior Faculty Award for Outstanding Research in Circadian Biology, 2017
  • NSF Research Grant, 2016
  • SMU Rotunda Outstanding Professor of the Year, 2015
  • NIH R15, 2014
  • Herman Frasch Foundation, 2012

Research Interests:

Biophysical, Biochemistry, Circadian Clock

The Zoltowski lab works at the interface of Chemistry, Biology, and Physics, where we study the molecular mechanisms of blue-light photoreceptors. These photoreceptors are intricately involved in regulation of circadian clocks, growth and development in plants, and have been implicated in the development of cancer, diabetes, as well as neurological illnesses. We use a combination of X-ray crystallography, NMR, and solution biophysics to identify the fundamental chemical mechanisms of photo-activation, including local chemical events, alteration in protein structure, and alteration in protein:protein interactions. Detailed understanding of photoreceptor structure and function allows for repurposing of enzymes as engineered photoresponsive proteins in the rapidly developing field of optogenetics.

Selected Publications:
  1. Pudasaini, Ashutosh, Shim, Jae-Sung, Song, Young-hun, Shi, Hua, Somers, David E., Imaizumi, Takato, Zoltowski, Brian D., “Kinetics of the LOV domain of ZEITLUPE determine its circadian function in Arabidopsis” eLife20176, e21646. doi:10.7554/eLife.21646.
  2. Zhou, Hongyu, Zoltowski, Brian D., Tao, Peng, “Revealing Hidden Conformational Space of LOV Protein VIVID Through Rigid Residue Scan Simulations” Scientific Reports 2017, 7. doi:10.1038/srep46626.
  3. Lokhandwala, Jameela, Silverman y de la Vega, Rafael, I., Hopkins, Hilary, C. Britton, Collin S.,  Rodriguez-Iglesias, Aroa, Bogomolni, Roberto, Schmoll, Monika, Zoltowski, Brian D., “A Native Threonine Coordinates Ordered Water to Tune LOV and Osmotic Stress Signaling in Trichoderma Reesei ENVOY” J. Biol. Chem. 2016, 291, 14839-14850. 
  4. Taslimi, Amir, Zoltowski, Brian D., Miranda, Jose G., Pathak, Gopal, Hughes, Robert M., Tucker, Chandra L., “Optimized second generation CRY2/CIB optical dimerizers and photoactivatable Cre recombinase” Nat. Chem. Biol. 2016, 12, 425–430. doi:10.1038/nchembio.2063
  5. Zoltowski, Brian D., “Resolving cryptic aspects of Cryptochrome signaling.” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 2015, 112, 8811-8812. doi:10.1073/pnas.1511092112
  6. Pudasaini, Ashutosh, El-Arab, Kaley K., Zoltowski, Brian D., “LOV-Based Optogenetic Devices: Light-Driven Modules to Impart Photoregulated Control of Cellular Signaling.” Front. Mol. Biosci. 2015, 2, 18.
  7. Lokhandwala, Jameela, Hopkins, Hilary C., Rodriquez-Iglesias, Aroa, Dattenboeck, Christoph, Schmoll, Monika, Zoltowski, Brian D., “Structural Biochemistry of a Fungal LOV Domain Photoreceptor Reveals an Evolutionarily Conserved Pathway Integrating Blue-Light and Oxidative Stress” Structure, 2015, 1, 116-125. doi:  10.1016/j.str.2014.10.020.
  8. El-Arab, Kaley K., Pudasaini, Ashutosh, Zoltowski, Brian D., “Short LOV Proteins in Methylocystis Reveal Insight into LOV Domain Photocycle Mechanisms.” PLoS one 201510, e0124874.
  9. Pudasaini, Ashutosh, Zoltowski, Brian D., “Zeitlupe senses blue-light fluence to mediate circadian timing in Arabidopsis thaliana” Biochemistry, 2013, 52, 7150-7158. doi: 10.1021/bi401027n.
  10. Levy, Colin, Zoltowski, Brian D., Jones, Alex R., Vaidya, Anand T., Top, Deniz, Widom, Joanne, Young, Michael W., Scrutton, Nigel S., Crane, Brian R., Lyes, David, “Updated structure of Drosophila cryptochrome,” Nature, 2013, 495, E3–E4, doi: 10.1038/nature11995.
  11. Zoltowski, Brian D., Vaidya, Anand T., Top, Deniz, Widom, Joanne, Young, Michael W., Crane, Brian R., “Structure of Full-length Drosophila Cryptochrome,” Nature, 2011, 480, 396-399. doi:10.1038/nature10618