Simon Scheuring, Ph.D.

Professor of Physiology and Biophysics

  • Professor of Physiology and Biophysics in Anesthesiology (primary appointment)


1300 York Avenue, Room E-023
New York, NY 10065


Research Areas

Research Summary:

One of the key characteristics of life is the existence of a boundary that delineates the organism from its outer environment. The boundary membrane structure that defines all cells is called the plasma membrane. In eukaryotic cells, membranes also divide the internal space into discrete compartments, organelles, to segregate processes and components. The lipid membrane bilayer serves also as a matrix for a multitude of membrane proteins. The membrane proteins are known to be key molecules for plenty vital cellular functions: transport, energy transduction, signaling, and communication, to name a few. The functional importance of membrane proteins explains why a lot of pathologies are related to disorders at the membrane protein level. Notably ~60% of nowadays drugs target membrane proteins, underlining the medical importance of this class of proteins. Therefore, studies of disorders at the level of membrane proteins and their organisation within the membrane are essential to provide novel strategies for the effective treatment of illness.

At present about 300 unique membrane protein structures have been solved. The difficulty for membrane protein crystallisation is hidden in the amphiphilic nature of these molecules, however technical problems are being overcome by modern crystallisation methods, as visible from the exponential increase of solved structures. Therefore, in future studies the focus shall be shifted onto interaction dynamics, conformational changes and supramolecular complexes of membrane proteins. The final goal being to acquire a dynamic and integrated view of the native bio-membrane. These objectives demand the performance of imaging the membrane at high spatio-temporal resolution, at a high signal-to-noise ratio, in a native-like environment. Unfortunately, to date, this seems impossible…

The atomic force microscope (AFM) fulfils many of the above-mentioned criteria. In particular, the recent development of high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) allows now individual molecules to be imaged dynamically in physiological environment. AFM can also be operated in force spectroscopy mode and analyse the physics of the interactions between and within proteins in great detail.

Hence, it is our aim to overcome AFM-related technical and biological bottlenecks to provide first high-resolution dynamic views of complex protein samples, and of membranes extracted from cells and on cells in particular. On the way to there, we aim at gathering a deeper understanding of the structure, conformational changes, the dynamics and interactions within and between protein complexes to get insights into the driving forces that are responsible of higher order organisation and the processes in live cells.

Recent Publications:

  1. Tagiltsev, G, Haselwandter, CA, Scheuring, S. Nanodissected elastically loaded clathrin lattices relax to increased curvature. Sci Adv. 2021;7 (33):. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abg9934. PubMed PMID:34389539 PubMed Central PMC8363152.
  2. Sanganna Gari, RR, Montalvo-Acosta, JJ, Heath, GR, Jiang, Y, Gao, X, Nimigean, CM et al.. Correlation of membrane protein conformational and functional dynamics. Nat Commun. 2021;12 (1):4363. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-24660-1. PubMed PMID:34272395 PubMed Central PMC8285522.
  3. Heath, GR, Kots, E, Robertson, JL, Lansky, S, Khelashvili, G, Weinstein, H et al.. Localization atomic force microscopy. Nature. 2021;594 (7863):385-390. doi: 10.1038/s41586-021-03551-x. PubMed PMID:34135520 .
  4. Fraser, A, Prokhorov, NS, Jiao, F, Pettitt, BM, Scheuring, S, Leiman, PG et al.. Quantitative description of a contractile macromolecular machine. Sci Adv. 2021;7 (24):. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.abf9601. PubMed PMID:34117062 PubMed Central PMC8195476.
  5. Heath, GR, Lin, YC, Matin, TR, Scheuring, S. Structural dynamics of channels and transporters by high-speed atomic force microscopy. Methods Enzymol. 2021;652 :127-159. doi: 10.1016/bs.mie.2021.03.011. PubMed PMID:34059280 .
  6. Jiao, F, Ruan, Y, Scheuring, S. High-speed atomic force microscopy to study pore-forming proteins. Methods Enzymol. 2021;649 :189-217. doi: 10.1016/bs.mie.2021.01.033. PubMed PMID:33712187 .
  7. Scheuring, S. High-speed atomic force microscopy tracks the dynamic parts of the ribosome. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021;118 (4):. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2024413118. PubMed PMID:33431655 PubMed Central PMC7848468.
  8. Yaari, Z, Cheung, JM, Baker, HA, Frederiksen, RS, Jena, PV, Horoszko, CP et al.. Nanoreporter of an Enzymatic Suicide Inactivation Pathway. Nano Lett. 2020;20 (11):7819-7827. doi: 10.1021/acs.nanolett.0c01858. PubMed PMID:33119310 PubMed Central PMC8177003.
  9. Jiao, F, Cannon, KS, Lin, YC, Gladfelter, AS, Scheuring, S. The hierarchical assembly of septins revealed by high-speed AFM. Nat Commun. 2020;11 (1):5062. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-18778-x. PubMed PMID:33033254 PubMed Central PMC7545167.
  10. Matin, TR, Heath, GR, Huysmans, GHM, Boudker, O, Scheuring, S. Millisecond dynamics of an unlabeled amino acid transporter. Nat Commun. 2020;11 (1):5016. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-18811-z. PubMed PMID:33024106 PubMed Central PMC7538599.
  11. Ni, T, Jiao, F, Yu, X, Aden, S, Ginger, L, Williams, SI et al.. Structure and mechanism of bactericidal mammalian perforin-2, an ancient agent of innate immunity. Sci Adv. 2020;6 (5):eaax8286. doi: 10.1126/sciadv.aax8286. PubMed PMID:32064340 PubMed Central PMC6989145.
  12. Lin, YC, Chipot, C, Scheuring, S. Annexin-V stabilizes membrane defects by inducing lipid phase transition. Nat Commun. 2020;11 (1):230. doi: 10.1038/s41467-019-14045-w. PubMed PMID:31932647 PubMed Central PMC6957514.
  13. Rangl, M, Schmandt, N, Perozo, E, Scheuring, S. Real time dynamics of Gating-Related conformational changes in CorA. Elife. 2019;8 :. doi: 10.7554/eLife.47322. PubMed PMID:31774394 PubMed Central PMC6927688.
  14. Lin, YC, Guo, YR, Miyagi, A, Levring, J, MacKinnon, R, Scheuring, S et al.. Force-induced conformational changes in PIEZO1. Nature. 2019;573 (7773):230-234. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1499-2. PubMed PMID:31435018 PubMed Central PMC7258172.
  15. Rico, F, Russek, A, González, L, Grubmüller, H, Scheuring, S. Heterogeneous and rate-dependent streptavidin-biotin unbinding revealed by high-speed force spectroscopy and atomistic simulations. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2019;116 (14):6594-6601. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1816909116. PubMed PMID:30890636 PubMed Central PMC6452689.
  16. Heath, GR, Scheuring, S. Advances in high-speed atomic force microscopy (HS-AFM) reveal dynamics of transmembrane channels and transporters. Curr Opin Struct Biol. 2019;57 :93-102. doi: 10.1016/ PubMed PMID:30878714 PubMed Central PMC7216758.
  17. Pellequer, JL, Parot, P, Navajas, D, Kumar, S, Svetličić, V, Scheuring, S et al.. Fifteen years of Servitude et Grandeur to the application of a biophysical technique in medicine: The tale of AFMBioMed. J Mol Recognit. 2019;32 (3):e2773. doi: 10.1002/jmr.2773. PubMed PMID:30565321 .
  18. Heath, GR, Scheuring, S. High-speed AFM height spectroscopy reveals µs-dynamics of unlabeled biomolecules. Nat Commun. 2018;9 (1):4983. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-07512-3. PubMed PMID:30478320 PubMed Central PMC6255864.
  19. Marchesi, A, Gao, X, Adaixo, R, Rheinberger, J, Stahlberg, H, Nimigean, C et al.. An iris diaphragm mechanism to gate a cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channel. Nat Commun. 2018;9 (1):3978. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06414-8. PubMed PMID:30266906 PubMed Central PMC6162275.
  20. Miyagi, A, Scheuring, S. A novel phase-shift-based amplitude detector for a high-speed atomic force microscope. Rev Sci Instrum. 2018;89 (8):083704. doi: 10.1063/1.5038095. PubMed PMID:30184715 .
Search PubMed