Dr. Alex Gingras

Dr. Alexandre R. Gingras was trained as a biochemist and protein structural biologist (X-ray crystallography and NMR) before becoming an Assistant Professor of Medicine at UC San Diego.  His studies have determined the three-dimensional structure of multiple protein-protein complexes to better understand how they interact with each others and how mutations are involved in the development of certain diseases.  Dr. Gingras is a member of the American Heart Association (AHA), Clinical and Translational research Institute (CTRI) and the North American Vascular Biology Organization (NAVBO).


About the Lab

Dr. Gingras's current research falls
into two distinct but overlapping areas of cell adhesion: i) cell-extracellular matrix interactions, and ii) cell-cell interactions.

The first focus is to understand the structure, function and dynamics of talin dependent integrin activation. They solved the structures of all 18 domains of talin and complexes with binding partners. Together they show that talin has evolved to regulate integrin activity, it couples the integrins to cytoskeletal actin and acts as a mechanosensitive protein.

A second focus is to determine the molecular basis of Cerebral Cavernous Malformations (CCMs), an autosomal dominant disorder affecting 1:200 people that arises from a weakening of endothelial cell junctions. They used structural and biochemical approaches to investigate the interaction between CCM proteins (CCM1-3) and the heart of Glass (HEG1) transmembrane protein, which form part of a multi-protein complex localized at endothelial cell-cell junctions. 




Research Highlights

Recent Publications
  • Structural Basis of Dimeric Rasip1 RA Domain Recognition of the Ras Subfamily of GTP-Binding Proteins. Gingras and coworkers, Structure (2016).
  • Heart of glass anchors Rasip1 at endothelial cell-cell junctions to support vascular integrity. Gingras and coworkers, eLife (2016).
  • Structural basis of the junctional anchorage of the cerebral cavernous malformations complex. Gingras and coworkers, The Journal of cell biology (2012).
    Recent Grant Support
    • American Heart Association (AHA) Scientist Development Grant.
    • Clinical and Translational Research Institute (CTRI) - Innovative Technology Pilot Grant.
    • American Heart Association (AHA) Grant-In-Aid.
    • UCSD Academic Senate Research Award.