Avril V. Somlyo


Primary Appointment

Professor, Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics


  • MSc, Pathology, University of Saskatchewan, Canada
  • PhD, Physiology, University of Pennsylvania, PA

Research Disciplines

Biophysics, Cardiovascular Biology, Physiology

Personal Statement

The study of smooth muscle, with its diversity of multiple signaling pathways that regulate and fine-tune the contractile apparatus in smooth muscle has been a fascinating focus for my laboratory for many years. Apart from the intellectual rewards of understanding basic mechanisms, this interest is driven by the physiological importance of smooth muscle (SM) both under normal conditions and in diseases, such as hypertension, stroke, asthma, urinary incontinence and motility disorders of the gastrointestinal tract and by the possibility of identifying better targets for therapies.


  • Basic Cardiovascular Research Training Grant

Selected Publications

Lakshmikanthan S, Zieba BJ, Ge ZD, Momotani K, Zheng X, Lund H, Artamonov MV, Maas JE, Szabo A, Zhang DX, Auchampach JA, Mattson DL, Somlyo AV, Chrzanowska-Wodnicka M, Rap1b in smooth muscle and endothelium is required for maintenance of vascular tone and normal blood pressure., 2014; Arteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology. 34(7) 1486-94. PMID: 24790136

Artamonov M, Momotani K, Utepbergenov D, Franke A, Khromov A, Derewenda ZS, Somlyo AV, The p90 ribosomal S6 kinase (RSK) is a mediator of smooth muscle contractility., 2013; PloS one. 8(3) e58703. PMID: 23516539 | PMCID: PMC3596281

Khromov AS, Momotani K, Jin L, Artamonov MV, Shannon J, Eto M, Somlyo AV, Molecular mechanism of telokin-mediated disinhibition of myosin light chain phosphatase and cAMP/cGMP-induced relaxation of gastrointestinal smooth muscle., 2012; The Journal of biological chemistry. 287(25) 20975-85. PMID: 22544752 | PMCID: PMC3375521

Momotani K, Somlyo AV, p63RhoGEF: A New Switch for G(q)-Mediated Activation of Smooth Muscle., 2012; Trends in cardiovascular medicine. 22(5) 122-7. PMID: 22902181 | PMCID: PMC3472095

Hoofnagle MH, Neppl RL, Berzin EL, Teg Pipes GC, Olson EN, Wamhoff BW, Somlyo AV, Owens GK, Myocardin is differentially required for the development of smooth muscle cells and cardiomyocytes., 2011; American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology. 300(5) H1707-21. PMID: 21357509 | PMCID: PMC3094091

Zieba BJ, Artamonov MV, Jin L, Momotani K, Ho R, Franke AS, Neppl RL, Stevenson AS, Khromov AS, Chrzanowska-Wodnicka M, Somlyo AV, The cAMP-responsive Rap1 guanine nucleotide exchange factor, Epac, induces smooth muscle relaxation by down-regulation of RhoA activity., 2011; The Journal of biological chemistry. 286(19) 16681-92. PMID: 21454546 | PMCID: PMC3089510

Bielnicki JA, Shkumatov AV, Derewenda U, Somlyo AV, Svergun DI, Derewenda ZS, Insights into the molecular activation mechanism of the RhoA-specific guanine nucleotide exchange factor, PDZRhoGEF., 2011; The Journal of biological chemistry. 286(40) 35163-75. PMID: 21816819 | PMCID: PMC3186380

Momotani K, Artamonov MV, Utepbergenov D, Derewenda U, Derewenda ZS, Somlyo AV, p63RhoGEF couples Gα(q/11)-mediated signaling to Ca2+ sensitization of vascular smooth muscle contractility., 2011; Circulation research. 109(9) 993-1002. PMID: 21885830 | PMCID: PMC3211138

Yoshida T, Gan Q, Franke AS, Ho R, Zhang J, Chen YE, Hayashi M, Majesky MW, Somlyo AV, Owens GK, Smooth and cardiac muscle-selective knock-out of Kruppel-like factor 4 causes postnatal death and growth retardation., 2010; The Journal of biological chemistry. 285(27) 21175-84. PMID: 20439457 | PMCID: PMC2898332

Jin L, Gan Q, Zieba BJ, Goicoechea SM, Owens GK, Otey CA, Somlyo AV, The actin associated protein palladin is important for the early smooth muscle cell differentiation., 2010; PloS one. 5(9) e12823. PMID: 20877641 | PMCID: PMC2943901

Jin L, Hastings NE, Blackman BR, Somlyo AV, Mechanical properties of the extracellular matrix alter expression of smooth muscle protein LPP and its partner palladin; relationship to early atherosclerosis and vascular injury., 2009; Journal of muscle research and cell motility. 30(1) 41-55. PMID: 19205907 | PMCID: PMC2852132

Momotani K, Khromov AS, Miyake T, Stukenberg PT, Somlyo AV, Cep57, a multidomain protein with unique microtubule and centrosomal localization domains., 2008; The Biochemical journal. 412(2) 265-73. PMID: 18294141

Jin L, Yoshida T, Ho R, Owens GK, Somlyo AV, The actin-associated protein Palladin is required for development of normal contractile properties of smooth muscle cells derived from embryoid bodies., 2008; The Journal of biological chemistry. 284(4) 2121-30. PMID: 19015263 | PMCID: PMC2629081

Jin L, Kern MJ, Otey CA, Wamhoff BR, Somlyo AV, Angiotensin II, focal adhesion kinase, and PRX1 enhance smooth muscle expression of lipoma preferred partner and its newly identified binding partner palladin to promote cell migration., 2007; Circulation research. 100(6) 817-25. PMID: 17322171

Feng J, Somlyo AP, Somlyo AV, Shao Z, Automated electron tomography with scanning transmission electron microscopy., 2007; Journal of microscopy. 228(0) 406-12. PMID: 18045335

Khromov AS, Wang H, Choudhury N, McDuffie M, Herring BP, Nakamoto R, Owens GK, Somlyo AP, Somlyo AV, Smooth muscle of telokin-deficient mice exhibits increased sensitivity to Ca2+ and decreased cGMP-induced relaxation., 2006; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 103(7) 2440-5. PMID: 16461919 | PMCID: PMC1413704

Gorenne I, Jin L, Yoshida T, Sanders JM, Sarembock IJ, Owens GK, Somlyo AP, Somlyo AV, LPP expression during in vitro smooth muscle differentiation and stent-induced vascular injury., 2006; Circulation research. 98(3) 378-85. PMID: 16397143

Sinha S, Wamhoff BR, Hoofnagle MH, Thomas J, Neppl RL, Deering T, Helmke BP, Bowles DK, Somlyo AV, Owens GK, Assessment of contractility of purified smooth muscle cells derived from embryonic stem cells., 2006; Stem cells (Dayton, Ohio). 24(7) 1678-88. PMID: 16601077

Derewenda U, Oleksy A, Stevenson AS, Korczynska J, Dauter Z, Somlyo AP, Otlewski J, Somlyo AV, Derewenda ZS, The crystal structure of RhoA in complex with the DH/PH fragment of PDZRhoGEF, an activator of the Ca(2+) sensitization pathway in smooth muscle., 2004; Structure (London, England : 1993). 12(11) 1955-65. PMID: 15530360

Somlyo AP, Somlyo AV, Ca2+ sensitivity of smooth muscle and nonmuscle myosin II: modulated by G proteins, kinases, and myosin phosphatase., 2003; Physiological reviews. 83(4) 1325-58. PMID: 14506307

Wei Y, Zhang Y, Derewenda U, Liu X, Minor W, Nakamoto RK, Somlyo AV, Somlyo AP, Derewenda ZS, Crystal structure of RhoA-GDP and its functional implications., 1997; Nature structural biology. 4(9) 699-703. PMID: 9302995

Gong MC, Iizuka K, Nixon G, Browne JP, Hall A, Eccleston JF, Sugai M, Kobayashi S, Somlyo AV, Somlyo AP, Role of guanine nucleotide-binding proteins--ras-family or trimeric proteins or both--in Ca2+ sensitization of smooth muscle., 1996; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 93(3) 1340-5. PMID: 8577766 | PMCID: PMC40082

Somlyo AP, Somlyo AV, Signal transduction and regulation in smooth muscle., 1994; Nature. 372(6503) 231-6. PMID: 7969467

Somlyo AV, Bond M, Somlyo AP, Scarpa A, Inositol trisphosphate-induced calcium release and contraction in vascular smooth muscle., 1985; Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 82(15) 5231-5. PMID: 2991913 | PMCID: PMC390534

Somlyo AV, Butler TM, Bond M, Somlyo AP, Myosin filaments have non-phosphorylated light chains in relaxed smooth muscle., 1981; Nature. 294(5841) 567-9. PMID: 6895544