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Walter Schmidt

Blurred image of the arch used as background for stylistic purposes.
Professor & Associate Head of Department
Georgia Cancer Coalition Scholar

Our lab uses a variety of technical approaches to better understand how post-translational modifications regulate the function of CaaX-type proteins. These proteins are subject to an ordered series of C-terminal modifications: isoprenylation, proteolysis, and carboxylmethylation. Prominent examples of CaaX proteins can be found among the Ras family of oncoproteins that are often mutated in cancer.

Standard v. Shunt Pathway: We recently discovered that certain CaaX proteins follow an isoprenylation-only branch of the standard modification pathway that we refer to as the shunt pathway. Pathway preference appears linked to optimal CaaX protein function. We are determining the pathway followed by various CaaX protein reporters and detailing the consequences of altering their modification preference. These consequences range from altered protein activity, to differential localization, to changes in cellular phenotypes.

The CaaX Proteases: Rce1p and Ste24p are ER membrane-localized proteases. Our research centers on their proteolytic mechanisms, substrate profiles, and biological roles in the cell. We expect to gain a better understanding of their function as gatekeepers for CaaX protein modificaiton via the standard pathway and their utility as targets for disease therapy (e.g. cancer treatment).

The M16A Proteases: Ste23p and Axl1p are zinc-dependent metalloproteases that are part of the M16A subfamily of metalloproteases. They are related to the insulin-degrading enzyme (IDE) that has a proposed protective function in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Our research on Ste23p and Axl1p is designed is to gain a better understanding of the largely uncharacterized M16 metalloprotease family as a whole, thus potentially providing novel insight into new methods for the treatment of AD and possibly other diseases.

The RAS InitiativeWant to learn more about Ras and therapeutic approaches aimed at interfering with Ras biology? The National Cancer Institute recently launched a national campaign to develop resources and new knowledge about Ras biology.

  • PostDoc: Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 2001
  • PhD:  University of California (Berkeley), Ph.D., 1995
  • Undergraduate:  Rice University, B.A., 1989
  • Highschool:  Weslaco High School, 1985
Selected Publications:
Courses Regularly Taught:

2016-20 National Institutes of Health R01 (R01 GM117148) - Role of proteolysis in regulating CaaX protein function.

2019-24 National Institutes of Health R01 (R01 GM132606) - Determining the scope of prenylatable protein sequences.

Articles Featuring Walter Schmidt

Walter Schmidt was awarded the 2021 Undergraduate Research Mentoring Award, which recognizes outstanding efforts to involve undergraduate students in research.

Congratulations to Aarya Venkat (Kannan Lab) for winning the People’s Choice Award at the 3 MT Thesis competition! If you missed the competition, visit the Graduate School’s website (…

Congratulations to Valery Prada for securing a 2020 Hispanic Scholarship Fund award in recognition of her academic excellence! Valery is an undergraduate researcher in the laboratory of Professor Walter…

Congratulations to Anushka Sarkar (Schmidt lab) for receiving the Mary Loraine Young Hines 1968 Graduate Fellowship in Cancer Research for 2020!  This award will be used to support her studies on the…

June Kim, a graduate student working in the lab of Walter Schmidt, received the Hamilton Lokey Graduate Scholarship. The purpose of this scholarship is to recognize outstanding University of Georgia undergraduate students who wish to continue their educational…

In ArchNews this week and in the heart of Honors Week, President Jere Morehead recognized UGA's best and brightest students, "for students are central to the mission of the University of Georgia." Out of these students, three students…

On October 3 2019, BMB was honored to receive the Graduate School’s Alumni of Distinction Award on behalf of Dr. Marion Bradford, who was unable to attend in person. Dr. Bradford was a graduate student when he published his now famous protein assay…

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