Elizabeth Rhoades

Associate Professor of Chemistry


258 Chemistry Building

  • postdoctoral associate with Professor Watt Webb at Cornell University (2003-2006)
  • postdoctoral associate with Professor Gilad Haran at the Weizmann Institute of Science (2001-2003)
  • PhD in Biophysics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (2001)
  • B.S. in Physics from Duke University (1994)
Research Interests

Research in the Rhoades lab aims to elucidate the principles that link protein conformational change with structure-function relationships, focusing on understanding structural plasticity in intrinsically disordered proteins (IDPs). IDPs do not form stable structures under physiological conditions; for many, function is dependent upon disorder. This is in striking contrast to the structure-function paradigm that dominates our understanding of globular proteins. Given the large fraction of the eukaryotic proteome predicted to be disordered, the scope of the problem and the need for new insights are enormous.


Much of our effort is directed towards IDPs whose aggregation is central to the pathology of several degenerative diseases: α-synuclein (Parkinson’s disease), tau (Alzheimer’s disease), and IAPP (Type II Diabetes). These three proteins have diverse native functions and binding partners, but share intriguing commonalities of toxic mechanism and the importance of templated selfassembly. Studying systems in parallel allows us to generate protein and disease-specific insights as well as determine principles relevant to general functional and dysfunctional mechanisms of IDPs.


Our primary approaches center on single molecule optical techniques. These approaches enable quantitative and structural assessments of our systems in isolation and in the context of biologically relevant interactions. Single molecule approaches are unique in their ability to characterize systems which exist and function as a dynamic ensemble of states.

Selected Publications

1.      X.-H. Li, J. A. Culver, and E. Rhoades (2015) “Tau binds to multiple tubulin dimers with helical structure” Journal of the American Chemical Society, 137: 9218-921

2.     A. Nath, D. E. Schlamadinger, E. Rhoades, and A.D. Miranker (2015) “Structure-based small molecule modulation of a pre-amyloid state: pharmacological enhancement of IAPP membrane-binding and toxicity” Biochemistry, 349: 54-58

3.     D. Jülich, G. Cobb,  A.M. Melo, P. McMillen, A. Lawton,  S.G.J. Mochrie, E. Rhoades, and S.A. Holley (2015) “Cross-scale Integrin regulation organizes ECM and tissue topology” Developmental Cell, 34: 33-44

4.     J. LaRochelle, G. Cobb, A. Steinauer, E. Rhoades, and A. Schepartz (2015) “Fluorescence correlation spectroscopy revealsy highly efficient endosomal escape by certain penta-arg proteins and stapled peptides” Journal of the American Chemical Society. 127: 2536-2541 January 2015

5.     S.Kumar, D.E. Schlamadinger, M.A. Brown, J.M. Dunn, B. Mercado, J.A. Hebda, I Saraogi, E. Rhoades, A.D. Hamilton, and A.D. Miranker (2014) “IAPP and the shared molecular origins of leakage and toxicity” Chemistry and Biology, 19: 369-378

6.     A.R. Braun, M.M. Lacy, V.C. Ducas, E. Rhoades, and J.N. Sachs (2014) “α-Synuclein-induced membrane remodeling is driven by binding affinity, partition depth, and interleaflet order asymmetry” Journal of the American Chemical Society, 136: 9962-9972

7.  S. Elbaum-Garfinkle, G. Cobb, J. T. Compton, X. Li and E. Rhoades (2014)“Tau mutants bind tubulin heterodimers with enhanced affinity” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences U.S.A., 111: 6311-6316

8.  D. C. DeWitt and E. Rhoades (2013) “α-Synuclein Inhibits SNARE-mediated Vesicle Fusion Through Direct Interactions with Lipid Bilayer” Biochemistry, 52: 2385-2387

9.  B. R. Capraro, Z. Shi, J.M. Dunn, T. Wu, E. Rhoades, and T. Baumgart (2013) “Kinetics of endophilin N-BAR domain dimerization and membrane interactions” Journal of Biological Chemistry, 288: 12533-12543

10.  S. Elbaum-Garfinkle and E. Rhoades (2012) “Long-Range Interactions Modulate Aggregation of Tau by Altering the Conformational Ensemble” Journal of the American Chemical Society, 134: 16607-16613

11.     A. Nath, M. Sammalkorpi, D. DeWitt, A.J. Trexler, S. Elbaum-Garfinkle, C.S. O’Hern and  E. Rhoades (2012) “The Conformational Ensembles of  α-Synuclein and Tau:  Combining Single-Molecule FRET and Simulations”  Biophysical Journal, 103: 1940-1949

12.     V. Ducas and E. Rhoades (2012) “Quantifying β-Synuclein and g-Synuclein Membrane Interactions”  Journal of Molecular Biology, 423:528-539

13.     A.J. Trexler and E. Rhoades  (2012) “N-terminal acetylation is critical for forming α-helical oligomer of α-Synuclein” Protein Science, 21:601-605  

14.     A.R. Braun, E. Sevcsik, P. Chin, E. Rhoades, S. Tristram-Nagle, and J.N. Sachs (2012) “α-Synuclein Induces Both Positive Mean Curvature and Negative Gaussian Curvature in Membranes” Journal of the American Chemical Society,  134: 2613-2620  

15.     A. Nath, A. D. Miranker, and E. Rhoades (2011) “A Membrane-bound Dimer of Islet Amyloid  Polypeptide Studied by Single-Particle FRET”  Angewandte Chemie, 50: 10859-10862   
16.     N.B. Last, E. Rhoades, and A.D. Miranker (2011) “Islet Amyloid Polypeptide Demonstrates A Persistent Capacity to Disrupt Membrane Integrity” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, U.S.A., 108: 9460-9465   

17.     E. Sevcsik, A.J. Trexler, J.M. Dunn, and E. Rhoades (2011) “Allostery in a disordered protein: Oxidative modifications to α-Synuclein act distally to regulate membrane binding” Journal of the American Chemical Society, 133: 7152-7158  

18.  A.J. Trexler and E. Rhoades (2010) “Single molecule characterization of α-Synuclein in aggregation-prone states” Biophysical Journal, 99: 3048-3055    

19.  E. R. Middleton and E. Rhoades (2010) “Effects of vesicle curvature and composition on α-Synuclein binding to lipid vesicles” Biophysical Journal, 99: 2279-2288  

20.  A . J. Trexler and E. Rhoades (2009) “α-Synuclein binds large unilamellar vesicles as an extended helix”Biochemistry, 48: 2304-2306