Nick Menhart

  • Deputy VP for Accreditation


B.S. University of Waterloo
Ph.D. University of Waterloo

Research Interests

My major research interest concern the use of spectroscopic techniques to study multi-domain proteins. In many cases high resolutions structural data is available for only individual domains of proteins, while their arrangement within the context of the entire molecule is unknown. This arrangement is crucial to the function in certain cases.

One of the systems currently under study, plasminogen, is such a case. This is a key enzyme in the haemostatic system, being responsible for the dissolution of blood clots. Treatments for heart attack and stroke, the first and third leading causes of mortality in affluent societies, involve activating plasminogen to its active form, plasmin. However, plasminogen normally circulates in a compact from that is not easily activated. It is known that it can adopt a more open form, for instance on the surface of a fibrin clot, that is much more readily activated.

This open form - closed form transition has been studies by a wide variety of techniques, however detailed structural information has not been forthcoming, since the intact molecule is too large for current NMR instruments, and has so far been refractory to crystallization. However, plasminogen is composed of several constituent units; in addition to its protease domains (~25kDa), plasminogen contains in five other compact domains known as kringles (~10kDa). The structures of most of these domains are known in isolation by either X-ray or NMR studies, or in some cases both. We are attempting to study this transition by placing spectroscopic probes (paramagnetic or fluorescent) on the various domains of plasminogen to try to localize these specific domains and determine their proximity to each other during this transition. By combining distance measurement between these domains, solvent accessibility data for the various surfaces, with the known high resolution structures of each isolated domain, we hope be able to assemble a model of the structure of the intact molecule in each of its conformational states.


  • 2015 Molza AE, Mangat K, Le Rumeur E, Hubert JF, Menhart N, Delalande O. Structural Basis of Neuronal Nitric-oxide Synthase Interaction with Dystrophin Repeats 16 and 17. J Biol Chem. 290(49):29531-41. DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M115.680660. PMID: 26378238; PMCID: PMC4705953.
  • 2012 Sahni N, Mangat K, Le Rumeur E, Menhart N. Exon edited dystrophin rods in the hinge 3 region. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1824(10):1080-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2012.06.011. PMID: 22750404.
  • 2010 Al Bataineh M, Huang L, Alonso M, Menhart N, Atkin GE. Analysis of gene translation using a communications theory approach. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2010;680:387-97. DOI: 10.1007/978-1-4419-5913-3_44. PMID: 20865523.
  • 2010 Mirza A, Sagathevan M, Sahni N, Choi L, Menhart N. A biophysical map of the dystrophin rod. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1804(9):1796-809. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2010.03.009. PMID: 20382276.
  • 2009 Bataineh MA, Alonso M, Huang L, Atkin GE, Menhart N. Effect of mutations on the detection of translational signals based on a communications theory approach. Conf Proc IEEE Eng Med Biol Soc. 2009:3853-6. DOI: 10.1109/IEMBS.2009.5332573. PMID: 19963598.
  • 2009 Albillos SM, Menhart N, Fu TJ. Structural stability of Amandin, a major allergen from almond (Prunus dulcis), and its acidic and basic polypeptides. J Agric Food Chem. 57(11):4698-705. DOI: 10.1021/jf803977z. PMID: 19374443.
  • 2009 Ruszczak C, Mirza A, Menhart N. Differential stabilities of alternative exon-skipped rod motifs of dystrophin. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1794(6):921-8. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2009.02.016. PMID: 19286484; PMCID: PMC2696117.
  • 2008 Mirza A, Menhart N. Stability of dystrophin STR fragments in relation to junction helicity. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1784(9):1301-9. DOI: 10.1016/j.bbapap.2008.05.010. PMID: 18589007; PMCID: PMC2579755.
  • 2006 Menhart N. Hybrid spectrin type repeats produced by exon-skipping in dystrophin. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2006 Jun;1764(6):993-9. PMID: 16716778; PMCID: PMC1925050.
  • 2006 Saadat L, Pittman L, Menhart N. Structural cooperativity in spectrin type repeats motifs of dystrophin. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1764(5):943-54. PMID: 16603424.
  • 2004 Reddy CV, Malinowska K, Menhart N, Wang R. Identification of TrkA on living PC12 cells by atomic force microscopy. Biochim Biophys Acta. 1667(1):15-25. PMID: 15533302.
  • 2004 Mathew E, Mirza A, Menhart N. Liquid-chromatography-coupled SAXS for accurate sizing of aggregating proteins. J Synchrotron Radiat. 2004 Jul 1;11(Pt 4):314-8. PMID: 15211037.

Additional publications ยป


  • muscular dystrophy,
  • structure of the dystrophin rod


  • biophysics, biochemistry, muscular dystrophy, hemostasis
Nick Menhart

Contact Information

312.567.3123 312.567.3494 358 Robert A. Pritzker Science Center