Michael Tomlinson

Colleges, School and Institutes

Research interests

Regulation of membrane proteins and receptors by tetraspanins

I investigate how membrane proteins and receptors on human cells are regulated by a family of 33 tetraspanin ‘membrane organiser’ proteins.  A major focus is the regulation of the ‘molecular scissor’ ADAM10 by six tetraspanins that I have termed the TspanC8s.  These comprise Tspan5, 10, 14, 15, 17 and 33.  ADAM10 is essential for embryonic development and is expressed on all cells.  ADAM10 is critical for cellular development, activation and adhesion; it functions by proteolytically cleaving the extracellular regions from its target proteins that include the cell fate regulator Notch, amyloid precursor protein, cadherin adhesion molecules and the platelet-activating collagen/fibrin receptor GPVI.  We have proposed the “six scissor” hypothesis, whereby the associated TspanC8 dictates the subcellular localisation and substrate specificity of the ADAM10 scissor.  This has potential for therapeutic targeting of ADAM10 in a cell type- or substrate-specific manner, so minimising toxic side effects.  Diseases of interest include inflammatory diseases, heart attack and stroke, cancer, asthma and Alzheimer’s disease.

Education/Academic qualification

  • Doctor of Philosophy, University of Oxford

    Structure and function of tetraspanins in lymphocytes

  • Bachelor of Science, University of Bath

    BSc (Hons) in Applied Biology, Class 1

Willingness to take PhD students


PhD projects

Regulation of the 'molecular scissor' ADAM10 by tetraspanins: implications for human diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer's disease, asthma and inflammatory diseases such as heart attack and stroke.

Techniques include cell culture and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing, flow cytometry, co-immunoprecipitation and western blotting using the Odyssey Infrared Imaging System, and advanced fluorescence microscopy.