Avril Somlyo

Somlyo, Avril V.

Primary Appointment

Professor, Molecular Physiology and Biological Physics


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

Contact Information

PO Box 800736
Rm 1231B, Pinn Hall, 1340 Jefferson Park Ave
Charlottesville, Va 22908-0736
Telephone: 434-982-0825

Research Disciplines

Biophysics, Cardiovascular Biology, Physiology

Research Interests

Novel signal transduction pathways in smooth muscles that regulate contractility and impact diseases of the vasculature, airway and gastrointestinal tract.

Research Description

Our goal is to identify and characterize the function of molecules participating in signal transduction pathways that modulate contractility of smooth muscle (SM) both in adult tissues and smooth muscle cells that migrate.We continue our long term interests in the basic properties of the contractile apparatus and myosin crossbridges that reflect the special SM phenotype.

Our laboratory was amongst the first to recognize the involvement of the small GTPase RhoA, it's coupling to G-proteins coupled receptors and its ability to increase myosin regulatory light chain phosphorylation and force through inhibition of myosin phosphatase, and coined the term Ca2+ sensitization. Our current goal is to understand the physiological relevance, structure/function relationships and the mechanism of activation of the many RhoA GTP exchange factors (GEFS) and GTP activating proteins (GAPs) in SM, their crosstalk and their coupling to the plethora of agonists that stimultae SM, through different G-protein coupled receptors. These molecules may serve as more selective targets for therapies. Studies are carried out at the molecular, cellular, tissue and animal level in order to define the physiological or pathophysiological function of the signaling molecules under study.

Ultimately, the search for the basis of hypertension, atherosclerosis and other diseases of the vasculature drive the research.

List of Publications in Pubmed

Selected Publications