Luis Cruz-Vera, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Biological Sciences Coordinator; Biotechnology,
Science and Engineering program


301 Sparkman Drive
Shelby Center
Room 369L
Huntsville, AL 35899
Campus Map



My lab is interested in understanding how cellular products modulate the function of ribosomes, the molecular machines that carry out protein production, to influence gene expression, cellular metabolism and phenotypic plasticity in bacterial cells. Cellular protein production can be controlled by diverse mechanisms since a substantial number of factors and events are involved during this process. Despite the diversity, the regulation of protein production keeps two common and essential characteristics: 1) the nature of the synthesized protein plays an important role in the modulation of the function of the ribosome; and 2) inhibition, or delay, in the ribosome function leads to the accumulation of intermediary products of the protein production, named peptidyl-tRNAs. The objective of our research is to identify genes which expression depends in the regulation of the ribosome function by detecting peptidyl-tRNAs expressed under relevant cell growth conditions. Also, determine the molecular mechanism(s) responsible for regulation of the ribosome function by cellular products. We expect to produce a gene-expression profiling technology to analyze in vivo the accumulation of peptidyl-tRNAs.

Curriculum Vitae

Research Website


  • Postdoctoral fellow department of Biology, Stanford University. 2003-2007
  • Postdoctoral fellow department of Genetics and Molecular Biology, CINVESTAV-Mexico. 2000-2003
  • Ph.D in Genetics and Molecular Biology, CINVESTAV-Mexico, 2000
  • M.S in Genetics and Molecular Biology, CINVESTAV-Mexico, 1996
  • B.S in Chemistry and Pharmacobiology, BUAP-Mexico, 1995


  • Molecular Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Microbiology
  • Translation & Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Protein Synthesis

Recent Publications

  • Worthan, B. S., Franklin, A. F., Pham, C., Yap, M.N. and Cruz-Vera L.R. (2022). The identity of the constriction region of the ribosomal exit tunnel is important to maintain gene expression in Escherichia coli. Microbiol. Spectrum. 10(2): e02261-21 

  • van der Stel, A-X., Gordon, E. R., Sengupta, A., Martínez, A. K., Klepacki, D., Perry, T. N., Herrero del Valle, A., Vázquez-Laslop, N., Sachs, M. S., Cruz-Vera, L. R., and  Innis, C. A. (2021). Structural basis for the tryptophan sensitivity of TnaC-mediated ribosome stalling. Nat. Comm. 12(1):5340-5341

  • Emmanuel, J. S., Gordon, E. R., Sengupta, A., Noble, J.T., and Cruz-Vera, L.R. (2019). The regulatory TnaC nascent peptide preferentially inhibits release factor 2-mediated hydrolysis of peptidyl-tRNA. J. Biol. Chem.294(50): 19224-19235

  • Martinez, A. K., Gordon, E., Sengupta, A., Shirole, N. H., Klepacki, D., Martinez-Garriga B., Brown L.M., Benedik, M. J., Yanofsky, C., Mankin, A. S., Vazquez-Laslop, N., Sachs, M. S. and Cruz-Vera, L.R.(2014). Interactions of the TnaC nascent peptide with rRNA in the exit tunnel enable the ribosome to respond to free tryptophan. Nucleic Acid Res. 42(2): 1245-1256

  • Mcfeeters H., Gilbert M.J., Thompson R.M., Setzer, W.N., Cruz-Vera, L.R, McFeeters, R.L. (2012). Inhibition of essential bacterial peptidyl-tRNA hydrolase activity by tropical plant extracts. Nat. Prod. Commun.7(8):1107-1110.

  • Martinez, A. K., Shirole, N. H., Murakami, S., Benedik, M. J., Sachs, M. S. and Cruz-Vera, L.R.(2012). Crucial elements that maintain the interactions between the regulatory TnaCpeptide and the ribosome exit tunnel responsible for Trp inhibition of ribosome function. Nucleic Acid Res. 40(5):2247-2257.

  • Cruz-Vera, L.R., Sachs, M.S., Squires, C.L. and Yanofsky, C .(2011). Nascent polypeptide sequences that influence ribosome function. Curr. Opin. Microbiol. 14(2):160-166.

  • Shirole, N., Balasubramanian, S. and Cruz-Vera, L. R. (2011). Isolation of translating ribosomes containing peptidyl-tRNAs for functional and structural analyses. J. Vis. Exp. DOI: 10.3791/2498.

  • Cruz-Vera, L.R., Yang, R. and Yanofsky, C. (2009). Tryptophan inhibits Proteus vulgaris TnaC leader peptide elongation, activating tna operon expression. J. Bacteriol.191:7001-7006.

  • Yang, R., Cruz-Vera, L.R., and Yanofsky, C. (2009). 23S rRNA nucleotides in the peptidyl transferase center are essential for tryptophanase operon induction. J. Bacteriol.191:3445-3450.

Affiliate Faculty

Hudson Alpha Institute for Biotechnology

Dr. Gregory Barsh

Research Faculty

Dr. Josh Clevenger

Research Faculty

Dr. Nick Cochran

HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology

Dr. Sara Cooper

Research Faculty

Dr. Gregory Cooper

Research Faculty

Dr. Jane Grimwood

Research Faculty

Dr. Jian Han

Research Faculty

Dr. Alex Harkess

Research Faculty

Dr. Neil Edward Lamb

Research Faculty

Dr. Elaine Lyon

Research Faculty

Dr. John Mayo

Professor Emeritus, Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center-New Orleans

Dr. Richard Myers

Research Faculty

Dr. Le Su

Junior Fellow HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology

Dr. Kankshita Swaminathan

Research Faculty