Facebook Pixel Code
About Sickkids
About SickKids

Joan Boggs, PhD

Research Institute
Senior Scientist Emeritus
Molecular Medicine

University of Toronto
Laboratory Medicine & Pathobiology

Phone: 416-813-5919
Fax: 416-813-5022
Email: jmboggs@sickkids.ca

Research Interests

  • Myelin and Oligodendrocytes
  • Glycosphingolipid-Enriched Signalling Domains
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Protein-Protein associations
  • Lipid-Protein interactions

My research program is aimed at understanding structural mechanisms of cell membrane behaviour, particularly in myelin and the oligodendrocyte. My colleagues and I are currently focusing on the roles of myelin proteins in interactions with the cytoskeleton and the role of glycosphingolipids in cell-surface phenomena. We also study the interactions of other proteins and peptides with the lipid bilayer using a number of biochemical and biophysical techniques, such as hydrophobic photolabeling, electron paramagnetic resonance spectroscopy (spin labeling), and Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy. These are excellent techniques for studying membrane proteins and lipids. We expect that these studies will aid in the development of treatments for diseases in which the membrane constituents are abnormal and in development of drugs that act on membranes.

External Funding

CIHR, 2004-2009 (co-PI with Dr. Janet Wood)
Structural mechanism of osmosensing by osmosensor and osmoregulatory transporter ProP of E. coli.

MS Society, 2007-2009
Functions of myelin basic protein in oligodendrocytes and myelin.

MS Society 2008-2010
Glycosphingolipid interactions and signaling domains in oligodendrocyte/myelin membranes (PI)

CIHR 2008-2013
Functions of myelin basic protein in oligodendrocytes and myelin (PI)


Musse AA, Gao W, Homchaudhuri L, Boggs JM, Harauz G. Myelin basic protein as a "PI(4,5)P2-modulin": a new biological function for a major central nervous system protein, Biochemistry 47 (2008) 10372-82.

Culham DE, Vernikovska Y, Tschowri N, Keates RAB, Wood JM, Boggs JM. Periplasmic loops of osmosensory transporter ProP in Escherichia coli are sensitive to osmolality, Biochemistry 47 (2008) 13584-13593.

Hirahara Y, Matsuda K-I, Gao W, Arvanitis DN, Kawata M, Boggs JM. The localization and non-genomic function of the membrane-associated estrogen receptor in oligodendrocytes, Glia 57 (2009) 153-165.

Boggs JM, editor, Myelin Basic Protein, in series “Intrinsically Disordered Proteins” edited by V. N. N. Uversky and A. K. Dunker, Nova Science Publishers, Inc., NY, 2008.

Boggs JM, Gao W, Hirahara Y. Myelin glycosphingolipids, galactosylceramide and sulfatide, participate in carbohydrate-carbohydrate interactions between apposed membranes and may form glycosynapses between oligodendrocyte and/or myelin membranes, Biochim. Biophys. Acta 1780 (2008) 445-455

Polverini E, Rangaraj G, Libich D, Boggs JM, Harauz G. Binding of the proline-rich segment of myelin basic protein to Sh3-domains – spectroscopic, microarray, and modelling studies of ligand conformation and effects of post-translational modifications, Biochemistry 47 (2008) 267-282

Boggs JM, Gao W, Hirahara Y. Signal transduction pathways involved on interaction of galactosylceramide/sulfatide-containing liposomes with cultured oligodendrocytes and requirement for myelin basic protein and glycosphingolipids, J. Neurosci. Res. 86 (2008) 1448-1458

Musse AA, Gao W, Homchaudhuri L, Boggs JM, Harauz G. Myelin basic protein as a "PI(4,5)P2-Modulin": a new biological function for a major central nervous system protein, Biochemistry 47 (2008) 10372-82

Liu F, Culham DE, Vernikovska YaI, Keates RAB, Boggs JM, Wood JM. Structure and function of the XIIth transmembrane segment in osmosensor and osmoprotectant transporter ProP of Escherichia coli, Biochemistry 46 (2007) 5647-55

Musse AA, Boggs JM, Harauz G. Deimination of membrane-associated myelin basic protein in multiple sclerosis exposes an immunodominant epitope, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 103 (2006) 4422-4427

Boggs JM. Myelin basic protein: a multifunctional protein, Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 63 (2006) 1945-61.

Boggs JM, Rangaraj G, Gao W, Heng Y-M. Effect of phosphorylation of myelin basic protein by MAPK on its interactions with actin and actin binding to a lipid membrane in vitro, Biochemistry 45 (2006) 391-401.

Hillar A, Culham DE, Vernikovska YI, Wood JM, Boggs JM. Formation of an antiparallel, intermolecular coiled-coil is associated with in vivo dimerization of osmosensor and osmoprotectant transporter ProP in Escherichia coli, Biochemistry 44 (2005) 10170-10180.

Boggs JM, Rangaraj G, Hill CMD, Bates IR, Heng Y-M, Harauz G. Effect of arginine loss in myelin basic protein, as occurs in its deiminated charge isoform, on mediation of actin polymerization and actin binding to a lipid membrane in vitro, Biochemistry 44 (2005) 3524-3534.

Wood JM, Culham DE, Hillar A, Vernikovska YI, Liu F, Boggs JM, Keates RAB. A structural model for the osmosensor, transporter, and osmoregulator ProP of Escherichia coli, Biochemistry 44 (2005) 5634-5646.

Arvanitis DN, Min W, Gong Y, Meng Y-M, Boggs JM. Two types of detergent-insoluble, glycosphingolipid/cholesterol-rich membrane domains in isolated myelin, J. Neurochem. 94 (2005) 1696-1710.

Boggs JM, Wang H, Gao W, Arvanitis D, Gong Y, Min W. A glycosynapse in myelin?, Glycoconj. J. 21 (2004) 97-110

Bates IR, Feix J, Boggs JM, Harauz G. An immunodominant epitope of myelin basic protein is an amphipathic α-helix. J Biol Chem. (2004) Feb 13;279(7):5757-5764. EPUB ahead of print. Epub 2003 Nov 20.

Bates IR, Boggs JM, Feix J, Harauz G. Membrane anchoring and charge effects in the interaction of myelin basic protein with lipid bilayers studied by site-directed spin labeling. J. Biol. Chem. 278, (2003) 29041-29047.

Culham DE, Hillar A, Henderson J, Ly A, Vernikovska Ya I, Racher KI, Boggs JM, Wood JM. A fully functional cysteine-less variant of osmosensor and osmoprotectant transporter ProP from Escherichia coli: assessment of membrane topology and orientation. Biochemistry 42, (2003) 11815-11823.

Hillar A, Tripet B, Zoetewey D, Wood JM, Hodges RS, Boggs JM. Detection of a-helical coiled-coil dimer formation by spin-labeled synthetic peptides: A model coiled-coil peptide and a peptide replica of the C-terminal of ProP. Biochemistry 42, (2003) 15170-15178, .

Arvanitis DN, Yang W, Boggs JM. Myelin proteolipid protein, basic protein, the small isoform of myelin-associated glycoprotein, and p42MAPK are associated in the TX-100 extract of central nervous system myelin. J. Neurosci. Res. 70, (2002) 8-23.