William R Montfort, PhD


William Montfort received BS and PhD degrees in Chemistry (Biochemistry emphasis) from Oakland University (1980) and the University of Texas (1985). His graduate studies, with Prof. Jon Robertus, led to the crystal structure of ricin. In his postdoctoral studies, with Prof. Robert Stroud at the University of California, San Francisco, he determined crystal structures of anticancer drug target thymidylate synthase. He moved to the University of Arizona in 1989, where he established a laboratory focused on protein structure/function and founded the X-ray crystallography facility. He is now Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry, and Director of the NIH-funded Biological Chemistry Graduate Program.

Cancer Focus

My research broadly concerns the link between protein structure and protein function, including how ligands and drugs bind to their targets and influence activity. One focus concerns nitric oxide signaling, with an emphasis on nitric oxide driven breast cancer. Our work includes studies on NO binding, transport and signaling regulation, and our approaches span atoms to animals. Among our studies are crystal structures of proteins containing nitrosyl-heme or nitroso-cysteine, transient kinetic measurements, biophysical measurements of transmembrane complexes and functional measurements in live cells. We currently seek mechanistic understanding of how excess nitric oxide production in breast cancer drives an aggressive tumor phenotype, and have identified novel targets for therapeutic intervention.