Catherine Royer

Constellation Chair


Dr. Royer obtained her Bachelors (Licence) degree in 1979 at the University of Pierre and Marie Curie - Paris 6 in Biochemistry and Chemistry. She obtained her Ph.D. in 1985 in the Department of Biochemistry in the School of Chemical Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under the direction of Professor Gregorio Weber. She carried out postdoctoral studies at the University of Paris 7, the CNRS at Gif-sur-Yvette and at LURE under the direction of Bernard Alpert, Guy Hervé and Jean-Claude Brochon. She then took a position as User Coordinator and Research Physicist at the Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics in the Department of Physics at the University of Illinois - Urbana Champaign. In 1990 she moved to an Assistant Professorship in the School of Pharmacy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 1995. In 1997 she took the position of INSERM Director of Research in the Center for Structural Biochemistry in Montpellier France where, in 2002, she became Associate Director of the institute and in 2007, Director. In 2013 She moved to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute as a Professor of Biological Sciences and chaired Constellation Professor in Bioinformatics and Biocomputation.

Education & Training

Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1985 - Biochemistry

Licence (B.S.) Université Pierre et Marie Curie, 1979 - Biochemistry and Chemistry

Postdoctoral Research & Training

Postdoctoral Associate, Université Pierre et Marie Curie, CRNS, 1986-1987

Other affililations: Chemistry and Chemical Biology


My research aims at understanding the molecular basis for biological function in two main areas. The first involves understanding how amino acid sequence controls protein structural dynamics using pressure perturbation combined with state-of-the-art biophysical techniques. This is important information for protein design strategies for bio-pharmaceutics and for bio-engineering applications, as well as for understanding the evolution of protein sequences and life in extreme environments. The second area of research that I pursue involves characterizing, quantitatively, the protein interactions implicated in the regulation of gene expression. Currently we are trying to understand the links between cell growth and division in the model organism, budding yeast by applying advanced quantitative microscopy approaches. Understanding what drives cells to divide is important for understanding and developing therapeutic strategies for the treatment of many diseases, including cancer.

Primary Research Focus
Sequence determinants of biomolecular conformational landscapes; Molecular mechanisms of transcriptional regulation
Other Focus Areas

Pressure effects on biomolecules, protein folding, protein interaction networks, live cell quantitative fluorescence imaging, transcription regulation, molecular evolution


Office Hours

By appointment

Current Courses

BCBP 4800/6800 - Methods in Biophysics 

Biophysics addresses the physical principles of biological function, which requires the application of physical methods. The focus of this course is on methods used to study the interactions and dynamics of biomolecules in vitro, primarily proteins and nucleic acids. Both the theoretical and methodological aspects of molecular biophysical methods will be covered. This course is designed as an interdisciplinary introduction to the field and is open to students in biology, chemistry, physics, or engineering. 



Wang, J., Koduru, T., Harish, B., McCallum, S.A., Larsen, K.P., Patel, K.S., Peters, E.V., Gillilan, R.E., Puglisi, E.V., Puglisi, J., Makhatadze, G. & Royer, C.A., Pressure pushes tRNALys3 into excited conformational states, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 120, e2215556120. (2023)


Zhang, S., McCallum, S.A., Gillilan, R.E., Wang, J. & Royer, C.A., High pressure CPMG and CEST reveal that cavity position dictates distinct dynamic disorder in the pp32 repeat protein, J. Phys. Chem. B. 126, 10597-10607 (2022).

Harish, B., Wang, J., Hayden, E.J., Grabe, B., Hiller, W, Winter, R. & Royer, C.A., Hidden intermediates in Mango III RNA aptamer folding revealed by pressure perturbation, Biophys. J., 121, 421-429 (2022).

Tollis, S., Singh, J., Palou, R., Thattikota, Y., Ghazal, G., Coulombe-Huntington, J., Tang, X., Moore, S., Blake, D., Bonneil, E., Royer, C.A., Thibault, P. & Tyers, M., The microprotein Nrs1 rewires the G1/S transcriptional machinery during nitrogen limitation in budding yeast, PLoS Biology 20, e3001548 (2022).

Colman, D.R., Labesse, G., Swapna, G.V.T., Stefanakis, J. Montelione, G.T., Boyd, E.S. & Royer, C.A., Structural evolution of the ancient enzyme, Dissimilatory Sulfite Reductase, Proteins: Struct. Func. Bioinformatics 90, 1331-1345 (2022).

Litsios, A., Goswami, P., Terpstra, H.M., Coffin, C., Vuillemenot, L.-A., Rovetta, M., Ghazal, G., Guerra, P., Buczac, K., Schmidt, A., Tollis, S. Tyers, M.T., Royer, C.A., Milas-Argeitis, A. & Heinemann, M., The timing of Start is determined primarily by increased synthesis of the Cln3 activator rather than dilution of the Whi5 inhibitor, Mol. Biol. Cell. 33, rp2 (2022). 


Harish, B., Gillilan, R.E., Zou, J., Wang, J., Raleigh, D.P. & Royer, C. A. Protein unfolded states populated at high and ambient pressure are similarly compact, Biophys. J. 120, 2592-2598 (2021).

Bafna, K., White, K., Harish, B., Rosales, R., Ramelot, T.A., Acton, T.B., Moreno, E., Kehrer, T., Miorin, L., Royer, C.A., Garcia-Sastre, A., Krug, R.M., & Montelione, G.T. HCV drugs that inhibit the SARS-CoV-2 papain-like protease synergize with remdesivir to suppress viral replication in cell culture, Cell Reports35, 109133 (2021).

Ando, N., Barquera, B., Bartlett, D., Boyd, E., Burnim, A.A., Byer, A.S., Colman, D., Gillilan, R.E., Gruebele, M., Makhatadze, G., Royer, C.A.*, Shock, E., Wand, A.J. & Watkins, M.B. The molecular basis for life in extreme environments, Ann. Rev. Biophys., 50, 343-372 (2021).

Bourges A.C., Torres-Montaguth, O.E., Tadesse, W., Labesse, G., Aertsen, A., Royer, C.A & Declerck, N. An oligomeric switch controls the Mrr-induced SOS Response in E. coli, DNA Repair, 97, 103009, 2021.


Bourges, A., A. Lazarev, N. Declerck, K.L. Rogers, and C. Royer. 2020. Quantitative high-resolution imaging of live microbial cells at high hydrostatic pressure. Biophys. J. 118, 2670-2679 (2020).

Black, L., Tollis, S., Fu, G., Fiche, J.-B., Dorsey, S., Cheng, J., Notley, S., Crevier, B., Bigness, J., Nollmann, M., Tyers, M. and Royer, C. A.G1/S transcription factors assemble in discrete clusters that increase in number as cells grow, J. Cell. Biol. 219, e202003041 (2020). 10.1083/jcb.202003041


Zhang, S., Zhang, Y., Stenzoski, N., Zou, J., Peran, I., McCallum, S.A., Raleigh, D. & Royer, C.A. Pressure-Temperature Analysis of the Stability of the CTL9 Domain Reveals Hidden Intermediates Folding Intermediates of CTL9, Biophys. J. 116, 445-453 (2019). 

Roche, J., Royer, C.A. & Roumestand, C., Exploring protein conformational landscapes using high pressure NMR, Methods Enz., 614, 293-320 (2019).



Jenkins, K.A., Fossat, M.J., Zhang, S., Rai, D.K., Klein, S. Gillilan, R., White, Z., Gerlich, G., McCallum, S.A., Winter, R., Gruner, S.M., Barrick, D.& Royer, C.A. Consequences of Cavities on the Folding Landscape of a Repeat Protein Depend Upon Context, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 115(35): E8153-E8161 (2018).

Knop, J.-M., Harish, B. Patra, S., Royer, C.A. & Winter, R., The Deep Sea Osmolyte TMAO and Macromolecular Crowders Rescue the Antiparallel Conformation of the Human Telomeric G-Quadruplex from Urea and Pressure Stress, Chemistry - A European Journal, 24, 14346-14351 (2018). 

Møller, T.C., Hottin, J., Clerté, C., Zwier, J.M., Durroux, T., Rondard, P., Prézeau, L., Royer, C.A., Pin, J.-P., Margeat, E. & Kniazeff, J. Oligomerization of a G protein-coupled receptor in neurons controlled by its structural dynamics, Sci. Reports 8, 10414, (2018).

Dorsey, S., Tollis, S., Cheng, J., Black, L., Notley, S., Tyers, M. and Royer, C. A. G1/S Transcription Factor Copy Number is a Growth-Dependent Determinant of Cell Cycle Commitment in Yeast, Cell Systems, 6, 539+, (2018).

Andra, KK, Dorsey, A, Royer, C, Menon, AK Structural mapping of fluorescently-tagged, functional nhTMEM16 scramblase in a lipid bilayer, J. Biol. Chem., RA118. 003648 (2018).

The following is a selection of recent publications in Scopus. Catherine Royer has 156 indexed publications in the subjects of Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology, Medicine, Chemistry.

Luca Mazzei, Rebecca Greene-Cramer, Khushboo Bafna, Aleksandar Jovanovic, Anna De Falco, Thomas B. Acton, Catherine Ann Royer, Stefano Ciurli, Gaetano T. Montelione
STAR Protocols
, 4
, 2023
Edgar Peters, Tejaswi Naidu Koduru, Noam Hantman, Jacqueline Cherfils, Scott A. McCallum, Richard E. Gillilan, Catherine A. Royer
Biophysical journal
, 122
, 2023
Jinqiu Wang, Tejaswi Koduru, Balasubramanian Harish, Scott A. McCallum, Kevin P. Larsen, Karishma S. Patel, Edgar V. Peters, Richard E. Gillilan, Elisabetta V. Puglisi, Joseph D. Puglisi, George Makhatadze, Catherine A. Royer
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
, 120
, 2023
Catherine A. Royer, Mike Tyers, Sylvain Tollis
Current Opinion in Structural Biology
, 82
, 2023
Siwen Zhang, Scott A. McCallum, Richard E. Gillilan, Jinqiu Wang, Catherine A. Royer
Journal of Physical Chemistry B
, 126
, 2022
, pp.10597-10607
Daniel R. Colman, Gilles Labesse, Gurla V.T. Swapna, Johanna Stefanakis, Gaetano T. Montelione, Eric S. Boyd, Catherine A. Royer
Proteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics
, 90
, 2022
, pp.1331-1345
Athanasios Litsios, Pooja Goswami, Hanna M. Terpstra, Carleton Coffin, Luc Alban Vuillemenot, Mattia Rovetta, Ghada Ghazal, Paolo Guerra, Katarzyna Buczak, Alexander Schmidt, Sylvain Tollis, Mike Tyers, Catherine A. Royer, Andreas Milias-Argeitis, Matthias Heinemann
Molecular Biology of the Cell
, 33
, 2022
Sylvain Tollis, Jaspal Singh, Roger Palou, Yogitha Thattikota, Ghada Ghazal, Jasmin Coulombe-Huntington, Xiaojing Tang, Susan Moore, Deborah Blake, Eric Bonneil, Catherine A. Royer, Pierre Thibault, Mike Tyers
PLoS Biology
, 20
, 2022
Balasubramanian Harish, Jinqiu Wang, Eric J. Hayden, Bastian Grabe, Wolf Hiller, Roland Winter, Catherine A. Royer
Biophysical Journal
, 121
, 2022
, pp.421-429
Paul Bogdan, Gustavo Caetano-Anollés, Anna Jolles, Hyunju Kim, James Morris, Cheryl A. Murphy, Catherine Royer, Edward H. Snell, Adam Steinbrenner, Nicholas Strausfeld
Integrative and Comparative Biology
, 61
, 2021
, pp.1991-2010

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