Contact Information


Dr. Michael Cascio earned his PhD in Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry from Columbia University in NYC. He then continued his studies as a post-doctoral researcher in labs at the Research Institute at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, CA, and Yale University in New Haven, CT, focusing on understanding how ion channels work. In 1994, he became a faculty member at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, teaching and conducting research for 15 years. Later, he moved to Duquesne University, where he continued studying membrane proteins.

His lab's main focus is on understanding how certain proteins in the brain work, particularly receptors and channels. They use advanced biotechnology to produce these proteins in large quantities and study their structures. By using techniques like circular dichroism and mass spectrometry, they examine the shapes of these proteins in detail. They also experiment with adding different chemicals and tags to the proteins to understand how they function. Additionally, Dr. Cascio's lab is investigating how the composition of fats in cell membranes affects protein structure and function. They are developing new methods using mass spectrometry to study these proteins, aiming to better understand how they interact and function in the body.


  • Ph.D., Biochem. & Mol. Biophysics, Columbia University
  • M.A., Biochem. & Mol. Biophysics, Columbia University
  • B.A., Chemistry and Biology, Cornell University

Research Interests

  • Membrane biophysics
  • Signal transduction
  • Lipids and bilayers
  • Crosslinking Mass Spectrometry
  • Ion channels and transporters

Profile Information


Refereed Articles

  1. Davic, A.P. and Cascio, M. (2021) Droplet-based microfluidics coupled with laser-induced fluorescence for sensitive detection of fatty acyl amines. Metabolites 11, 130. doi: 10.3390/metabo11030130
  2. Ferraro, N.A. and Cascio, M. (2020) State-dependent mapping of GlyR-cholesterol interactions by coupling crosslinking with mass spectrometry. bioRxiv
  3. Veeramachaneni, R.J., Donelan, C.A., Tomcho, K.A., Aggarwal, S. Lapinsky, D.J. and Cascio M. (2020) Site-specific crosslinking coupled with mass spectrometry as a structural tool in studies of the human α1 glycine receptor bioRxiv.
  4. DeMarco, A. G., Ferraro, N. A., Sweigard, K., and Cascio, M. (2020) Characterizing the lipid-protein interface of the human serotonin transporter by crosslinking mass spectrometry. bioRxiv
  5. Yarravarapu, N., Geffert L., Surratt C,K, Cascio M., and Lapinsky D.J. (2018) Clickable photoaffinity ligands for the human serotonin transporter based on the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (S)-citalopram. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 28:3431-3435. doi: 10.1016/j.bmcl.2018.09.029
  6. Ferraro N.A and Cascio M. (2018) Cross-Linking-Mass Spectrometry Studies of Cholesterol Inter-actions with Human α1 Glycine Receptor. Anal Chem. 90, 2508-2516. doi: 10.1021/acs.analchem.7b03639.
  7. Divito E.B., Kroniser K.M., and Cascio M. (2016) Multidimensional liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry for identification of bioactive fatty acyl derivatives. Front Physiol. 7, 608. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2016.00608
  8. Divito, E.B., Davic, A.P., Kroniser, K.M., and Cascio, M. (2016) Multidimensional liquid chromatography coupled with tandem mass spectrometry for identification of bioactive fatty acyl derivatives. Frontiers Physiol. 7:608 doi: 10.3389/fphys.2016.00608
  9. Liu, Z., Szarecka, A., Yonkunas, M., Speranskiy, K., Kurnikova, M., and Cascio, M. (2014) Crosslinking constraints and computational models as complementary tools in modeling the extracellular domain of the glycine receptor. PLOS One. 9, e102571.
  10. Pope, D., Madura, J., and Cascio M. (2014) β-Amyloid and neprilysin computational studies identify critical residues implicated in binding specificity. J. Chem. Inf. Model. 54, 1157-65.
  11. Janjic, J.M., Patel, S.K., Patrick, M.J., Pollock, J.A., DiVito, E.B., and Cascio, M. (2013) Suppressing inflammation from inside out with novel NIR visible perfluorocarbon nanotheranostics. Proceedings of SPIE (International Society for Optics and Photonics). Volume. 8596: Reporters, Markers, Dyes, Nanoparticles, and Molecular Probes for Biomedical Applications V (Eds: Achilefu, S. and Raghavachari, R.). 85960L.
  12. Divito, E.B., Davic, A.P., Johnson, M.E., and Cascio, M. (2012) Electrospray ionization and collision induced dissociation mass spectrometry of primary fatty acid amides. Anal Chem. 84, 2388-2294.
  13. Goss, J.R.*, Cascio, M.*, Goins, W.F., Huang, S., Krisky, D.M., Clarke, R.C., Johnson, J.W., Yoshimura, N., Gold, M.S., and Glorioso, J.C. (2011) HSV delivery of a ligand-regulated endogenous ion channel gene to sensory neurons results in pain control following channel activation. Molecular Therapy. 19, 500-506. (*co-first authors)
  14. Jameel, N.M., Thirunavukkarasu, C., Murase, N., Cascio, M., Prelich, J., Yang, S., Harvey, S.A.K., and Gandhi, C.R. (2010) Constitutive release of powerful antioxidant-scavenging activity by hepatic stellate cells: protection of hepatocytes from ischemia/reperfusion injury. Liver Transpl. 16, 1400-1409.
  15. Tseng, C.-N., Zhang, L., Wu, S,-L., Wang, W.-F., Wang, Z.Z., and Cascio, M. (2010) Asparagine of z8 insert is critical for the affinity, conformation and acetylcholine receptor-clustering activity of neural agrin. J. Biol. Chem. 285, 27641-27651.
  16. Ruthstein, S., Stone, K.M., Cunningham, T., Cascio, M., and Saxena, S. (2010) Pulsed Electron Spin Resonance resolves the coordination site of Cu+2 in a1-Glycine Receptor. Biophys. J. 99, 2497-2506.
  17. Van Laar V.S., Mishizen A.J., Cascio M., and Hastings T.G. (2009) Proteomic Identification of Dopamine-conjugated Proteins from Isolate Rat brain Mitochondria and SH-SY5Y Cells. Neurobiol. Disease. 34, 467-500.
  18. Cheng, M.H., Coalson, R.D. Cascio, M., and Kurnikova, M. (2008) Computational Prediction of Ion Permeation Characteristics in the Glycine Receptor Modified by Photo-sensitive Compounds. J. Comput. Aided Mol. Des. 22, 563-570.
  19. Liu, Z., Ramanoudjame, G., Liu, D., Fox, R.O., Jayaraman, V., Kurnikova, M., and Cascio, M. (2008) Overexpression and Functional Characterization of a Mutated Form of the Extracellular Domain of Human Homomeric 1 Glycine Receptor. Biochemistry. 47, 9803-9810.
  20. Dukes A.A., Van Laar V.S., Cascio M., and Hastings T.G. (2008) Changes in endoplasmic reticulum stress proteins and aldolase A in cells exposed to dopamine. J. Neurochem. 106, 333.
  21. Van Laar V.S., Dukes A.A., Cascio M., and Hastings T.G. (2008) Proteomic analysis of rat brain mitochondria following exposure to dopamine quinone: Implications for Parkinson disease. Neurobiology of Disease. 29, 477-489.
  22. Cheng, M.H., Coalson, R.D. and Cascio, M., (2008) Molecular Dynamics Simulations of Ethanol Binding to the Transmembrane Domain of the Glycine Receptor: Implications for the Channel Potentiation Mechanism. Proteins. 71, 972-81.
  23. Zhang, B.-S., Sun, C., Cascio, M. and Montelaro, R.C. (2008) Mapping of Equine Lentivirus Receptor-1 Residues Critical for EIAV Envelope Binding. J. Virol. 82, 1204-1213.
  24. Srinivasan, R., Huang, S., Chaudry, S., Sculptoreanu, A., Krisky, D., Cascio, M., Friedman, P.A., de Groat, W.C., Wolfe, D., and Glorioso, J.C. (2007) An HSV Vector System for Selection of Ligand-gated Ion Channel Modulators. Nature Methods. 4, 733-739.
  25. Cheng, M.H., Cascio, M., and Coalson, R.D. (2007) Homology Modeling and Molecular Dynamics Simulation of the Transmembrane Domain of the Human 1 Glycine Receptor. Proteins. 68, 581-593.
  26. Iyer, A.K.V., Tran, K.T., Borysenko, C.W., Cascio, M., Camacho, C.J., Blair, H.C., Bahar, I., and Wells, A. (2007) Tenascin Cytotactin Epidermal Growth Factor-Like Repeat Binds Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor with Low Affinity. J. Cell. Physiol. 211, 748-758.
  27. Speranskiy, K. Cascio, M., and Kurnikova, M. (2007) Homology model and Molecular Dynamics Simulations of the Glycine Receptor ligand binding Domain. Proteins 67, 950-960.
  28. Cheng, M.H., Cascio, M., and Coalson, R.D. (2005) Theoretical Studies of the M2 Transmembrane Segment of the Glycine Receptor: Models of the Open Pore Structure and Current-Voltage Characteristics. Biophys. J. 89, 1669-1680 (cover feature).
  29. Alajez, N.M., Schmielau, J., Alter, M.D., Cascio, M., and Finn, O.J. (2005) Therapeutic Potential of a Tumor Specific, MHC-unrestricted T Cell Receptor expressed on Effector Cells of the Innate and Adaptive Immune Systems through Bone Marrow transduction and Immune Reconstitution. Blood 15, 4583-4589 (cover feature).
  30. Deslouches, B., Phadke, S.M., Lazarevic, V., Cascio, M., Islam, K., Montelaro, R.C., Mietzner ,T.A. (2005) De novo Generation of Cationic Antimicrobial Peptides: Influence of Length and Tryptophan Substitution on Antimicrobial Activity. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 49, 316-322.
  31. Shangary, S., Oliver, C.L, Tillman ,T.S., Cascio, M., and Johnson D.E. (2004) Sequence and Helicity Requirements for the Proapoptotic Activity of Bax BH3 peptides. Mol. Cancer Ther. 3, 1343-1354.
  32. Kim, S.I., Voshol, H., van Oostrum, J., Hastings, T.G., Cascio, M., and Glucksman, M.J. (2004) Neuroproteomics - Expression Profiling of the Brain's Proteomes in Health and Disease. Neurochem. Res. 29, 1317-1331.
  33. Cascio, M., Mayor, J.A., and Kaplan, R.S. (2004) Analysis of the Secondary Structure of the Cys-less Yeast Mitochondrial Citrate Transport Protein and Four Single-Cys Variants by Circular Dichroism. J. Bioenerg. Biomembr. 36, 429-438.
  34. Tillman, T. and Cascio, M. (2003) Effects of Lipids on Ion Channel Structure and Function. Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics 38, 161-190.
  35. Tseng, C.-N., Zhang, L., Cascio, M., and Wang, Z.Z. (2003) Calcium Plays a Critical Role in Determining the Acetylcholine Receptor-clustering Activities of Alternatively Spliced Isoforms of Agrin. J. Biol. Chem. 278, 17236-17245.
  36. Cascio, M. and Rapaka, R. (2002) Structural Biology and Structural Genomics/Proteomics. J. Peptide Research. 60, 307-311.
  37. Cascio, M. (2002) Glycine Receptors: Lessons on Topology and Structural Effects of the Lipid Bilayer. Biopolymers 66, 359-368.
  38. Leite, J.F., Gribble, B., Randolph, N., and Cascio, M. (2002) In vitro Interaction of the Glycine Receptor with the Leptin Receptor. Physiology and Behavior 77, 565-569.
  39. Leite, J.F. and Cascio, M. (2002) Probing the Topology of the Glycine Receptor by Chemical Modification Coupled to Mass Spectrometry. Biochemistry 41, 6140-6148.
  40. Cascio, M., Shenkel, S., Grodzicki, R.L., Sigworth, F.J., and Fox, R.O. (2001) Functional Reconstitution and Characterization of Recombinant Human 1 Glycine Receptors. J. Biol. Chem. 276, 20981-20988.
  41. Leite, J. and Cascio, M. (2001) Structure of the Ligand-Gated Ion Channel Superfamily: Critical Assessment of Biochemical Data Supports Novel Topology. Mol. Cell. Neurosci. 17, 777-792.
  42. Leite, J., Amoscato, A., and Cascio, M. (2000) Coupled Proteolytic and Mass Spectrometry Studies Indicate Novel Topology for Glycine Receptor. J. Biol. Chem. 275:13683-13689.
  43. Chakraborty, A., Dyer, K.F., Cascio, M., Mietzner, T.A., and Tweardy, D.J. (1999) Identification of a Novel Stat3 Recruitment Motif within the Granulocyte Colony-Stimulating Factor Receptor. Blood 93:15-24.
  44. Cascio, M., Kumar, N.M., R. Safarik, and Gilula, N.B. (1995) Physical Characteristics of Gap Junction Membrane Connexons (Hemi-Channels) Isolated from Rat Liver. J. Biol. Chem. 270, 18643-18648.
  45. Cascio, M. and Wallace, B.A. (1995) Effects of Local Environment on the Circular Dichroism Spectra of Polypeptides. Analytical Biochem. 227, 90-100.
  46. Cascio, M. and Wallace, B.A. (1994) Red- and Blue-Shifting in the Circular Dichroism Spectra of Polypeptides Due to Dipole Effects. Protein and Peptide Lett. 1, 136-140.
  47. Cascio, M., Schoppa, N.E., Grodzicki, R.L., Sigworth, F.J., and Fox, R.O.(1993) Expression and Purification of a Homomeric Human 1 Glycine Receptor in Baculovirus-Infected Insect Cells. J. Biol. Chem. 268, 22135-22142.
  48. Cascio, M., Gogol, E., and Wallace, B.A. (1990) The Secondary Structure of Gap Junctions: Influence of Isolation Methods and Proteolysis. J. Biol. Chem. 265, 2358-2364.
  49. Cascio, M., Glazer, P.A., and Wallace, B.A. (1989) The Secondary Structure of Human Amyloid Deposits as Determined by Circular Dichroism Spectroscopy. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Comm. 162, 1162-1166.
  50. Cascio, M. and Wallace, B.A. (1989) Conformation of Alamethicin in Phospholipid Vesicles: Implication for Insertion Models. Proteins 4, 89-99.
  51. Wallace, B.A., Cascio, M., and Mielke, D.L. (1986) Evaluation of Prediction Methods for Membrane Protein Secondary Structures. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. (USA), 83, 9423-9427.
  52. Cascio, M. and Wallace, B.A. (1984) Effects of Environment on the Conformation of the Alamethicin Membrane Channel. Ann. N.Y. Acad. Sci. 435, 527-529.

Invited Articles, Reviews, and Book Chapters

  1. Kotermanski, S.E. and Cascio, M. (2016) Neuronal action potentials and ion channel allostery. In: Ralph A Bradshaw and Philip D Stahl (Editors-in-Chief), Encyclopedia of Cell Biology, (Waltham, MA: Academic Press,) 1, 244-251. doi:10.1016/B978-0-12-394447-4.10028-8.
  2. Pope, D. and Cascio, M. (2014) Neprilysin Inhibitors Provide Insight into the Specificity of the Enzyme and its Potential for Alzheimer's Disease Therapy. Frontiers in Drug Design and Discovery. 6, 598-622.
  3. Divito E.B. and Cascio, M. (2013) Metabolism, Physiology, and Analyses of Primary Fatty Acid Amides. Chemical Reviews. 13, 7343-7353.


  1. Patent: U.S. Patent No. 8,957,036, TARGETED DELIVERY OF GLYCINE RECEPTORS TO EXCITABLE CELLS, was issued on February 17, 2015. This patent targeted infection of peripheral nerves for expression of wild-type or mutated forms of the human a1 glycine receptor for subsequent activation for the treatment of pain. Patent holders are Cascio, Glorioso, Krisky and Goss and the University of Pittsburgh.
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Pain and Neurodegenerative Undergraduate Research Experiences: Interacting with community partners to build specialized and enhanced neurologic disease programs for undergraduates.
NIH R25 GM1234535 Cascio, M., and Mihailescu, M.R. and Tidgewell, K.J, Project/Proposal Start and End Date: 01/2018 – 12/2024 *
Total Award Amount (including Indirect Costs): $534,639