Integrated Search Menu

Marcia Levitus

Profile photo
Assoc Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 5601
Associate Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 1604
Associate Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 1604
Biography

Associate Professor, Biodesign Institute;  Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences

Office: BDA 124A, Lab: BDA 115
Phone: 480-727-8586, Lab Phone: 480-727-0428
Fax: 480-965-2747

Education

Ph.D., University of Buenos Aires, 1998.
Postdoctoral Researcher, UCLA, 1998-2000 and UC Berkeley 2000-2004
B.S., Chemistry, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1995.

Research Areas

Physical Chemistry and Biophysics

Research and Teaching Interests

Marcia Levitus' research group focuses on the development and application of state-of-the-art techniques of single molecule detection to study complex biological systems. They use an interdisciplinary approach that interweaves concepts from physics, chemistry and biology.

Conformational dynamics of biomolecules: In contrast with the more conventional fluorescence techniques, where billions of molecules are sampled simultaneously, single molecule techniques allow the observation of subpopulations and rare events that would otherwise be hidden in the measured average. More importantly, the observation of an individual molecule allows for the study of dynamic aspects of conformational changes without the need to synchronize the entire sample. A related technique, Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy, is based on the analysis of the fluctuations in the fluorescent signal of a small number of molecules. Correlation analysis of the fluorescence fluctuations yields kinetic information about the dynamic processes that cause the changes in the fluorescent signal.

The research group uses these concepts to investigate the dynamics, structure and kinetics of nucleoprotein assemblies. Specific projects in this line of research include the study of the dynamic aspects of DNA-protein interactions in nucleosomes. The group is interested in characterizing the spontaneous DNA unwrapping and re-wrapping kinetics, and in the study of the effect of ATP-dependent remodeling enzymes.

Photophysical properties of fluorescent dyes commonly used in single molecule spectroscopy: They are also interested in studying the photochemical and photophysical properties of fluorescent dyes that are commonly used for single-molecule applications. Photophysical processes are a source of artifacts that have not been thoroughly explored in many cases. Photochemical reactions, such as isomerizations, produce results that can be interpreted as conformational changes of the macromolecule to which the fluorophore is attached. A careful characterization of the photophysical properties of these fluorophores is critical for correct interpretation of experimental results.

Selected Publications

1. "Demystifying PIFE: The Photophysics Behind the Protein-Induced Fluorescence Enhancement Phenomenon in Cy3".

Elana M. S. Stennett, Monika A. Ciuba, Su Lin,  Marcia Levitus.  J. Phys. Chem. Lett   2015 .  6 1819-1823

2. "Intrinsic stability and oligomerization dynamics of DNA processivity clamps".

Binder, J. K., Douma, L.G., Ranjit, S., Kanno D.M., Chakraborty, M., Bloom, L.B., and  Levitus M   Nucl. Acids. Res. 2014 .  42 , 6476-6486. 

3.   "Protein Oligomerization Monitored by Fluorescence Fluctuation Spectroscopy: Self-Assembly of Rubisco Activase".

Chakraborty,M., Kuriata, A.M., Henderson, J.N., Salvucci, M.E., Wachter, R.M.and  Levitus M   Biophys. J.   2012 .  103 , 949-958

4. "Fluorescence Properties and Photophysics of the Sulfoindocyanine Cy3 Linked Covalently to DNA".

Sanborn M.E., Connolly B.K., Gurunathan K.,  Levitus M .  J. Phys. Chem. B  2007 .  111 , 1064. 

Education

Ph.D., University of Buenos Aires, 1998

Research Interests

Our research is focused on the development and application of state-of-the-art techniques of single molecule detection to study complex biological systems. We use an interdisciplinary approach that interweaves concepts from physics, chemistry and biology.

-Conformational dynamics of biomolecules

In contrast with the more conventional fluorescence techniques, where billions of molecules are sampled simultaneously, single molecule techniques allow the observation of subpopulations and rare events that would otherwise be hidden in the measured average. More importantly, the observation of an individual molecule allows for the study of dynamic aspects of conformational changes without the need to synchronize the entire sample. A related technique, Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy, is based on the analysis of the fluctuations in the fluorescent signal of a small number of molecules. Correlation analysis of the fluorescence fluctuations yields kinetic information about the dynamic processes that cause the changes in the fluorescent signal.
We use these concepts to investigate the dynamics, structure and kinetics of nucleoprotein assemblies. Specific projects in this line of research include the study of the dynamic aspects of DNA-protein interactions in nucleosomes. We are interested in characterizing the spontaneous DNA unwrapping and re-wrapping kinetics, and in the study of the effect of ATP-dependent remodeling enzymes.

- Photophysical properties of fluorescent dyes commonly used in single molecule spectroscopy.

We are also interested in studying the photochemical and photophysical properties of fluorescent dyes that are commonly used for single-molecule applications. Photophysical processes are a source of artifacts that have not been thoroughly explored in many cases. Photochemical reactions, such as isomerizations, produce results that can be interpreted as conformational changes of the macromolecule to which the fluorophore is attached. A careful characterization of the photophysical properties of these fluorophores is critical for correct interpretation of experimental results.

Publications
  • Elana M. S. Stennett, Monika A. Ciuba, Su Lin, Marcia Levitus. Demystifying PIFE: The Photophysics Behind the Protein-Induced Fluorescence Enhancement Phenomenon in Cy3. J. Phys. Chem. (2015)
  • Agnieszka M. Kuriata, Manas Chakraborty,J. Nathan Henderson, Suratna Hazra, Andrew J. Serban, Tuong V. T. Pham, Marcia Levitus., Rebekka M. Wachter. ATP and Magnesium Promote Cotton Short-Form Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate Carboxylase/Oxygenase (Rubisco) Activase Hexamer Formation at Low Micromolar Concentrations. Biochemistry (2014).
  • David M. Kanno and M. Levitus. Protein Oligomerization Equilibria and Kinetics Investigated by Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy: A Mathematical Treatment. Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2014).
  • Jennifer Binder , Lauren Douma , Suman Ranjit , David Kanno , Manas Chakraborty , Linda Bloom, Marcia Levitus. Intrinsic stability and oligomerization dynamics of DNA processivity clamps. Nucleic Acids Research (2014).
  • Shinde, S., Binder, J. K., Goyal, B., Woodrum, B., De Munari, S., Levitus, M.and Ghirlanda, G. A Designed Buried Salt Bridge Modulates Heterodimerization of a Membrane Peptide". Biopolymers (2014).
  • Stennett, E. M. S., Ning, M., van der Vaart, A, and Levitus M. Photophysical and Dynamical Properties of Doubly Linked Cy3–DNA Constructs. J. Phys. Chem. B (2014).
  • M. Ciuba and M. Levitus. Manganese-Induced Triplet Blinking and Photobleaching of Single Molecule Cyanine Dyes. ChemPhysChem (2013).
  • Chakraborty,M., Kuriata, A.M., Henderson, J.N., Salvucci, M.E., Wachter, R.M.and Levitus M. Protein Oligomerization Monitored by Fluorescence Fluctuation Spectroscopy: Self-Assembly of Rubisco Activase. Biophysical Journal (2012).
  • E. Stennett, G. Kodis and M. Levitus. Photobleaching and blinking of TAMRA induced by Mn2+. ChemPhysChem (2012).
  • Ranjit S, Levitus M. Probing the interaction between fluorophores and DNA nucleotides by fluorescence correlation spectroscopy and fluorescence quenching. Photochem. Photobiol (2012).
  • Wang G., Dhar K., Swanson P.C., Levitus M, and Chang Y. Real-time monitoring of RAG-catalyzed DNA cleavage unveils dynamic changes in coding end association with the coding end complex. Nucl. Acids Res (2012).
  • J. Spiriti, J.K. Binder, M. Levitus and A. van der Vaart. Cy3-DNA Stacking Interactions Strongly Depend on the Identity of the Terminal Basepair. Biophysical Journal (2011).
  • Levitus M. Chemical Kinetics at the Single-Molecule Level. Journal of Chemical Education (2011).
  • Levitus M. and Ranjit S. "Cyanine dyes in biophysical research: the photophysics of polymethine fluorescent dyes in biomolecular environments". Quarterly Reviews in Biophysics (2011).
  • Spiriti J, Binder JK, Levitus M and van der Vaart A. Cy3-DNA Stacking Interactions Strongly Depend on the Identity of the Terminal Basepair. Biophys. J (2011).
  • Tims H.S., Gurunathan K, Levitus M and Widom J. Dynamics of Nucleosome Invasion by DNA Binding Proteins. J. Mol. Biol (2011).
  • Marcia Levitus. Book Review: Handbook of Fluorescence Spectroscopy and Imaging. From Ensemble to Single Molecules. Edited by Markus Sauer, Johan Hofkens and Jörg Enderlein. (2011).
  • K. Gurunathan and M. Levitus. "FRET Fluctuation Spectroscopy of Diffusing Biopolymers: Contributions of Conformational Dynamics and Translational Diffusion". J. Phys. Chem. B (2010).
  • Levitus M. Relaxation Kinetics by Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy: Determination of Kinetic Parameters in the Presence of Fluorescent Impurities. Journal of Physical Chemistry Letters (2010).
  • Levitus M. Sequence-dependent photophysical properties of Cy3-labeled DNA. Proc. SPIE 7576 (2010).
  • Billie Harvey and Marcia Levitus. Nucleobase-Specific Enhancement of Cy3 Fluorescence. Journal of Fluorescence (2009).
  • Harvey B.J., Perez C., Levitus M. DNA Sequence-Dependent Enhancement of Cy3 Fluorescence. Photochem. Photobiol. Sci (2009).
  • Suman Ranjit, Kaushik Gurunathan, Marcia Levitus. Photophysics of backbone fluorescent DNA modifications: reducing uncertainties in FRET. Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2009).
  • Billie Harvey and Marcia Levitus. Nucleobase-Specific Enhancement of Cy3 Fluorescence. Journal of Fluorescence (2008).
  • K. Gurunathan and M. Levitus. Applications of Fluorescence Correlation Spectroscopy to the Study of Nucleic Acid Conformational Dynamics. Progress in Nucleic Acid Research and Molecular Biology (2008).
  • M.E.Sanborn, B.K. Connolly, K. Gurunathan and M. Levitus. Fluorescence Properties and Photophysics of the Sulfoindocyanine Cy3 Linked Covalently to DNA. Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2007).
  • Tedman Torres, Marcia Levitus. Measuring Conformational Dynamics: A New FCS-FRET Approach. Journal of Physical Chemistry B (2007).
  • Li Gu, Marcia Levitus, Carlos Bustamante, Jonathan Widom. Rapid spontaneous accessibility of nucleosomal DNA. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol (2005).
  • Eric Goedken, Marcia Levitus, Carlos Bustamante, Mike O'Donnell, John Kuriyan. Fluorescence measurements on the E. coli DNA polymerase clamp loader: Implications for conformational changes during ATP and clamp binding. J.Mol.Biol (2004).
  • H Dang, Marcia Levitus, M Garcia-Garibay. One step Pd(0)-catalyzed synthesis, X-Ray analysis, and photophysical properties of cyclopent[hi]aceanthrylene: fullerene-like properties in a non-alternant cyclopenta-fused aromatic hydrocarbon. J. Am. Chem. Soc (2002).
  • K Schmieder, Marcia Levitus, H Dang, M Garcia-Garibay. Photophysical properties of coplanar and twisted 1,4-Bis(9-athynylanthracenyl)benzene. Rotational equilibrium in the excited states of diarylalkynes. J. Phys. Chem. A (2002).
  • Marcia Levitus, G Zepeda, H Dang, C Godinez, T Khuong, K Schmieder, M Garcia-Garibay. Steps to demarcate the effects of chromophore aggregation and planarization in poly(phenyleneethynylene)s. 2. The photophysics of 1,4-diethynyl-2-fluorobenzene in solution and in crystals. J. Org. Chem (2001).
  • Marcia Levitus, K Schmieder, H Ricks, K Shimizu, U Bunz, M Garcia-Garibay. Steps to demarcate the effects of chromophore aggregation and planarization in poly(phenyleneethynylene)s. 1. Rotationally interrupted conjugation in the excited states of 1,4-bis(phenylethynyl)benzene. J. Am. Chem. Soc (2001).
  • Marcia Levitus, M Garcia-Garibay. Polarized Electronic Spectroscopy and Photophysical Properties of 9,10-Bis(phenylethynyl)anthracene. J. Phys. Chem. A (2000).
Research Activity
  • Davies,Paul*, Davies,Paul*, Beckstein,Oliver, Levitus,Marcia. YR 4: Pilot Projects: Beyond Center - A Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology. HHS-NIH-NCI(9/1/2012 - 8/31/2013).
  • Levitus,Marcia*. The Dynamics of Replication Processivity Factors. NSF-BIO(6/1/2012 - 5/31/2016).
  • Wachter,Rebekka M*, Levitus,Marcia. SISGR: The Regulation of Carbon Fixation in Plant and Green Algae: Rubisco Activase and the Origin of Heat Inactivation of CO2 Assimilation. DOE-CHICAGO(9/15/2009 - 9/14/2018).
  • Levitus,Marcia*. Intramolecular Dynamics of Biochemical Processes: An FCS-FRET Novel Approach. HHS-NIH-NIEHS(8/1/2007 - 5/31/2010).
  • Levitus,Marcia*. CAREER: Conformational Dynamics of DNA and Nucleosomes: A Quantitative Single-Molecule Study. NSF-MPS-PHY(4/15/2007 - 3/31/2013).
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 341Physical Chem with Bio Focus
BIO 499Individualized Instruction
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
CHM 240Math Methods in Chemistry
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 341Physical Chem with Bio Focus
BIO 499Individualized Instruction
Spring 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
CHM 240Math Methods in Chemistry
Fall 2015
Course NumberCourse Title
BIO 499Individualized Instruction
CHM 598Special Topics
Fall 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
BIO 499Individualized Instruction
CHM 598Special Topics
Spring 2014
Course NumberCourse Title
CHM 240Math Methods in Chemistry
Spring 2013
Course NumberCourse Title
CHM 240Intro to Physical Chemistry
Service
  • Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry. Personnel Committee, elected member (2014 - Present)
  • IMAX Theater, Arizona Science Center, Phoenix., Speaker at the Unbelievable Frontiers Event (2014 - Present)
  • Laboratory for Fluorescence Dynamics., Member of the advisory committee (2014 - Present)
  • CLAS. Committee to conduct the search for the new dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences., member of the search committee (2014 - Present)
  • National Science Foundation, Ad-hoc reviewer (2013 - Present)
  • Search Committee for a faculty positions in biological physics (physics/Biodesign Institute), member (2012 - Present)
  • Graduate College, speaker (2012 - Present)
  • Ask a Biologist/ Arizona Science Center, translator (2012 - Present)
  • National Science Foundation, on site panelist (2012 - Present)
  • Reviewer for several journals, reviewer (2012 - Present)
  • ChemPhysChem, reviewer (2011 - Present)
  • Biophysical Society, Member of the governance council (by election) (2011 - Present)
  • Biophysical Society, Member of the governance council (by election) (2011 - Present)
  • Biophysical Society, Member of the governance council (by election) (2011 - Present)
  • MGE&MSA (NSF-funded Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Program based at Arizona State University.), Participant (2011 - Present)
  • MGE&MSA (NSF-funded Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Program based at Arizona State University.), Participant (2011 - Present)
  • MGE&MSA (NSF-funded Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Program based at Arizona State University.), Participant (2011 - Present)
  • MGE&MSA (NSF-funded Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Program based at Arizona State University.), Participant (2011 - Present)
  • Search Committee for a faculty positions in theoretical biological physics, member (2011 - Present)
  • Seminars Committee, chair (2011 - Present)
  • Seminars Committee, chair (2011 - Present)
  • Seminars Committee, chair (2011 - Present)
  • Seminars Committee, chair (2011 - Present)
  • PLOS One, reviewer (2010 - Present)
  • PLOS One, reviewer (2010 - Present)
  • NIH, site reviewer for P41 grant (UC Irvine) (2010 - Present)
  • Seminar Committee (Chemistry and Biochemistry, Chair (2010 - Present)
  • Society of Mexican American Scientists and Engineers, key note speaker (2010 - Present)
  • Israeli Science Foundation., reviewer (2010 - Present)
  • Advisory Committee for the Ultrafast Laser Facility, Member (2009 - Present)
  • Advisory Committee for the Ultrafast Laser Facility, Member (2009 - Present)
  • Advisory Committee for the Ultrafast Laser Facility, Member (2009 - Present)
  • Advisory Committee for the Ultrafast Laser Facility, Member (2009 - Present)
  • Advisory Committee for the Ultrafast Laser Facility, Member (2009 - Present)
  • National Science Foundation, Ad-hoc reviewer (2009 - Present)
  • National Science Foundation, Ad-hoc reviewer (2009 - Present)
  • National Science Foundation, panelist (2009 - Present)
  • Arizona Science Center, member of the design team for the "Framing New Pathways to Medical Discovery" project (2009 - Present)
  • Arizona Science Center, member of the design team for the "Framing New Pathways to Medical Discovery" project (2009 - Present)
  • Arizona Science Center, member of the design team for the "Framing New Pathways to Medical Discovery" project (2009 - Present)
  • Bioconjugate Chemistry, reviewer (2009 - Present)
  • Journal of Fluorescence, reviewer (2009 - Present)
  • Journal of Fluorescence, reviewer (2009 - Present)
  • Journal of Fluorescence, reviewer (2009 - Present)
  • Journal of the American Chemical Society, reviewer (2009 - Present)
  • Journal of the American Chemical Society, reviewer (2009 - Present)
  • Journal of the American Chemical Society, reviewer (2009 - Present)
  • MGE&MSA (NSF-funded Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Program based at Arizona State University.), Participant (2009 - Present)
  • MGE&MSA (NSF-funded Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Program based at Arizona State University.), Participant (2009 - Present)
  • National Science Foundation, panelist (2008 - Present)
  • Biophysical Journal, reviewer (2008 - Present)
  • Biophysical Journal, reviewer (2008 - Present)
  • Journal of Physical Chemistry, reviewer (2008 - Present)
  • Journal of Physical Chemistry, reviewer (2008 - Present)
  • Journal of Physical Chemistry, Reviewer (2008 - Present)
  • National Science Foundation, ad hoc reviewer (2008 - Present)
  • Photochemistry and Photobiology, reviewer (2008 - Present)
  • Photochemistry and Photobiology, reviewer (2008 - Present)
  • Photochemistry and Photobiology, reviewer (2008 - Present)
  • PAGWA, founding member and faculty mentor (2007 - Present)
  • PAGWA, founding member and faculty mentor (2007 - Present)
  • PAGWA, founding member and faculty mentor (2007 - Present)
  • Strategic Planning Committee, Member (2006 - Present)
  • Strategic Planning Committee, Member (2006 - Present)
  • Strategic Planning Committee, Member (2006 - Present)
  • Graduate Students Advisory Committee, Faculty Liaison (2006 - Present)
  • MGE&MSA (NSF-funded Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) Program based at Arizona State University.), Participant (2006 - Present)
  • Search Committee for two positions in theoretical biological physics or biochemistry, Member (2005 - Present)
  • Graduate Programs Committee, Chair (2005 - Present)
  • Graduate Programs Committee, Member (2005 - Present)
  • Graduate Programs Committee, Member (2005 - Present)
  • Graduate Programs Committee, Member (2005 - Present)
  • Graduate Programs Committee, Member (2005 - Present)
  • Graduate Programs Committee, Member (2005 - Present)
  • Graduate Programs Committee, Member (2005 - Present)
  • National Institutes of Health. MSFB Study Section, Member of the study section (2014 - 2020)
  • Biophysical Society, Chair of the Nominating Committee (2014 - 2015)
  • Biophysical Society, Member of the governance council (by election) (2011 - 2015)
  • Reviewer for several journals, reviewer (2014 - 2014)
  • Arizona Science Center, member of the design team for the "Framing New Pathways to Medical Discovery" project (2009 - 2014)
  • National Science Foundation, ad-hoc reviewer (2014 - 2014)
  • National Science Foundation, member of a review pannel (2013 - 2013)
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH), member MSFB study section. Invited as temporary member. (2013 - 2013)
  • Graduate College Podcast Project, participant (2008 - 2008)
  • Sally Ride Festival, workshop presenter (2008 - 2008)
  • Santa Clara University, Prospective graduate students recruiter (2006 - 2006)
  • Monterrey Institute of Technology, Mexico, Prospective graduate students recruiter (2005 - 2005)
  • Expanding your Horizons San Joaquin Conference, Participant (2002 - 2002)