Josh Baker

Associate Professor


  • Ph.D., Biochemistry Biophysics and Molecular Biology, University of Minnesota, 1999
  • B.S., Physics, Hamline University, 1987

Professional experience

  • 1987-1988 Computer programmer, Honeywell
  • 1988-1993 Systems analyst, David Mitchell
  • 1999-2003 Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Vermont
  • 2004-2010 Assistant Professor, University of Nevada School of Medicine
  • 2010-present Associate Professor, University of Nevada School of Medicine

Research interests

We use single molecule and whole cell imaging and mechanics to determine the molecular mechanisms of muscle contraction and regulation in bioengineered smooth and striated muscle systems. We study the effects of protein modifications and small molecule effectors on molecular, cellular, and tissue mechanics to determine disease mechanisms and to test potential therapies. We develop simple models that integrate single molecule, cell, and tissue mechanochemical measurements into simulations of muscle contraction that are molecularly explicit yet easy to implement.

Selected publications

  • Baker, J.E., I. Brust-Mascher, L.E.W. LaConte, S. Ramachandran, and D.D. Thomas. 1998. A large and distinct rotation of the myosin light chain domain upon muscle contraction. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 95:2944-2949.
  • Brust-Mascher, I., L.E.W. LaConte, J.E. Baker, and D.D. Thomas. 1999. The myosin light-chain domain rotates upon muscle activation but not ATP hydrolysis. Biochemistry, 38:12607-12613.
  • Baker, J.E. and D.D. Thomas. 2000. Thermodynamics and kinetics of a molecular motor ensemble. Biophys. J. 79:1731-1736.
  • Warshaw, D.M., W.H. Guilford, Y. Freyzon, E. Krementsova, K.A. Palmiter, M.J. Tyska, J.E. Baker, and K.M. Trybus. 2000. The light chain binding domain of expressed smooth muscle heavy meromyosin acts as a mechanical lever. J. Biol. Chem. 275:37167-37172.
  • Baker, J.E., C. Brosseau, and D.M. Warshaw. 2003. Mechanochemistry of a minus-insert smooth muscle heavy meromyosin. J. Biol. Chem. 278:28533-285539.
  • Baker, J.E., E. Krementzova, G. Kennedy, A. Armstrong, K. Trybus, D.M. Warshaw 2004. Myosin V processivity: Multiple kinetic pathways for head-head coordination. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 101:5542-6.
  • Baker, J.E. 2004. Free energy transduction in a chemical motor model. J. Theor. Biol. 228:467-76.
  • Kad N.M., Kim S., Warshaw D.M., VanBuren P., Baker J.E. 2005. Single myosin crossbridge interactions with actin filaments regulated by troponin-tropomyosin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 102:16990-5.
  • Hooft, A., Maki, E., Cox, K., Baker J.E. 2007. An accelerated state of myosin-based actin motility. Biochemistry 46:3513-20.
  • Resnicow, D.I., Hooft, A.M., Harrison, B.C., Baker, J.E., Leinwand, L.A. 2008. GFP fails to inhibit actin-myosin interactions in vitro. Nat. Meth. 5:212-3.
  • Jackson, D.R. and Baker, J.E. 2009. The energetics of allosteric regulation of ADP release from myosin heads. Phys. Chem. Chem. Phys. DOI: 10.1039/B900998A
  • Ni, S., Hong, F., Brewer, P.D., Ikebe, M., Onishi, H., Baker, J.E., Facemyer, K.C., Cremo, C.R. 2009. Kinetic and motor functions mediated by distinct regions of the regulatory light chain of smooth muscle myosin. BBA - Proteins and Proteomics. 1794:1599-605.
  • Hong, F., Haldeman, B.D., John, O.A., Brewer, P.D., Wu, Y., Ni, S., Wilson, D.P., Walsh, M.P., Baker, J.E., and Cremo, C.R. 2009. Characterization of tightly associated smooth muscle myosin-myosin light chain kinase-calmodulin complexes. J. Mol. Biol. 31:879-92
  • Ba, M., Singer, C.A., Tyagi, M., Brophy, C., Baker, J.E., Cremo, C., Halayko, A., and Gerthoffer, W.T. 2009. HSP20 phosphorylation and airway smooth muscle relaxation. Cell Health and Cytoskeleton. 2009:27-42.
  • Sich, N.M., O'Donnell, T.J., Coulter, S.A., John, O.A., Cremo, C.R., Baker, J.E. 2010. Effects of actin-myosin kinetics on the calcium sensitivity of regulated thin filaments. J. Biol. Chem. 285:39150-39159.
  • Milton, D.L., Schneck, A.N., Ziech, D.A., Ba, M., Facemyer, K.C., Halayko, A.J., Baker, J.E., Gerthoffer, W.T., Cremo, C.R. 2011. Direct evidence for functional smooth muscle myosin II in the 10S self-inhibited monomeric conformation in airway smooth muscle cells. 2011.Proc Natl Acad Sci U.S.A. 108:1421-1426.
  • Hong, F., Haldeman, B.D., Jackson, D., Carter, M., Baker, J.E., Cremo, C.R. 2011. Biochemistry of smooth muscle myosin light chain kinase. Arch Biochem Biophys. 510:135-146.
  • Ni, S., Hong, F., Haldeman, B.D., Baker, J.E., Facemyer, K.C., Cremo, C.R. 2012. Modification of interface between regulatory and essential light chains hampers phosphorylation-dependent activation of smooth muscle myosin. J Biol. Chem. 287:22068-22079.
  • Stewart, T.J., Jackson, D.R., Smith, R.D., Shannon, S.F., Cremo, C.R., Baker, J.E. 2012. Actin sliding velocities are influenced by the driving forces of actin-myosin binding. Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering. 6:26-37.
  • Hong, F., Facemyer, K.C., Carter, M.S., Jackson, D.R., Haldeman, B.D., Ruana, N., Sutherland, C., Walsh, M.P., Cremo, C.R., Baker, J.E. 2013. Kinetics of myosin light chain kinase activation of smooth muscle myosin in an in vitro model system. Biochemistry 26:8489-8500.
  • Webb, M., Jackson, D.R., Stewart, T.J., Dugan, S.P., Carter, M.S., Cremo, C.R., Baker, J.E. 2013. The myosin duty ratio tunes the calcium sensitivity and cooperative activation of the thin filament. Biochemistry 52:6437-6444.
  • Jackson, D.R., Webb, M., Stewart, T., Carter, M., Cremo, C., Baker, J.E. 2013. Sucrose increases the activation energy barrier for actin-myosin strong binding. Arch Biochem Biophys.