Marcos E. Ortega

HHMI Teaching and Research Post-Doctoral Fellow

F.W. Olin Science Center, Room 2387
1250 N. Dartmouth Ave.
Claremont, CA 91711

Education & Professional Experience

  • B.A. in Chemistry, Grinnell College
  • Ph.D. in Biochemistry, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Denver
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, USC


  • Biology 182: Chemistry in Living Systems

Research Interest

Structural Biology of Viruses

The Ortega lab utilizes X-ray crystallography, biophysical studies, and biochemical methods to try and understand DNA packaging of viruses at the molecular level.  We use bacteriophage as model systems to try and understand the complex machinery required to initiate replication of doublestranded DNA viruses.  The research goals in the Ortega lab are to crystallize viral proteins involved in assembly of a mature virus.  The protein crystals will allow for structure solution of these viral proteins which will hopefully help in developing viral therapies for eukaryotic viruses, including adenovirus, herpes virus, and Epstein Barr virus.

Current Students

  • Cleo Stannard

Current Research Collaborations

  • Xiaojiang Chen, Biological Sciences, University of Southern California
  • Carlos Catalano, Pharmaceutical Sciences, University of Washington
  • Michael Feiss, Microbiology, University of Iowa School of Medicine


Dasgupta J, Bienkowska-Haba M, Ortega ME, Patel HD, Bodevin S, Spillmann D, Bishop B, Sapp M, Chen XS. (2010) Structural Basis of Oligosaccharide Receptor Recognition by Human Papillomavirus. Journal of Biological Chemistry 286, 2617-2624.

Ortega ME, Gaussier H, and Catalano CE. (2007) The DNA Maturation Domain of gpA, the DNA Packaging Motor Protein of Bacteriophage Lambda, Contains an ATPase Site Associated with Endonuclease Activity. Journal of Molecular Biology 373, 851-865.

Ortega, M.E. and Catalano, C.E. (2006) Bacteriophage Lambda gpNu1 and Escherichia coli IHF Proteins Bind and Bend Viral DNA:  Implications for the Assembly of a Genome-Packaging Motor. Biochemistry 45, 5180-5189.

Gaussier H, Ortega ME, Maluf NK, and Catalano CE. (2005) Nucleotides Regulate the Conformational State of the Small Terminase Subunit From Bacteriophage Lambda: Implications for the Assembly of a Viral Genome-Packaging Motor  Biochemistry 44, 9645-56.

de beer T, Fang J, Ortega ME, Yang Q, Maes L, Duffy C, Berton N, Sippy J, Overduin M, Feiss M, and Catalano CE. (2002) Insights into Specific DNA Recognition During the Assembly of a Viral Genome Packaging Machine Molecular Cell9, 981-991

Bain, D.L., Berton, N., Ortega, M.E., Baran, J., Yang, Q., and Catalano, C.E. (2001) Biophysical Characterization of the DNA Binding Domain of gpNu1, a Viral DNA Packaging Protein. J. Biol. Chem.276, 20175-20181.

de Beer T, Ortega ME, Berton N, Yang Q, Overduin M, and Catalano CE. (2000) Letter to the Editor: Assignment of the 1H, 13C, and 15N Resonances of the DNA Binding Domain of gpNu1, A Genome Packaging Protein from Bacteriophage Lambda. J. Biomolecular NMR18, 69-70.