Nadine Samara, Ph.D.

Nadine Samara, PhD

Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator

Distinguished Scholar

Building 30, Room 426
30 Convent Dr. MSC 4370
Bethesda, MD 20892
United States

Research Interests

The overall aim of our group is to characterize the O-glycosyltransferases that synthesize O-glycans or polysaccharides that influence host-microbe interactions. In higher eukaryotes, the mucus that coats the epithelium and protects underlying tissue from damage and infection while providing an optimal environment for commensal microbes obtains its protective properties from densely O-glycosylated mucin proteins. The large family of isoenzymes that initiate mucin-type O-glycosylation by transferring O-GalNAc to Thr/Ser residues are the polypeptide N-acetylgalactosaminyltransferases (GalNAc-Ts). These enzymes are critical for normal development, and their dysfunction is associated with developmental diseases, neurological disorders, and cancer. However, we are only beginning to understand how GalNAc-Ts recognize and modify their substrates. Similarly, microbes synthesize protective polysaccharide, glycoprotein, and glycolipid structures such as capsular polysaccharide (CPS) that are virulence factors, and the machinery responsible for the synthesis of these structures are potential anti-microbial targets. We primarily use biochemical and structural methods, including X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy, to obtain atomic level details on how O-glycosyltransferases recognize, bind to, and modify their substrates.

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Nadine Samara was born in New York City and has lived in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the United States. Upon graduating from the American University of Beirut with a BS in Chemistry, she returned to the United States and obtained a Ph.D. in Molecular Biophysics from The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She then started her postdoctoral research as an NIGMS-PRAT Fellow at NIDDK/NIH. In 2015, Dr. Samara transitioned to a Staff Scientist Position at NIDCR/NIH, where she is now an Earl Stadtman Investigator and Chief of the Structural Biochemistry Unit. As a Distinguished Scholar at NIH, Dr. Samara will focus on building an inclusive and diverse environment within the lab and institute.

Selected Publications
Last Reviewed on
March 2024