Marcelo P. Coba

Assistant Professor,
Psychiatry & the Behavioral Sciences
Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute
Keck School of Medicine of USC
PIBBS Mentor

Marcelo P. Coba

Research Topics

  • Synaptic signaling complexes
  • Psychiatric disorders
  • Protein phosphorylation
  • Cellular Neurobiology
  • Systems Biology
  • Proteomics

Research Images

Postsynaptic phosphoproteome network. Adjacent to each substrate the 'barcode' indicates the presence (black) or absence (white) of particular regulatory motifs within that substrate.Modulation of kinase-kinase interaction driven by neurotransmitter receptors activation. Kinase families/substrates groups are shown in color code,and black arrows indicates  interactions between different kinase groups.

Research Overview

Over recent years advances in genomic and proteomic technologies have made it possible to describe in detail the signaling mechanisms involved in cellular function. It is now clear that cells contain different signaling pathways arranged in a variety of macromolecular complexes, that diverge, converge, cross-talk and have feedback-control mechanisms. These networks integrate signals from multiple inputs thus modulating successive responses; therefore, cells future outputs are based on how they have been stimulated in the past. This complexity is formulated in the generation of large signaling networks, and novel approaches are needed for the global analysis of these networks and the complexity of cellular systems. Proteomic and bioinformatics based methods have emerged as fundamental tools in the identification of protein complexes and protein-phosphorylation events involved in protein function. The mammalian postsynaptic proteome (PSP) is a clear example of cell signaling complexity, it is comprised of ~1500 proteins in tightly linked macromolecular assemblies, including the postsynaptic density (PSD) and neurotransmitter receptor protein complexes. Although recent human genetic studies have identified numerous mutations associated with psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders within these complexes, translating these findings into a deeper understanding of the biological mechanisms underlying disease has been challenging. This is in part because the cellular processes regulated by many of these molecules are poorly understood. Moreover, little is known regarding how these sets of genes are integrated into common biochemical networks, such as postsynaptic signaling complexes. I am interested in the systems biology study of signaling networks and their role in developmental and psychiatric disorders. My research uses of a combination of multi-targeted, and large scale approaches, including proteomics, analysis of synaptic signaling complexes, post translational modification studies, computational biology and mouse genetics, directed to the analysis of cell signaling networks, their role controlling synaptic function and the mechanisms affecting disease.

Contact Information

Mailing Address Zilkha Neurogenetic Institute
1501 San Pablo Street
Los Angeles, California 90089 MC(2821), ZNI 427
Office Location ZNI 427
Office Phone (323) 442-4345
Lab Location ZNI 421
Lab Phone (323) 442-1638
Fax (323) 442-2145
Office Location ZNI 427



  • B.S. 1995 Biochemistry - University of Buenos Aires
  • Pharm.D. 1997 Pharmacy - University of Buenos Aires
  • Ph.D. 2003 Biological Chemistry - University of Buenos Aires
  • Postdoc 2011 Neuroscience - Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. Cambridge, UK.

Selected Publications

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  • Coba MP, Komiyama NH, Nithianantharajah J, Kopanitsa MV, Indersmitten T, Skene NG, Tuck EJ, Fricker DG, Elsegood KA, Stanford LE, Afinowi NO, Saksida LM, Bussey TJ, O'Dell TJ, Grant SG. TNiK Is Required for Postsynaptic and Nuclear Signaling Pathways and Cognitive Function. J Neurosci. [2012] Oct 3;32(40):13987-13999.

  • MacLaren EJ,Charlesworth P,Coba MP,Grant SG - Knockdown of mental disorder susceptibility genes disrupts neuronal network physiology in vitro. - Mol Cell Neurosci [2011] Jun;47(2):93-9 PubMed Link
  • Arbuckle MI,Komiyama NH,Delaney A,Coba M,Garry EM,Rosie R,Allchorne AJ,Forsyth LH,Bence M,Carlisle HJ,O'Dell TJ,Mitchell R,Fleetwood-Walker SM,Grant SG - The SH3 domain of postsynaptic density 95 mediates inflammatory pain through phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase recruitment. - EMBO Rep [2010] Jun;11(6):473-8 PubMed Link
  • Coba MP,Pocklington AJ,Collins MO,Kopanitsa MV,Uren RT,Swamy S,Croning MD,Choudhary JS,Grant SG - Neurotransmitters drive combinatorial multistate postsynaptic density networks. - Sci Signal [2009] Apr 28;2(68):ra19 PubMed Link
  • Coba MP,Valor LM,Kopanitsa MV,Afinowi NO,Grant SG - Kinase networks integrate profiles of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor-mediated gene expression in hippocampus. - J Biol Chem [2008] Dec 5;283(49):34101-7 PubMed Link
  • Delgado JY,Coba M,Anderson CN,Thompson KR,Gray EE,Heusner CL,Martin KC,Grant SG,O'Dell TJ - NMDA receptor activation dephosphorylates AMPA receptor glutamate receptor 1 subunits at threonine 840. - J Neurosci [2007] Nov 28;27(48):13210-21 PubMed Link
  • Cuthbert PC,Stanford LE,Coba MP,Ainge JA,Fink AE,Opazo P,Delgado JY,Komiyama NH,O'Dell TJ,Grant SG - Synapse-associated protein 102/dlgh3 couples the NMDA receptor to specific plasticity pathways and learning strategies. - J Neurosci [2007] Mar 7;27(10):2673-82 PubMed Link
  • Collins MO,Yu L,Coba MP,Husi H,Campuzano I,Blackstock WP,Choudhary JS,Grant SG - Proteomic analysis of in vivo phosphorylated synaptic proteins [2005] Feb 18;280(7):5972-82 PubMed Link