Mark Saper, Ph.D.

Associate Professor Emeritus, Biological Chemistry
Associate Research Scientist Emeritus, Biophysics


Professor Saper received his B.S. degree from the University of Connecticut in 1976 and his Ph.D. degree from Rice University in 1983. Professor Saper joined the University of Michigan faculty as an assistant professor and assistant research scientist in 1990, and was promoted to associate professor and associate research scientist in 1997. He retired from active faculty status in 2021.

Professor Saper quickly established himself while a postdoctoral fellow, yielding three highly cited papers (>8000 citations) on the structure of the human major histocompatibility protein, HLA. He was honored as an HHMI, PEW, and Fulbright Scholar. He developed his international reputation from his structural biology studies of protein tyrosine phosphatases, publishing in journals such as Nature, Science, and Molecular Cell and giving presentations at international meetings. After his 1997 promotion he published structures of two E. coli heat shock proteins in collaboration with U-M Professors Bardwell and Jakob. A sabbatical visit to Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2003 resulted in binational funding with Professor Ilan Rosenshine and new research directions studying proteins necessary for the export of bacterial polysaccharide capsule (an essential virulence factor) from enteropathogenic E. coli, including crystal structure determination of one of these proteins. Thereafter he studied the LpoA protein, essential for bacterial cell wall biosynthesis, and an endopeptidase from Vibrio cholerae, also important for cell wall growth. To date, his publications have had over 15,000 citations (h-index=32). He was recognized by his peers as a highly skilled, hands-on crystallographer. Over his thirty years at U-M, Professor Saper taught an intensive course on X-ray crystallography for graduate students (Biophysics 602). He developed a hands-on molecular graphics component for the core Program in Biomedical Sciences (PIBS) course, Biological Chemistry 550 and Chemical Biology 501, and directed student seminar courses. He also lectured in Introductory Biochemistry. He advised undergraduate biochemistry majors, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers and served on departmental and Medical School committees, including the PIBS and Biophysics Graduate Admissions Committees, as well as the U-M Biomedical Research Council.

Published Articles or Reviews

Recent Publications

Escherichia coli O127 group 4 capsule proteins assemble at the outer membrane.
Larson MR, Biddle K, Gorman A, Boutom S, Rosenshine I, Saper MA.
PLoS One. 2021; 16: e0259900.

Structural basis of peptidoglycan endopeptidase regulation.
Shin JH, Sulpizio AG, Kelley A, Alvarez L, Murphy SG, Fan L, Cava F, Mao Y, Saper MA, Dörr T.
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2020; 117: 11692–702.

Structure of the capsule and lipopolysaccharide O-antigen from the channel catfish pathogen, Aeromonas hydrophila.
Heiss C, Wang Z, Thurlow CM, Hossain MJ, Sun D, Liles MR, Saper MA, Azadi P.
Carbohydr Res. 2019; 486: 107858.

Crystal Structure Of Photorespiratory Alanine:Glyoxylate Aminotransferase 1 (AGT1) From Arabidopsis thaliana.
Liepman AH, Vijayalakshmi J, Peisach D, Hulsebus B, Olsen LJ, Saper MA.
Front Plant Sci. 2019; 10: 1229.

Crystal structures of the amino-terminal domain of LpoA from Escherichia coli and Haemophilus influenzae.
Kelley A, Vijayalakshmi J, Saper MA.
Acta Crystallogr F Struct Biol Commun. 2019; 75: 368–76.

For a list of publications from PubMed, click HERE