Eric (VJ) Rubenstein
Eric (VJ) Rubenstein
Professor of Biology


Room:FB 416


Yale University, Postdoctoral Fellowship (2008 - 2012)
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PhD (2003 - 2008)

Research Interests

Most eukaryotic proteins that function in the endomembrane system or extracellular space traverse the translocon during or shortly after translation. Proteins that arrest during translocation clog the channel, prevent the passage of other proteins into the endoplasmic reticulum (ER), and impair cell function. Underscoring the importance of maintaining functional translocons, eukaryotes possess multiple conserved translocon quality control (TQC) mechanisms, several of which we have discovered or characterized. Numerous proteins essential for health use the translocon as a portal to the endomembrane system. Enzymes mediating TQC promote neurological homeostasis, healthy aging, and other aspects of human health. At least two proteins with profound significance for metabolic physiology (low-density lipoprotein component apolipoprotein B and oligomeric islet amyloid polypeptide) persistently engage translocons. Components of conserved TQC mechanisms represent potential therapeutic targets for several human diseases, including hypercholesterolemia and diabetes. Our lab uses a combination of genetic and biochemical approaches in a yeast model system to characterize molecular mechanisms by which cells resolved clogged channels.


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(Mentored student co-authors italized)

Doss EM, Tragesser-Tiña ME, Huang Y, Smaldino PJ, True JD, Kalinski AL, Rubenstein EM. APC/CCdh1p and Slx5p/Slx8p ubiquitin ligases confer resistance to aminoglycoside hygromycin B in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. microPublication Biology, published online (, 2022.

Woodruff KA, Richards KA, Evans MD, Scott AR, Voas BM, Irelan CB, Olesen JB, Smaldino PJ, Rubenstein EM. Inner Nuclear Membrane Asi Ubiquitin Ligase Catalytic Subunits Asi1p and Asi3p, but not Asi2p, confer resistance to aminoglycoside hygromycin B in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. microPublication Biology, published online (, 2021.

Runnebohm AM, Richards KA, Broshar CL, Turk SM, Vitali HE, Indovina CJ, Rubenstein EM. Overlapping function of Hrd1 and Ste24 in translocon quality control provides robust channel surveillance. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 295 (16113-16120), 2020.

Richardson AE, Zentz ZA, Chambers AE, Sandwith SN, Reisinger MA, Saunders DW, Tompkins JD, Riggs AD, Routh ED,Rubenstein EM, Smaldino MA, Vaughn JP, Haney RA, Smaldino PJ. G-quadruplex helicase DHX36/G4R1 engages nuclear lamina proteins in quiescent breast cancer cells. ACS Omega. 5 (24916-24926), 2020.

Broshar CL, Rubenstein EM (2020). Glucose concentration does not affect degradation of a protein that aberrantly engages the endoplasmic reticulum translocon. microPublication Biology, published online (, 2020. 

Richards KA, Rubenstein EM (2020). Endoplasmic reticulum stress-regulated degradation of a translocon-associated protein is independent of integrated stress response transcription factor Gcn4p. microPublication Biology, published online (, 2020.

Runnebohm AM, Evans MD, Richardson AE, Turk SM, Olesen JB, Smaldino PJ, Rubenstein EM. Loss of protein quality control gene UBR1 sensitizes Saccharomyces cerevisiae to the aminoglycoside hygromycin B. Fine Focus. In press.

Buchanan BW, Mehrtash AB, Broshar CL, Runnebohm AM, Snow BJ, Scanameo LN, Hochstrasser M, Rubenstein EM. Endoplasmic reticulum stress differentially inhibits endoplasmic reticulum and inner nuclear membrane protein quality control degradation pathways. Journal of Biological Chemistry 294 (19814–19830), 2019.

Niekamp JM, Evans MD, Scott AR, Smaldino PJ, Rubenstein EM. TOM1 confers resistance to the aminoglycoside hygromycin B in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. microPublication Biology, published online (https:// 10.17912/micropub.biology.000193), 2019.

Walls JT, Wyatt KH, Doll JC, Rubenstein EM, Rober AR. Hot and toxic: Temperature regulates microcystin release from cyanobacteria. Science of the Total Environment 610–611 (786–795), 2018.

Engle SM, Crowder JJ, Watts SG, Indovina CJ, Coffey SZ, Rubenstein EM. Acetylation of N-terminus and two internal amino acids is dispensable for degradation of a protein that aberrantly engages the endoplasmic reticulum translocon. PeerJ 5:e3728, 2017.

Buchanan BW, Lloyd ME, Engle SM, Rubenstein EM. Cycloheximide chase analysis of protein degradation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The Journal of Visualized Experiments 110 (e53975), 2016.

Ray DB, Merrill GA, Brenner FJ, Lytle LL, Lam T, McElhinney A, Anders J, Rock TT, Lyker JK, Barcus S, Leslie KH, Kramer JM, Rubenstein EM, Schanz KP, Parkhurst AJ, Peck M, Good K, Granath KL, Cifra N, Detweiler JW, Stevens L, Albertson R, Deir R, Stewart E, Wingard K, Richardson MR, Blizard SB, Gillespie LE, Rzewnicki DI, Jones DH. T24 HRAS Transformed NIH/3T3 Mouse Cells (GhrasT-NIH/3T3) in Serial Tumorigenic Passages Give Rise to Increasingly Aggressive Tumorigenic Cell Lines T1-A and T2-A and Metastatic Cell Lines T3-HA and T4-PA. Experimental Cell Research 340 (1 – 11), 2016.

Crowder JJ, Geigges M, Gibson RT, Fults ES, Buchanan BW, Sachs N, Schink A, Kreft SG, Rubenstein EM. Rkr1/Ltn1 Ubiquitin Ligase-Mediated Degradation of Translationally Stalled Endoplasmic Reticulum Proteins. The Journal of Biological Chemistry 290 (18454-18466), 2015.

Watts SG, Crowder JJ, Coffey SC, Rubenstein EM. Growth-based determination and biochemical confirmation of genetic requirements for protein degradation in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. The Journal of Visualized Experiments 96 (e52428), 2015.

Zattas D, Adle DJ, Rubenstein EM, Hochstrasser M. N-terminal acetylation of the yeast Derlin Der1 is essential for Hrd1 ubiquitin-ligase activity toward luminal ER substrates. Molecular Biology of the Cell 24 (890-900), 2013.

Rubenstein EM. Quality control at the endoplasmic reticulum translocon. Salud (i) Ciencia, 2013. Published online.

Rubenstein EM, Kreft SG, Greenblatt W, Swanson RJ, Hochstrasser M. Aberrant substrate engagement of the Sec61 translocon triggers degradation by the Hrd1 ubiquitin ligase. The Journal of Cell Biology 197, No. 6 (761-773), 2012.

Rubenstein EM, Hochstrasser M. Redundancy and variation in the ubiquitin-mediated proteolytic targeting of a transcription factor. Cell Cycle 9, No. 21 (4282-4285), 2010.

Rubenstein EM, Schmidt MC. The glucose signal and metabolic p[H+]lux. EMBO Journal 29, No. 15 (2473-2474), 2010.

Xie Y, Rubenstein EM, Matt T, Hochstrasser M. SUMO-independent in vivo activity of a SUMO-targeted ubiquitin ligase toward a short-lived transcription factor. Genes and Development 24, No. 9 (893-903), 2010.

Rubenstein EM, McCartney RR, Zhang C, Shokat KM, Shirra MK, Arndt KM, Schmidt MC. Access denied: Snf1 activation loop phosphorylation is controlled by availability of the phosphorylated threonine 210 to the PP1 phosphatase. Journal of Biological Chemistry 283, No. 1 (222-230), 2008.

Rubenstein EM, Schmidt MC. Mechanisms regulating the protein kinases of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Eukaryotic Cell 6, No. 4 (571-583), 2007.

Elbing K, Rubenstein EM, McCartney RR, Schmidt MC. Subunits of the Snf1 kinase heterotrimer show interdependence for association and activity. Journal of Biological Chemistry 281, No. 36 (26170-26180), 2006.

Rubenstein EM, McCartney RR, Schmidt MC. Regulatory Domains of the Snf1-Activating Kinases Determine Pathway Specificity. Eukaryotic Cell 5, No.4 (620-627), 2006.

McCartney RR, Rubenstein EM, Schmidt MC. Snf1 kinase complexes with different beta subunits display stress-dependent preferences for the three Snf1-activating kinases. Current Genetics 47, No. 6 (335-344), 2005.

Course Schedule
Course No. Section Times Days Location
Undergraduate Resear 498 800 0000 - 0000 OL, room ONLINE
Thesis 698 401 0000 - 0000