Jonathan Lytton


Biochemistry & Molecular Biology


Contact information


Office: 403-220-2893

Web presence

University of Calgary


Office : HRICGC52

Preferred method of communication


Leslie McGill


Office: 403-220-4483

Research and teaching

Research areas

  • Molecular physiology of Na/Ca-exchangers

Summary of Research

The broad subject of investigation in the Lytton laboratory is the control of calcium homeostasis. Calcium ion is a ubiquitous second messenger whose cytoplasmic concentration regulates a host of diverse biological events including muscle contraction, neurotransmitter secretion, hormone signaling, vesicle targeting and cell cycle control. We study proteins that transport calcium across membranes using molecular, biochemical, cellular and physiological techniques to understand structure, function and regulation.A major area of focus concerns a family of K-dependent Na/Ca-exchangers (NCKX) that are abundant in brain neurons, but also expressed selectively in other tissues. The unique roles these exchangers play in physiology is being pursued using recombinant structure-function studies, cell biological analyses, and genetically engineered mice. Our work is currently focused on two of these transporters, NCKX2 and NCKX4. The former appears to play a role in hippocampal plasticity underlying motor learning and working memory consolidation. The latter appears to play a pivotal role in the normal function of brain circuits underlying feeding behaviour and satiety. Current efforts are directed toward understanding the mechanisms that lead from exchanger function to the regulation of these important physiological processes.


Jonathan Lytton received his BSc(Honors) from the University of Calgary in 1979, and his PhD from Harvard University working with Guido Guidotti on regulation of the Na/K-ATPase pump in 1985, both in the area of Biochemistry. After postdoctoral studies with David MacLennan at the University of Toronto applying molecular biology approaches to studying the ER Ca-ATPase pump, Jonathan accepted a faculty position at Brigham & Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School in 1989. In 1995, Jonathan returned to Calgary as an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology in what is now the Cumming School of Medicine. He is currently Professor and Head of the Department (2009-2019).