Dr. Jonathan Lytton




Cumming School of Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology | Cell Signalling and Structure

Associate Member

Hotchkiss Brain Institute


Libin Cardiovascular Institute


Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute

Contact information

Phone number

Office: 403.220.2893


Office: HRICGC52

Preferred method of communication

Admin Assistant

Leslie McGill

Email: lmcgill@ucalgary.ca

Office: 403.220.4483


Educational Background

B.Sc. Biochemistry, University of Calgary, 1979

PhD Biochemistry, Harvard University, 1985

Postdoctoral Molecular Biology, University of Toronto, 1989


Dr. Lytton is currently a Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology in the Cumming School of Medicine. He obtained his PhD degree from Harvard University, and did postdoctoral studies at the University of Toronto, before taking a junior faculty position at Harvard Medical School and Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston. In 1995, Dr. Lytton returned to Calgary as an AHFMR Scholar and then Scientist in the Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology. He held the position of Department Head from 2009 to 2019. Dr. Lytton’s research concerns the molecular physiology of calcium transport proteins, with a particular focus on structure, function & regulation of different Na+/Ca2+-exchanger proteins and their roles in cardiovascular and neuronal biology. Dr. Lytton has published more than 80 manuscripts which have been cited over 10,000 times.


Areas of Research

Area of Focus
  • Molecular physiology of the K-dependent Na/Ca-exchanger, subtype 4, NCKX4
Summary of Research

The broad subject of investigation in the Lytton laboratory is the control of calcium homeostasis. Ca2+ 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 Ca2+ 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 key determinants of Ca2+ homeostasis in cells, such as neurons and secretory epithelia, where Ca2+ flux is high. 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 the NCKX4 member of the family, which is linked to several key physiological responses, including olfaction, vision, dental health, feeding behaviour as well as neurodegenerative pathological states. Current efforts are directed toward understanding the mechanisms that lead from exchanger function to the regulation of these important physiological processes. We are also pursuing the molecular mechanisms that regulate activity of NCKX4 itself.


  • Hans van de Sande Leadership & Service Award, 2020
  • Canada Research Chair Tier 1, 2007
  • Hans van de Sande Leadership & Service Award, 2007
  • AHFMR Scientist Award, 2006
  • Schultz Award for General Excellence, 2003
  • AHFMR Senior Scholar Award, 2000
  • CIHR Investigator Award, 2000
  • AHA Established Investigator Award, 1995
  • AHFMR Scholar Award, 1995
  • Calgary Herald New Investigator Award, 1995