A/ Prof. Megan O'Mara

Honorary Professor
BAppSc (Canberra), Bsc (ANU), PhD (ANU)

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Megan was awarded her PhD from the Australian National University in 2005, after completing undergraduate degrees majoring in biochemistry (University of Canberra) and physics (ANU). She accepted a Canadian Institutes of Health Research Postdoctoral Fellowship to work at the University of Calgary from 2005 to 2008, before returning to Australia in 2009 as University of Queensland Postdoctoral Fellow (2009-2011) in the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences. In she took up an ARC DECRA at the University of Queensland and held a joint appointment as Lecturer between the School of Chemistry and Molecular Biosciences and the School of Mathematics and Physics. Megan joined the Research School of Chemistry as Rita Cornforth Fellow and Senior Lecturer in early 2015.



Research interests

Biophysical research is a vibrant and relatively young field that spans the interface between biochemistry, chemistry and physics. We use a range of computational techniques and theoretical approaches to understand the structure and dynamics of biological molecules. Our particular interest is membrane protein interactions, with a focus on membrane transport processes, particularly multidrug transporters; protein – protein, protein – ligand, and membrane – protein interactions; the effect of environmental agents on protein conformation; and the interpretation of sparse experimental datasets using simulations.


Building 138




  • 1. Begg, SL, BA Eijkelkamp, Z Luo, RM Couñago, JR Morey, MJ Maher, CY Ong, AG McEwan, B Kobe, ML O’Mara, JC Paton, CA McDevitt. Dysregulation of transition metal ion homeostasis is the molecular basis for cadmium toxicity in Streptococcus pneumoniae. 2015 Nature Communications, 6:6418
  • 2. O’Mara, ML. Joining the dots through molecular dynamics: linking the crystal structures of a membrane transport protein to its physiological conformation. 2014. Australian Biochemist, 45:7-11
  • 3. Brooks, AJ, W Dai, ML O’Mara, D Abankwa, Y Chhabra, RA Pelekanos, O Gardon, KA Tunny, KM Blucher, CJ Morton, MW Parker, E Sierecki, Y Gambin, K Alexandrov, IA Wilson, M Doxastakis, AE Mark, MJ Waters. A new cytokine receptor activation paradigm: activation of JAK2 by the growth hormone receptor. Science 344:1249783, DOI: 10.1126/science.1249783.
  • 4. JH van Wonderen*, RM McMahon*, ML O’Mara*, CA McDevitt, AJ Thomson, ID. Kerr, F MacMillan and R Callaghan. 2014. The central cavity of ABCB1 undergoes alternating access during ATP hydrolysis. FEBS Journal, 281: 2190–2201 (*co-first authors)
  • 5. O’Mara, ML* and AE Mark. 2014. Structural characterization of two metastable ATP-bound states of P-glycoprotein. PLoS One 9:e91916 (*corresponding author)
  • 6. Plumptre, CD, BA Eijkelkamp, JR Morey, F Behr, RM Couñago, AD Ogunniyi, B Kobe, ML O’Mara, JC Paton, CA McDevitt. 2014. Zinc homeostasis in Streptococcus pneumoniae and its requirement for bacterial colonization. Molecular Microbiology 91: 834–851
  • 7. Chen, W, R Wang, B Chen, X Zhong, H Kong, Y Bai, Q Zhou, C Xie, J Zhang, A Guo, X Tian, PP Jones, ML O’Mara, Y Liu, T Mi, L Zhang, J Bolstad, L Semeniuk, H Cheng, J Zhang, J Chen, DP Tieleman, AM Gillis, HJ Duff, M Fill, LS Song, SRW Chen. 2014. The Ryanodine Receptor store sensing gate controls Ca2+ waves and Ca2+ triggered arrhythmias. Nature Medicine, 20:184–192
  • 8. Couñago, RM, MP Ween, SL Begg, M Bajaj, J Zuegg, ML O’Mara, MA Cooper, AG McEwan, JC Paton, B Kobe, CA McDevitt. 2013. Imperfect coordination chemistry facilitates metal ion release in the Psa permease. Nature Chemical Biology 10:35–41
  • 9. Jia, ZG, ML O’Mara, J Zuegg, MA Cooper and AE Mark. 2013. Vancomycin: ligand recognition, dimerization and super-complex formation. FEBS Journal 280:1294–1307 (1 citations, JIF 3.790)
  • 10. Schmidt, TH, ML O’Mara and C Kandt. 2012. Molecular dynamics simulations of membrane proteins: building starting structures and example applications. Current Physical Chemistry 2: 363-378
  • 11. O’Mara, ML and AE Mark. 2012. The effect of environment on the structure of a membrane protein: P-glycoprotein under physiological conditions.  Journal of Chemical Theory and Computation 8: 3964-3976
  • 12. Fairweather, SJ, A Broer, ML O’Mara and S Broer. 2012. Intestinal peptidases form functional complexes with neutral amino acid transporter B0AT1 Biochemical Journal 446: 135-148
  • 13. Jia, ZG, ML O’Mara , J Zuegg, MA Cooper and AE Mark. 2011. The effect of environment on the recognition and binding of vancomycin to native and resistant forms of lipid II. Biophysical Journal 101:2684-2692
  • 14. McArthur, JR, G Singh, ML O’Mara, D McMaster, V Ostroumov, DP Tieleman and RJ French. 2011. Orientation of -conotoxin PIIIA in a sodium channel vestibule, based on its voltage dependence of binding. Molecular Pharmacology 80:219-227
  • 15. Xue. Y*, ML O’Mara*, PPT Surawski, M Trau, and AE Mark. 2011. Effect of Poly(ethylene glycol) (PEG) Spacers on the Conformational Properties of Small Peptides: A Molecular Dynamics Study. Langmuir 27:296-303. (*co-first authors)
  • 16. Crowley, E, ML O'Mara, ID Kerr, R Callaghan. 2010. Transmembrane helix 12 plays a pivotal role in coupling energy provision and drug binding in ABCB1. FEBS Journal 277:3974-85
  • 17. Jones, PM, ML O'Mara, AM George. 2009. ABC transporters: a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. Trends in Biochemical Sciences 34:520-31
  • 18. Crowley, E, ML O'Mara, C Reynolds, DP Tieleman, J Storm, ID Kerr, R Callaghan. 2009. Transmembrane Helix 12 Modulate Progression of the ATP Catalytic Cycle in ABCB1. Biochemistry  48:6249-58
  • 19. Procko, E, ML O’Mara, WFD Bennett, DP Tieleman and R Gaudet. 2009. The mechanism of ABC transporters: general lessons from structural and functional studies of an antigenic peptide transporter. FASEB Journal 23:1287-1302
  • 20. Oancea, G, ML O’Mara, WFD Bennett, DP Tieleman, R Abele and R Tampé. 2009. Structural Arrangement of the Transmission Interface in the ABC Transporter TAP Critical for Antigen Binding and Translocation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 106:5551-56
  • 21. Klassen, TL, ML O'Mara, M Redstone, AN Spencer, WJ Gallin. 2008. Non-linear intramolecular interactions and voltage sensitivity of a K V1 family potassium channel from Polyorchis penicillatus (Eschscholtz 1829) Journal of Experimental Biology 211:3442-53
  • 22. Moussatova, A, C Kandt, ML O’Mara, DP Tieleman. 2008. ATP binding cassette transporters in Escherichia coli. BBA Biomembranes 1778:1757-71
  • 23. Storm, J, S Modok, ML O’Mara, DP Tieleman, ID Kerr, R Callaghan. 2008. The cytosolic region of TM6 in P-glycoprotein: topographical analysis and functional perturbation by site directed labelling. Biochemistry 47:3615-24
  • 24. Lawson, J, ML O'Mara, ID Kerr. 2007. Structure-based interpretation of the mutagenesis database for the nucleotide binding domains of P-glycoprotein. BBA Biomembranes 1778:376-91
  • 25. O’Mara, ML and DP Tieleman. 2007. P-glycoprotein models of apo and ATP-bound states based on homology with Sav1866 and MalK. FEBS Letters 581:4217-22
  • 26. Storm, J, ML O’Mara, E Crowley, J Peall, DP Tieleman, ID Kerr and R Callaghan. 2007. Residue G346C in the transmembrane segment six is involved in inter-domain communication in P-glycoprotein. Biochemistry 46:9899-9910
  • 27. Oloo, E, C Kandt, ML O’Mara and DP Tieleman. 2006. Computer simulations of ABC transporter components. Biochemistry and Cell Biology 84:900-911
  • 28. O’Mara, ML, A Oakley and S Broer. 2006. Mechanism and putative structure of B0-like neutral amino acid transporters. Journal of Membrane Biology 213:111-18
  • 29. O'Mara, ML, BA Cromer, MW Parker and SH Chung. 2005. Homology Model of the GABAA Receptor Examined Using Brownian Dynamics. Biophysical Journal 88:3286-99
  • 30. Corry, B, M O’Mara and SH Chung. 2004. Permeation dynamics of chloride ions in the ClC-0 and ClC-1 channels. Chemical Physics Letters 386:233-238
  • 31. Corry, B, M O’Mara and SH Chung, 2004. Conduction Mechanisms of Chloride Ions in ClC-type Channels. Biophysical Journal 86:846-60
  • 32. O’Mara, M, PH Barry and SH Chung. 2003. A model of the glycine receptor deduced from Brownian dynamics studies. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA 100:4310-15