Professor Arieh Katz

Receptor Biology Group

Professor Arieh Katz PhD

Division of Medical Biochemistry and Structural Biology, Department of Integrative Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, UCT

The Group's mission is to study the structure and function of G protein-coupled receptors and to apply the research to understanding and treating diseases that have major effects on the social and economic welfare of South Africa. 

The G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) constitute the largest family of membrane proteins in the human genome (>80%) and they are the targets of about 50% of therapeutics. Despite this, only 10% of GPCRs in the human genome have been exploited for drug development and they thus remain a rich source for tackling human disease.  GPCR therapeutics target a wide range of disease, including reproductive, endocrine, cardiac, inflammatory and psychiatric disorders, as well as pain and obesity. GPCRs also have important roles in cancer and infectious disease, especially HIV/AIDS.

The research of the Group is organized into two themes:

  1. GPCRs in the Health and Dysfunction of the Reproductive System
  1. GPCRs in sexually-transmitted infections

Each theme consists of several research programmes that focus on a specific GPCR and its role in human disease or disorder.

Selected publications:

Blumenthal MJ, Schutz C, Meintjes G, Mohamed Z, Mendelson M, Ambler JM, Whitby D, Mackelprang RD, Carse S, Katz AA, Schäfer G. EPHA2 sequence variants are associated with susceptibility to Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus infection and Kaposi's sarcoma prevalence in HIV-infected patients. Cancer Epidemiol. 2018 Oct;56:133-139. doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2018.08.005. Epub 2018 Aug 31. PMID: 30176543

Cosnet L. Rametse, Antonio O. Adefuye, Abraham J. Olivier, Lyle Curry, Wendy A. Burgers, Arieh A Katz,  and Jo-Ann S. Passmore. Inflammatory cytokine profiles of semen influence cytokine responses of cervicovaginal epithelial cells. Frontiers in Immunology, 2018 Dec 4;9:2721. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.02721. eCollection 2018. PMID: 3056865

Georgia Schäfer, Lisa M. Graham, Dirk Lang, Melissa J. Blumenthal, Martina Bergant Marušič and Arieh A. Katz. Vimentin modulates infectious internalisation of HPV16 pseudovirions. J. of Virology, 2017, pii: JVI.00307-17. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00307-17. 

Adefuye AO, Adeola HA, Sales KJ, Katz AA. Seminal fluid-mediated Inflammation in physiology and pathology of the female reproductive tract. Journal of Immunology Research (2016) 9707252.

Newton CL, Anderson RC, Katz AA, Millar RP. Loss-of-function mutations in the human luteinizing hormone receptor predominantly cause intracellular retention. Endocrinology (2016) 157(11):4364-4377

Sutherland JR, Sales KJ, Jabbour HN, Katz AA (2012). Seminal plasma enhances cervical adenocarcinoma cell proliferation and tumour growth in vivo PLoS One 7(3):e33848.

Anderson RC, Newton CL, Millar RP, Katz AA (2014). The Brugia malayi neuropeptide receptor-4 is activated by FMRFamide-like peptides and signals via Gαi. Mol Biochem Parasitol. 195(1):54-8.

Kurt J. Sales, Sales KJ, Adefuye A, Nicholson L, Katz AA (2014). CCR5 expression is elevated in cervical cancer cells and is up-regulated by seminal plasma. Mol Hum Reprod. Aug 7. pii: gau063.

Contact details:

Room N2.02, Wernher and Beit North
Institute of Infectious Disease and Molecular Medicine
Faculty of Health Sciences
University of Cape Town
Observatory 7925
South Africa

Tel:  +27 21 406 6268
Fax: +27 21 406 6061

Group Members:

Robert P Millar, Professor, Full member

Georgia Schafer, Lecturer, Associate member

Heather Epstein, Principal Scientific Officer

Roshan Ebrahim, Scientific Officer

Xolani Nonzyana, Technical Officer

Sanelisiwe Nzuza, Postdoctoral Fellow

Melissa Blumenthal, PhD student

Nonkululeku Mkwanazi, PhD student

Sinead Carse, MSc student

Stefan Both, MSc student


Prof A. Aragay, Institut de Biologia Molecular de Barcelona, CSIC, 08028 Barcelona, Spain

Prof. Zvi Naor, Dept. of Biochemistry Tel Aviv University, Israel

Prof. G. van der Horst, Dept. of Physiological Sciences University of Western Cape

Prof. Kelly Chibale, Department of Chemistry and IDM, UCT

Prof G. Meintjes, Dept. Medicine and IDM, UCT

Prof.  M. Matjila, Dept. Obstetrics and Gynaecology, UCT & Groote Schuur Hospital