Dr Michael Tomlinson DPhil

Dr Michael Tomlinson

School of Biosciences
School Communications Lead
Reader in Membrane Protein Biology

Contact details

813, School of Biosciences
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Dr Mike Tomlinson is a Reader in Membrane Protein Biology in the School of Biosciences at the University of Birmingham.  He is a member of the Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE), and associate member of the Institute of Cardiovascular Sciences.  He is Communications Lead for the School of Biosciences.  Mike’s research focuses on tetraspanin membrane proteins as potential therapeutic targets for major human diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases. He enjoys research-led teaching on the molecular mechanisms underlying these diseases.


BSc (University of Bath)

DPhil (University of Oxford)


Dr Mike Tomlinson grew up in Birmingham before studying as an undergraduate at the University of Bath.  Mike was one of the founders of the tetraspanin field during his PhD at the Sir William Dunn School of Pathology in Oxford, supervised by immunologists Neil Barclay and Mark Wright.  Between 1996 and 2003 he did post-doctoral work in two leading lymphocyte cell signalling groups in the USA, run by Joe Bolen at DNAX Research Institute in Palo Alto, and by Art Weiss at the University of California, San Francisco. 

In 2004 he moved back to the UK to join the platelet research group of Steve Watson in the Institute of Biomedical Research at the University of Birmingham.  Mike started his own research group in 2005 through a MRC New Investigator Award Fellowship to study tetraspanin regulation of platelet receptors.  In 2009 he obtained a British Heart Foundation Senior Fellowship to expand his tetraspanin research to endothelial cells, and moved across campus to the School of Biosciences. 

Mike became a Senior Lecturer in 2014 and a Reader in Membrane Protein Biology in 2021. He has received research funding from the British Heart Foundation, BBSRC, MRC, European Research Council, Birmingham-Maastricht PhD Programme, MRC Harwell and the biotech industry.  His current work aims to capitalise on the growing potential of tetraspanins as drug targets in a variety of human disease processes.


Mike is module coordinator for the 2nd year module Topics in Medical Biosciences and brings his research-led teaching to the following modules:

Cell Biology & Physiology (1st year)

Cell & Developmental Biology (2nd year)

● Topics in Medical Biosciences (2nd year)

Cancer Biology (3rd year)

Molecular & Cellular Immunology (3rd year)

Functional Genomics (masters)

Research Techniques (masters)

Research Developments & Funding (masters)

Pharmaceuticals & Therapeutic Biologicals from Bench to Market (masters)

Mike also supervises final year research projects for several BSc, MSci, MSc and MRes students each year.

Postgraduate supervision

Mike has supervised eight PhD students to completion and has three current PhD students in his group.


Mike’s group investigates how tetraspanins regulate other important membrane proteins on the surface of human cells.

Mike has recently established a new paradigm in human membrane protein biology, whereby the important cell surface ‘molecular scissor’ ADAM10 is not one scissor, but six different scissors depending on which one of six tetraspanins, termed the TspanC8s, it is associated with – his ‘six scissor’ hypothesis.  This has major implications for future therapeutic targeting of diseases such as cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, asthma and inflammatory diseases including those leading to heart attack and stroke.  Targeting all six ADAM10 scissors in these diseases would be too toxic for the patient, but targeting the one scissor that is causing the disease has great potential.

Mike has also identified tetraspanin Tspan18 as a critical regulator of the store-operated Ca2+ entry channel Orai1 on endothelial cells, and as a potential therapeutic target for thrombo-inflammatory diseases such as deep vein thrombosis.

Dr Tomlinson leads the School of Biosciences Cells and Molecules Research Theme



Related Research: 

Centre of Membrane Proteins and Receptors (COMPARE): http://www.birmingham-nottingham.ac.uk/compare/

Other activities

When not chasing after one of his four young children, Dr Tomlinson can be found watching the Liverpool football team, growing chillies, or contemplating his next snowboarding or fishing trip.


Recent publications


Wang, X, Slater, A, Lee, SC, Harrison, N, Pollock, NL, Bakker, SE, Navarro, S, Nieswandt, B, Dafforn, TR, García, Á, Watson, SP & Tomlinson, MG 2024, 'Purification and characterisation of the platelet-activating GPVI/FcRγ complex in SMALPs', Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics, vol. 754, 109944. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.abb.2024.109944

Clark, JC, Martin, EM, Morán, LA, Di, Y, Wang, X, Zuidscherwoude, M, Brown, HC, Kavanagh, DM, Hummert, J, Eble, JA, Nieswandt, B, Stegner, D, Pollitt, AY, Herten, D, Tomlinson, MG, García, A & Watson, SP 2023, 'Divalent nanobodies to platelet CLEC-2 can serve as agonists or antagonists', Communications Biology, vol. 6, no. 1, 376. https://doi.org/10.1038/s42003-023-04766-6

Maqsood, Z, Clark, JC, Martin, EM, Cheung, YFH, Morán, LA, Watson, SET, Pike, JA, Di, Y, Poulter, NS, Slater, A, Lange, BMH, Nieswandt, B, Eble, JA, Tomlinson, MG, Owen, DM, Stegner, D, Bridge, LJ, Wierling, C & Watson, SP 2022, 'Experimental validation of computerised models of clustering of platelet glycoprotein receptors that signal via tandem SH2 domain proteins', PLoS Computational Biology, vol. 18, no. 11, e1010708. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pcbi.1010708

Koo, CZ, Matthews, AL, Harrison, N, Szyroka, J, Nieswandt, B, Gardiner, E, Poulter, NS & Tomlinson, MG 2022, 'The Platelet Collagen Receptor GPVI Is Cleaved by Tspan15/ADAM10 and Tspan33/ADAM10 Molecular Scissors', International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 23, no. 5, 2440. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms23052440

Clark, J, Neagoe, RAI, Zuidscherwoude, M, Kavanagh, D, Slater, A, Martin, E, Soave, M, Stegner, D, Nieswandt, B, Poulter, N, Hummert, J, Herten, D-P, Tomlinson, M, Hill, SJ & Watson, S 2021, 'Evidence that GPVI is expressed as a mixture of monomers and dimers, and that the D2 domain is not essential for GPVI activation: GPVI dimerisation is not critical for ligand binding', Thrombosis and Haemostasis, vol. 2021, no. 00, pp. 1-26. https://doi.org/10.1055/a-1401-5014

Seifert, A, Düsterhöft, S, Wozniak, J, Koo, CZ, Tomlinson, MG, Nuti, E, Rossello, A, Cuffaro, D, Yildiz, D & Ludwig, A 2021, 'The metalloproteinase ADAM10 requires its activity to sustain surface expression', Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences, vol. 78, no. 2, pp. 715-732. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00018-020-03507-w

Koo, CZ, Harrison, N, Noy, PJ, Szyroka, J, Matthews, AL, Hsia, H-E, Müller, SA, Tüshaus, J, Goulding, J, Willis, K, Apicella, C, Cragoe, B, Davis, E, Keles, M, Malinova, A, McFarlane, TA, Morrison, PR, Nguyen, HTH, Sykes, MC, Ahmed, H, Di Maio, A, Seipold, L, Saftig, P, Cull, E, Pliotas, C, Rubinstein, E, Poulter, NS, Briddon, SJ, Holliday, ND, Lichtenthaler, SF & Tomlinson, MG 2020, 'The tetraspanin Tspan15 is an essential subunit of an ADAM10 scissor complex', The Journal of biological chemistry, vol. 295, no. 36, pp. 12822-12839. https://doi.org/10.1074/jbc.RA120.012601

Noy, PJ, Gavin, RL, Colombo, D, Haining, EJ, Reyat, JS, Payne, H, Thielmann, I, Lokman, AB, Neag, G, Yang, J, Lloyd, T, Harrison, N, Heath, VL, Gardiner, C, Whitworth, KM, Robinson, J, Koo, CZ, Di Maio, A, Harrison, P, Lee, SP, Michelangeli, F, Kalia, N, Rainger, GE, Nieswandt, B, Brill, A, Watson, SP & Tomlinson, MG 2019, 'Tspan18 is a novel regulator of the Ca2+ channel Orai1 and von Willebrand factor release in endothelial cells', Haematologica, vol. 104, no. 9, pp. 1892-1905. https://doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2018.194241

De Winde, CM, Matthews, AL, Van Deventer, S, Van Der Schaaf, A, Tomlinson, ND, Jansen, E, Eble, JA, Nieswandt, B, Mcgettrick, HM, Figdor, CG, Tomlinson, MG, Acton, SE & Van Spriel, AB 2018, 'C-type lectin-like receptor 2 (CLEC-2)-dependent dendritic cell migration is controlled by tetraspanin CD37', Journal of Cell Science, vol. 131, no. 19, jcs214551. https://doi.org/10.1242/jcs.214551

Nicolson, P, Hughes, CE, Watson, S, Nock, SH, Hardy, A, Watson, CN, Montague, S, Clifford, H, Huissoon, AP, Malcor, J-D, Thomas, MR, Pollitt, AY, Tomlinson, M, Pratt, G & Watson, S 2018, 'Inhibition of Btk by Btk-specific concentrations of ibrutinib and acalabrutinib delays but does not block platelet aggregation mediated by glycoprotein VI', Haematologica, vol. 103, no. 12, pp. 2097-2108. https://doi.org/10.3324/haematol.2018.193391

Matthews, A, Koo, CZ, Szyroka, J, Harrison, N, Kanhere, A & Tomlinson, M 2018, 'Regulation of Leukocytes by TspanC8 Tetraspanins and the “Molecular Scissor” ADAM10', Frontiers in immunology, vol. 9, 1451. https://doi.org/10.3389/fimmu.2018.01451

Brummer, T, Pigoni, M, Rossello, A, Wang, H, Noy, PJ, Tomlinson, MG, Blobel, CP & Lichtenthaler, SF 2018, 'The metalloprotease ADAM10 (a disintegrin and metalloprotease 10) undergoes rapid, postlysis autocatalytic degradation', FASEB Journal, pp. fj201700823RR. https://doi.org/10.1096/fj.201700823RR

Reyat, J, Chimen, M, Noy, P, Szyroka, J, Rainger, G & Tomlinson, M 2017, 'ADAM10-interacting tetraspanins Tspan5 and Tspan17 regulate VE-cadherin expression and promote T lymphocyte transmigration', Journal of Immunology, vol. 199, no. 2, pp. 666-676. https://doi.org/10.4049/jimmunol.1600713

Review article

Harrison, N, Koo, CZ & Tomlinson, MG 2021, 'Regulation of ADAM10 by the TspanC8 Family of Tetraspanins and Their Therapeutic Potential', International Journal of Molecular Sciences, vol. 22, no. 13, 6707. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms22136707

Gavin, RL, Koo, CZ & Tomlinson, MG 2020, 'Tspan18 is a novel regulator of thrombo-inflammation', Medical Microbiology and Immunology, vol. 209, no. 4, pp. 553-564. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00430-020-00678-y

View all publications in research portal


regulation of membrane proteins and receptors by tetraspanins; membrane protein proteolysis by the ‘molecular scissor’ ADAM10