Photo of Richard E. Mains, Ph.D.

Richard E. Mains, Ph.D.

Professor of Neuroscience
Academic Office Location:
UConn Health
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030-3401
Phone: 860-679-8894
Fax: 860-679-1060

Neuroscience Graduate Program

Mains Lab

B.S.Brown UniversityEngineering
M.S.Brown UniversityEngineering
Ph.D.Harvard UniversityNeurobiology

Post-Graduate Training
FellowshipHarvard UniversityNSF predoctoral fellow: Neurobiology, Dr. David Potter, advisor
PostdoctoralUniversity of OregonEndocrinology
FellowshipUniversity of OregonHelen Hay Whitney postdoctoral fellow; Biology,Dr. Edward Herbert, mentor

Name of Award/HonorAwarding Organization
Elected to Connecticut Academy of Science and EngineeringConnecticut Academy of Science and Engineering
Merit Award DK-32948
Ernst Oppenheimer Award of the Endocrine Society
Vincent Du Vigneaud Award for Peptide Research by Young Investigators
Name & DescriptionCategoryRoleTypeScopeStart YearEnd Year
Gordon Conference on Peptide Biosynthesis, Organizing Committee; 1994- presentProfessional/Scientific OrganizationCommittee memberExternalNational20102012
ACS Chemical Neuroscience Professional/Scientific JournalBoard MemberExternalNational2009
Animal Services Advisory CommResearch CommitteeMemberUConn HealthUniversity2008
Neurosci Grad Prog Exec CommEducation CommitteeEx officioUConn HealthUniversity20042011
BMC Biochemistry Professional/Scientific JournalBoard MemberExternalNational20032008
Endocrine SocietyProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberExternalNational1981
Society for NeuroscienceProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberExternalNational1980
American Society for Cell BiologyProfessional/Scientific OrganizationMemberExternalNational1978
ScienceProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
CellProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
NeuronProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
NeuroendocrinologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
BiochemistryProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
J NeuroscienceProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
J Cell BiologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
J Cell ScienceProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
EndocrinologyProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
J Biological ChemistryProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
NeuroscienceProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
J NeurochemistryProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
J PhysiolProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
PNASProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
BMC NeuroscienceProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
ACS Chemical NeuroscienceProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
Biological PsychiatryProfessional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational
BMC Biochemistry Professional/Scientific JournalReviewerExternalNational

Bioactive peptides; vesicles; enzymes; tissue culture; secretion; drug abuse.

Nearly every neuron in the brain secretes a biologically active peptide at its target cells along with one or more conventional neurotransmitters; many neurons secrete several bioactive peptides. Diversity in bioactive peptides is created by the existence of multiple closely related gene products encoding similar but not identical peptides, and by distinct patterns in post-translational processing of the propeptide precursors, so that a single peptide precursor gives rise to distinct peptide products in distinct tissues. The enzymes involved in peptide processing, and questions of how the peptide precursors and enzymes manage to find each other, to get together in the same secretory granules, are one focus of this lab group. We use a number of immortal cell lines in culture which express an endocrine phenotype, and we culture primary neurons and endocrine cells which behave in culture as well as the cells which remain in the intact animal.

The cultured cells allow us to manipulate the environment and the genes expressed by the cells, often in ways impossible in the whole animal. We transfect cells to introduce or knock out genes of interest, or we use viral vectors to infect primary cells and force them to make proteins that nature never intended. We also produce, in large quantities in fibroblast cell lines and bacteria, the proteins we express in smaller amounts in neurons and endocrine cells, to enable detailed enzymology to be performed.

Drugs of abuse, notably stimulants like cocaine, are another area of interest. We are interested in what genes are turned on and off in response to drugs of abuse, and which genes may be part of long-term responses to drugs such as addiction and withdrawal.

Not accepting lab rotation students at this time

Journal Articles

Book Chapters

  • Peptidylglycine alpha-Amidating Monooxygenase (PAM)
    Vishwanatha KS, Mains RE, Eipper BA Handbook of Biologically Active Peptides 2013 Jan;Chapter 244
  • Peptides
    Mains RE, Eipper BA Basic Neurochemistry 2011 Jan;423-439
  • Neuropeptides: Synthesis and storage.
    Sobota JA, Eipper BA, Mains RE Encyclopedia of Neuroscience, Vol. 6 2007 Jan;829-836
  • Peptides
    Mains RE, Eipper BA Basic Neurochemistry, 7th Edition 2006 Jan;317-332
  • Peptides
    Mains RE, Eipper BA Basic Neurochemistry 2006 Jan;317-332
  • Amidation
    Bell, J, Eipper, BA, Mains, RE Encyclopedia of Endocrine Diseases, Vol 1 2004 Jan;188-191
  • Peptide Amidation.
    Niciu MJ, Mains RE and Eipper BA Encyclopedia of Biological Chemistry, Vol.3 2004 Jan;226-230
  • Peptidylglycine alpha-Amidating Monooxygenase (PAM).
    Steveson,RC, Bell,J, Mains,RE, Eipper,BA John Wiley Encyclopedia of Molecular Medicine, Vol 4 2002 Jan;2438-2441
  • Proopiomelanocortin synthesis and cell-specific processing
    Mains, RE, Eipper, BA Handbook of Physiology. Section 7: The Endocrine System, Volume IV: Coping with the Environment: Neural and Endocrine Mechanisms 2000 Jan;85-101
  • Neuropeptide Precursors.
    Eipper,BA and Mains,RE Elsevier’s Encyclopedia of Neuroscience 1999 Jan;1422-1423
  • Neuropeptide precursors.
    Eipper, B.A. and Mains, R.E. The Encyclopedia of Neuroscience 1997 Jan;
  • Cellular and molecular approaches to bioactive peptide processing.
    Mains,RE, Dickerson,IM, May,V, Stoffers,DA, Ouafik,L'H, Perkins,SN, Husten,EJ, Eipper,BA Frontiers in neuroendocrinology 1990 Jan;52-89
  • Cotranslational and posttranslational processing in the production of bioactive peptides.
    Eipper,BA, May,V, Cullen,EI, Sato,SM, Murthy,ASN, Mains,RE Psychopharmacology: The Third Generation of Progress 1987 Jan;386-400
  • Synthesis and secretion of ACTH, beta-endorphin, and related peptides.
    Mains,RE, Eipper,BA Neurosecretion and Brain Peptides 1981 Jan;35-47
  • Basal secretion of peptides derived from the ACTH/endorphin precursor by rat pituitary cells in culture.
    Eipper,BA, Mains,RE Brain and Pituitary Peptides 1980 Jan;12-20
  • Coordinate synthesis and release of corticotropin and endorphin.
    Mains,RE, Eipper,BA Endorphins in Mental Health Research 1978 Jan;143-156
  • Studies on the common precursor to ACTH and endorphin.
    Mains,RE, Eipper,BA Endorphins '78 1978 Jan;79-126


  • Peptidylglycine α-amidating monooxygenase as a therapeutic target or biomarker for human diseases.
    Merkler, David J; Hawley, Aidan J; Eipper, Betty A; Mains, Richard E British journal of pharmacology 2022 Feb;
  • Neuropeptide Synthesis and Storage.
    Sobota JA, Eipper BA, Mains RE Encyc of Neurosci 2009 Jan;6829-836
  • Kalirin: a dual Rho guanine nucleotide exchange factor that is so much more than the sum of its many parts.
    Rabiner, Chana A; Mains, Richard E; Eipper, Betty A The Neuroscientist : a review journal bringing neurobiology, neurology and psychiatry 2005 Apr;11(2):148-60
  • Kalirin: a dual Rho GEF that’s so much more than the sum of its many parts
    Rabiner CA, Mains RE, Eipper BA The Neuroscientist 2005 Jan;11148-160
  • Peptidylglycine alpha-amidating monooxygenase: a multifunctional protein with catalytic, processing and routing domains.
    Eipper,BA, Milgram,SL, Husten,EJ, Yun,H-Y, Mains,RE Prot Sci 1993 Jan;2489-497
  • The biosynthesis of neuropeptides: peptide alpha-amidation.
    Eipper,BA, Stoffers,DA, Mains,RE Annu Rev Neurosci 1992 Jan;1557-85
  • The role of ascorbate in the biosynthesis of neuroendocrine peptides.
    Eipper,BA, Mains,RE Am J Clin Nutr 1991 Jan;541153S-1156S
  • Peptide alpha-amidation.
    Eipper,BA, Mains,RE Annu Rev Physiol 1988 Jan;50333-344
  • Strategies for the biosynthesis of bioactive peptides.
    Mains,RE, Eipper,BA, Glembotski,CC, Dores,RM Trends Neurosci 1983 Jan;6229-235
  • Structure and biosynthesis of pro-adrenocorticotropin/endorphin and related peptides.
    Eipper, B A; Mains, R E Endocrine reviews 1980 Jan;1(1):1-27