A National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center

Make an appointment: 800-826-HOPE
Chen, Yuan , Ph.D. Bookmark and Share

Yuan Chen, Ph.D. Research

 
Ubiquitin-like Modifications
Our current research interest is in protein modifications by a family of small proteins known as ubiquitin and its homologues. These modifications control life spans, trafficking, assembly and enzymatic activities of cellular proteins, and are important in nearly every aspect of biological functions. We employ a combination of structural, biochemical, molecular and cellular biological methods to understand these processes in cellular regulation and disease pathogenesis. Specific areas of interest are outlined below.

The Role of SUMOylation in Oncogenesis
Post-translational modifications by the small ubiquitin-like modifiers (SUMO) are important in oncogenesis and cellular response to DNA damage. Recent findings indicate that the key oncogenic pathways driven by Myc and KRas are dependent on, or addicted to, SUMOylation. For example, knocking down of the gene encoding the catalytic subunit of the SUMO activating enzyme (SAE), SAE2, has the strongest synthetic lethal interaction with Myc hyperactivation. We are investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying the synthetic lethality of SUMOylation with Myc hyperactivation and KRas mutations. In addition, we are investigating the structure-activity relationship of how the inhibitors interact with the SAE and inhibit its enzymatic activity, and use this information to guide further improvement of the inhibitors. These studies could potentially improve treatment of many cancers, as overexpression of Myc is estimated to contribute to 70 percent of all human cancers, and KRas is also frequently mutated in human cancers.

SUMO Modifications and HIV Replication
SUMO-specific proteases (SENP) regulate post-translational modifications by SUMO through catalyzing the maturation of SUMO precursors and the removal of SUMO from modified proteins. Small molecule inhibitors of SENPs that function in cells would be valuable tools for elucidating the functions of SENPs. We have recently identified a family of small molecule inhibitors of SENPs that inhibit de-SUMOylation activities in cells. Coincidently, these small molecules had been shown to confer anti-HIV activities in a National Cancer Institute antiviral screen, although the cellular targets and the mechanism of inhibition of HIV were unknown. We are investigating the molecular mechanism of how SUMOylation is involved in HIV life cycle. In addition, we are conducting the structure-activity relationship studies of how these inhibitors interact with the SENPs and inhibit their enzymatic activity, and use this information to develop improved inhibitors. Furthermore, we are interested in exploiting this pathway to develop a potential strategy for a cure of HIV by allowing the immune system to target HIV infected cells without producing infectious virus.

NMR-based Metabolomics
Metabolic activity is a reflection of cellular functions. Our laboratory utilizes nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy as tools for metabolomic studies, that is, global analysis of metabolic activities. Our goal is to provide information on cellular pathways to understand metabolic dysfunctions of cancer cells.

Application of NMR Methods in Drug Discovery
We are collaborating with several other laboratories with expertise in synthetic chemistry, molecular biology and medical oncology to develop new therapeutics for cancer. State-of-the-art NMR methods are employed to provide information on protein-ligand interactions at an atomic resolution; information that is critical for the rational design of new therapeutics.
 
Representative Publications:
 
Gold nanoparticles as a platform for creating a multivalent poly-SUMO chain inhibitor that also augments ionizing radiation
YJ Li, AL Perkins, Y Su, Y Ma, L Colson, DA Horne, Y Chen
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109 (11), 4092-4097, 2012
 
The intrinsic affinity between E2 and the Cys domain of E1 in ubiquitin-like modifications
J Wang, W Hu, S Cai, B Lee, J Song, Y Chen
Molecular cell 27 (2), 228-237, 2007
 
Identification of a SUMO-binding motif that recognizes SUMO-modified proteins
Jing Song, Linda K Durrin, Thomas A Wilkinson, Theodore G Krontiris, Yuan Chen
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101 (40), 14373-14378, 2004
 
More publications can be found at:
http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=zgAR9fsAAAAJ&hl=en
 

Yuan Chen, Ph.D. Facilities

NMR Facility
 
Computers and Software
  • Six Linex workstations
  • Two multi-processor servers
  • Software include: InsightII, FELIX, NMRVIEW, NMRDRAW, PIPE, MOLMOL, DYANA, CNS, ARIA, HADDOCK and AMBER.
 
Other Shared Equipment
  • Isothermal titration calorimeter
  • Jasco CD instrument
  • Automated Applied Biosystems (AB) Procise Protein Sequencing System for N-terminal Edman degradation
  • A Perkin Applied Biosystems Procise C-terminal sequencer and a Hewlett Packard C-terminal sequencer
  • Dionex AAA Direct amino acid analyzer
  • HPLC systems suitable for narrow-bore and microcapillary chromatography and equipped for detection of peptides at 214 nm as well as variable wavelength fluorescence detection
  • Pharmacia FPLC for protein purification
  • Perkin-Elmer FTIR
  • Hitachi UV/VIS Spectrophotometer
  • Pharmacia BIAcoreTM System
  • PerSeptive Biosystems BioCAD/SPRINT
  • Bio-Rad scanning Densitometer
  • Three Thermo Finnigan LCQ family ion traps (two Classic and one Deca) equipped with electrospray/LC sources.
  • An Applied Biosystems Mariner electrospray (ES) Orthogonal TOF spectrometer
  • Applied Biosystems Voyager DE STR MALDI-TOF spectrometer
  • Scintillation and gamma counters
  • Wallac Micro Beta counter
  • Tomtec 96-well plate harvester
 

Lab Members

 
Current Lab Members

Shannon Maldonado
Senior Administrative Analyst
 
Ramir Vega
Research Associate
 
Grace Aldana-Masangkay, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
 
Aileen Alontaga, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
 
Nigus D Ambaye, Ph.D.
Research Fellow

Chih-Hong Chen, Ph.D.
Research Fellow

Li Du, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
 
Yi-Jia Li, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist
 
Alumni

Postdoctoral fellows
Yate-Ching Yuan, Ph.D.
Director of the Bioinformatic Core Facility at Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope

Maria Victoria Botuyan, Ph.D.
Staff scientist at Mayo Clinic, MN, USA

Jerry Hu, Ph.D.
Manager, Materials Research Laboratory Spectroscopy Facility, UC Santa Barbara

Donghai Lin, Ph.D.
Professor at Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

Suhkmann Kim, Ph.D.
Associate Professor at Pusan National University, Korea. 

Sheng Cai, Ph.D.
Director of the NMR laboratory at Marquette University, Wisconsin, USA

Lingyang Zhu, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist, Array BioPharma Inc. Boulder, CO

Thomas Wilkinson, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist, UCLA

Xuanjun Ai, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Charalampos Kalodimos at Rutgers University
 
Ikenna Madu, Ph.D.
Scientist Kineta, Inc, Seattle, WA
 
Yang Su, Ph.D.
Beijing, China
 
Jianghai Wang, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist, BostonBiochem, MA, USA
 
Yifei Li, Ph.D.
NCI at Frederick, Frederick, MD
 
Graduate students
Ziming Zhang, Ph.D. (2004)
Director of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Core, University of South Florida

Jing Song, Ph.D. (2006)
Jing spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Timothy Springer at Harvard Medical School, and now is group leader at BioDuro.

Khue Truong, Ph.D. (2012)
Post doctoral fellow at UCLA.

Research technicians
Qin Liu, M.S., Biomolecular NMR Facility manager, Department of Biochemistry, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Candace Seu, Ph.D. student, UC San Diego

Lisa Fukui, M.D/Ph.D. student, University of Illinois at Urbane Champion

Brian Lee, medical student, SUNY Stony Brook

Larry Tong, medical student, University of Nebraska

Steven Wong, medical student, UCLA
 

Yuan Chen, Ph.D. NvMap Agreement Download

Academic (nonprofit) License Agreement
 
Please send two signed originals of the license agreement to:
 
City of Hope
1500 East Duarte Road
Duarte, California 91010
Attn.:  Director, Office of Technology Licensing
Fax: 626-301-8175
 
With a copy to:
 
Dr. Yuan Chen
Department of Molecular Medicine
City of Hope
1500 East Duarte Road
Duarte, California 91010
Fax: 626-301-8186
 
Industry License Agreement
 
For more information please contact:
 
Matthew Grunseth, M.B.S.
Technology Licensing Manager
mgrunseth@coh.org
 

Chen, Yuan , Ph.D.

Yuan Chen, Ph.D. Research

 
Ubiquitin-like Modifications
Our current research interest is in protein modifications by a family of small proteins known as ubiquitin and its homologues. These modifications control life spans, trafficking, assembly and enzymatic activities of cellular proteins, and are important in nearly every aspect of biological functions. We employ a combination of structural, biochemical, molecular and cellular biological methods to understand these processes in cellular regulation and disease pathogenesis. Specific areas of interest are outlined below.

The Role of SUMOylation in Oncogenesis
Post-translational modifications by the small ubiquitin-like modifiers (SUMO) are important in oncogenesis and cellular response to DNA damage. Recent findings indicate that the key oncogenic pathways driven by Myc and KRas are dependent on, or addicted to, SUMOylation. For example, knocking down of the gene encoding the catalytic subunit of the SUMO activating enzyme (SAE), SAE2, has the strongest synthetic lethal interaction with Myc hyperactivation. We are investigating the molecular mechanisms underlying the synthetic lethality of SUMOylation with Myc hyperactivation and KRas mutations. In addition, we are investigating the structure-activity relationship of how the inhibitors interact with the SAE and inhibit its enzymatic activity, and use this information to guide further improvement of the inhibitors. These studies could potentially improve treatment of many cancers, as overexpression of Myc is estimated to contribute to 70 percent of all human cancers, and KRas is also frequently mutated in human cancers.

SUMO Modifications and HIV Replication
SUMO-specific proteases (SENP) regulate post-translational modifications by SUMO through catalyzing the maturation of SUMO precursors and the removal of SUMO from modified proteins. Small molecule inhibitors of SENPs that function in cells would be valuable tools for elucidating the functions of SENPs. We have recently identified a family of small molecule inhibitors of SENPs that inhibit de-SUMOylation activities in cells. Coincidently, these small molecules had been shown to confer anti-HIV activities in a National Cancer Institute antiviral screen, although the cellular targets and the mechanism of inhibition of HIV were unknown. We are investigating the molecular mechanism of how SUMOylation is involved in HIV life cycle. In addition, we are conducting the structure-activity relationship studies of how these inhibitors interact with the SENPs and inhibit their enzymatic activity, and use this information to develop improved inhibitors. Furthermore, we are interested in exploiting this pathway to develop a potential strategy for a cure of HIV by allowing the immune system to target HIV infected cells without producing infectious virus.

NMR-based Metabolomics
Metabolic activity is a reflection of cellular functions. Our laboratory utilizes nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy as tools for metabolomic studies, that is, global analysis of metabolic activities. Our goal is to provide information on cellular pathways to understand metabolic dysfunctions of cancer cells.

Application of NMR Methods in Drug Discovery
We are collaborating with several other laboratories with expertise in synthetic chemistry, molecular biology and medical oncology to develop new therapeutics for cancer. State-of-the-art NMR methods are employed to provide information on protein-ligand interactions at an atomic resolution; information that is critical for the rational design of new therapeutics.
 
Representative Publications:
 
Gold nanoparticles as a platform for creating a multivalent poly-SUMO chain inhibitor that also augments ionizing radiation
YJ Li, AL Perkins, Y Su, Y Ma, L Colson, DA Horne, Y Chen
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109 (11), 4092-4097, 2012
 
The intrinsic affinity between E2 and the Cys domain of E1 in ubiquitin-like modifications
J Wang, W Hu, S Cai, B Lee, J Song, Y Chen
Molecular cell 27 (2), 228-237, 2007
 
Identification of a SUMO-binding motif that recognizes SUMO-modified proteins
Jing Song, Linda K Durrin, Thomas A Wilkinson, Theodore G Krontiris, Yuan Chen
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 101 (40), 14373-14378, 2004
 
More publications can be found at:
http://scholar.google.com/citations?user=zgAR9fsAAAAJ&hl=en
 

Facilities

Yuan Chen, Ph.D. Facilities

NMR Facility
 
Computers and Software
  • Six Linex workstations
  • Two multi-processor servers
  • Software include: InsightII, FELIX, NMRVIEW, NMRDRAW, PIPE, MOLMOL, DYANA, CNS, ARIA, HADDOCK and AMBER.
 
Other Shared Equipment
  • Isothermal titration calorimeter
  • Jasco CD instrument
  • Automated Applied Biosystems (AB) Procise Protein Sequencing System for N-terminal Edman degradation
  • A Perkin Applied Biosystems Procise C-terminal sequencer and a Hewlett Packard C-terminal sequencer
  • Dionex AAA Direct amino acid analyzer
  • HPLC systems suitable for narrow-bore and microcapillary chromatography and equipped for detection of peptides at 214 nm as well as variable wavelength fluorescence detection
  • Pharmacia FPLC for protein purification
  • Perkin-Elmer FTIR
  • Hitachi UV/VIS Spectrophotometer
  • Pharmacia BIAcoreTM System
  • PerSeptive Biosystems BioCAD/SPRINT
  • Bio-Rad scanning Densitometer
  • Three Thermo Finnigan LCQ family ion traps (two Classic and one Deca) equipped with electrospray/LC sources.
  • An Applied Biosystems Mariner electrospray (ES) Orthogonal TOF spectrometer
  • Applied Biosystems Voyager DE STR MALDI-TOF spectrometer
  • Scintillation and gamma counters
  • Wallac Micro Beta counter
  • Tomtec 96-well plate harvester
 

Lab Members and Alumni

Lab Members

 
Current Lab Members

Shannon Maldonado
Senior Administrative Analyst
 
Ramir Vega
Research Associate
 
Grace Aldana-Masangkay, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
 
Aileen Alontaga, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
 
Nigus D Ambaye, Ph.D.
Research Fellow

Chih-Hong Chen, Ph.D.
Research Fellow

Li Du, Ph.D.
Research Fellow
 
Yi-Jia Li, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist
 
Alumni

Postdoctoral fellows
Yate-Ching Yuan, Ph.D.
Director of the Bioinformatic Core Facility at Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope

Maria Victoria Botuyan, Ph.D.
Staff scientist at Mayo Clinic, MN, USA

Jerry Hu, Ph.D.
Manager, Materials Research Laboratory Spectroscopy Facility, UC Santa Barbara

Donghai Lin, Ph.D.
Professor at Shanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of Sciences. 

Suhkmann Kim, Ph.D.
Associate Professor at Pusan National University, Korea. 

Sheng Cai, Ph.D.
Director of the NMR laboratory at Marquette University, Wisconsin, USA

Lingyang Zhu, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist, Array BioPharma Inc. Boulder, CO

Thomas Wilkinson, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist, UCLA

Xuanjun Ai, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral fellow with Dr. Charalampos Kalodimos at Rutgers University
 
Ikenna Madu, Ph.D.
Scientist Kineta, Inc, Seattle, WA
 
Yang Su, Ph.D.
Beijing, China
 
Jianghai Wang, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist, BostonBiochem, MA, USA
 
Yifei Li, Ph.D.
NCI at Frederick, Frederick, MD
 
Graduate students
Ziming Zhang, Ph.D. (2004)
Director of the Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Core, University of South Florida

Jing Song, Ph.D. (2006)
Jing spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow with Professor Timothy Springer at Harvard Medical School, and now is group leader at BioDuro.

Khue Truong, Ph.D. (2012)
Post doctoral fellow at UCLA.

Research technicians
Qin Liu, M.S., Biomolecular NMR Facility manager, Department of Biochemistry, University of Western Ontario, Canada

Candace Seu, Ph.D. student, UC San Diego

Lisa Fukui, M.D/Ph.D. student, University of Illinois at Urbane Champion

Brian Lee, medical student, SUNY Stony Brook

Larry Tong, medical student, University of Nebraska

Steven Wong, medical student, UCLA
 

Agreement Download

Yuan Chen, Ph.D. NvMap Agreement Download

Academic (nonprofit) License Agreement
 
Please send two signed originals of the license agreement to:
 
City of Hope
1500 East Duarte Road
Duarte, California 91010
Attn.:  Director, Office of Technology Licensing
Fax: 626-301-8175
 
With a copy to:
 
Dr. Yuan Chen
Department of Molecular Medicine
City of Hope
1500 East Duarte Road
Duarte, California 91010
Fax: 626-301-8186
 
Industry License Agreement
 
For more information please contact:
 
Matthew Grunseth, M.B.S.
Technology Licensing Manager
mgrunseth@coh.org
 
Our Scientists

Our research laboratories are led by the best and brightest minds in scientific research.
 

Beckman Research Institute of City of Hope is internationally  recognized for its innovative biomedical research.
City of Hope is one of only 41 Comprehensive Cancer Centers in the country, the highest designation awarded by the National Cancer Institute to institutions that lead the way in cancer research, treatment, prevention and professional education.
Learn more about City of Hope's institutional distinctions, breakthrough innovations and collaborations.
Develop new therapies, diagnostics and preventions in the fight against cancer and other life-threatening diseases.
 
Support Our Research
By giving to City of Hope, you support breakthrough discoveries in laboratory research that translate into lifesaving treatments for patients with cancer and other serious diseases.
 
 
 
 


NEWS & UPDATES
  • The body’s immune system is usually adept at attacking outside invaders such as bacteria and viruses. But because cancer originates from the body’s own cells, the immune system can fail to see it as foreign. As a result, the body’s most powerful ally can remain largely idle against cancer as the disease progres...
  • On Jan. 1, 2015, five City of Hope patients who have journeyed through cancer will welcome the new year with their loved ones atop City of Hope’s Tournament of Roses Parade float. The theme of the float is “Made Possible by HOPE.” The theme of the parade is “Inspiring Stories.” Her...
  • Are you thinking about switching from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes for the Great American Smokeout? Are you thinking that might be a better option than the traditional quit-smoking route? Think again. For lung expert Brian Tiep, M.D., the dislike and distrust he feels for e-cigs comes down to this: Th...
  • Hematologist Robert Chen, M.D., is boosting scientific discovery at City of Hope and, by extension, across the nation. Just ask the National Cancer Institute. The institution recently awarded Chen the much-sought-after Clinical Investigator Team Leadership Award for boosting scientific discovery at City of Hope...
  • Great strides have been made in treating cancer – including lung cancer – but by the time people show symptoms of the disease, the cancer has usually advanced. That’s because, at early stages, lung cancer has no symptoms. Only recently has lung cancer screening become an option. (Read more about the risks...
  • Identifying cures for currently incurable diseases and providing patients with safe, fast and potentially lifesaving treatments is the focus of City of Hope’s new Alpha Clinic for Cell Therapy and Innovation (ACT-I). The clinic is funded by an $8 million, five-year grant from the California Institute for Regene...
  • Cancer is a couple’s disease. It affects not just the person diagnosed, but his or her partner as well. It also affects the ability of both people to communicate effectively. The Couples Coping with Cancer Together program at City of Hope teaches couples how to communicate and solve problems as a unit. He...
  • Chemotherapy drugs work by either killing cancer cells or by stopping them from multiplying, that is, dividing. Some of the more powerful drugs used to treat cancer do their job by interfering with the cancer cells’ DNA and RNA growth, preventing them from copying themselves and dividing. Such drugs, however, l...
  • During October, everything seems to turn pink – clothing, the NFL logo, tape dispensers, boxing gloves, blenders, soup cans, you name it – in order to raise awareness for what many believe is the most dangerous cancer that affects women: breast cancer. But, in addition to thinking pink, women should...
  • In February 2003, when she was only 16 months old, Maya Gallardo was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia (AML) and, to make matters much worse, pneumonia. The pneumonia complicated what was already destined to be grueling treatment regimen. To assess the extent of her illness, Maya had to endure a spinal ...
  • Former smokers age 55 to 74 who rely on Medicare for health care services have just received a long-hoped-for announcement. Under a proposed decision from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, they’ll now have access to lung cancer screening with a low-dose CT scan. The proposed decision, announ...
  • City of Hope has a longstanding commitment to combating diabetes, a leading national and global health threat. Already, it’s scored some successes, from research that led to the development of synthetic human insulin – still used by millions of patients – to potentially lifesaving islet cell transplants. Diabet...
  • Dee Hunt never smoked. Neither did her five sisters and brothers. They didn’t have exposure to radon or asbestos, either. That didn’t prevent every one of them from being diagnosed with lung cancer. Their parents were smokers, but they’d all left home more than 30 years before any of them were diagn...
  • They may not talk about it, but women with cancers in the pelvic region, such as cervical cancer, bladder cancer and uterine cancer, often have problems controlling their urine, bowel or flatus. Although they may feel isolated, they’re far from alone. Many other women have such problems, too. In fact, nea...
  • Cancer that spreads to the liver poses a significant threat to patients, and a great challenge to surgeons. The organ’s anatomical complexity and its maze of blood vessels make removal of tumors difficult, even for specialized liver cancer surgeons. Following chemotherapy, the livers of cancer patients are not ...