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
  • To celebrate the beginning of Lunar New  Year 2015, City of Hope honored not just a new lunar calendar, but also the diversity of the community it serves. On Jan. 21, as tens of thousands of people celebrated Lunar New Year (and the arrival of the Year of the Ram) in the streets of L.A.’s Chinatown, City of [&#...
  • The breakthroughs that have revolutionized cancer treatment, transforming cancer in many cases to a very manageable and even curable disease, started out as just ideas. “I will often tell patients there’s no therapy we’re using to help them that wasn’t derived from somebody’s idea in some laboratory, working la...
  • The prostate cancer screening debate, at least as it relates to regular assessment of prostate specific antigen levels, is far from over. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommended against routine PSA screening for prostate cancer in 2012, maintaining that the routine use of the PSA blood test does mor...
  • Cancer patients should get more than medical treatment. They should get comprehensive, evidence-based care that addresses their full range of needs. That kind of patient-focused care is City of Hope’s specialty. Under the guidance of Dawn Gross, M.D., Ph.D., the new Arthur M. Coppola Family Chair in Suppo...
  • Think twice before tossing out those hormone replacement pills. Although a new Lancet study suggests that hormone replacement therapy could increase a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer, a City of Hope expert urges women to keep this news in perspective. Hormone replacement therapy is prescribed to help allev...
  • Don’t know what to take, or send, that friend of yours in the hospital? Try a paper plate — filled not with cookies or sweets, but an image of yourself. Ilana Massi, currently undergoing treatment at City of Hope for acute myeloid leukemia, can vouch for the power of such a gift. She’s surrounded herself [̷...
  • With precision medicine now a national priority, City of Hope has joined a novel research partnership designed to further understanding of cancer at the molecular level, ultimately leading to more targeted cancer treatments. The Oncology Research Information Exchange Network, or ORIEN, is the world’s larg...
  • The spinal cord is an integral part of the human body, connecting the brain to everything else. So when a tumor grows on the spine, any messages that the brain tries to send to the rest of the body are interrupted, making everyday tasks — such as walking — more difficult. This year an estimated 22,850 […]
  • Each year, thousands of patients with hematologic malignancies undergo allogeneic stem cell transplantation (that is, they receive a donor’s stem cells), offering them a chance at cure. Graft-versus-host disease is a potentially deadly complication of this therapy and occurs in approximately 25 to 60 perc...
  • Bertram Yuh, M.D., assistant clinical professor in the Division of Urology and Urologic Oncology at City of Hope, offers his perspective on the benefits of surgery for aggressive prostate cancer. For men walking out of the doctor’s office after a diagnosis of cancer, the reality can hit like a ton of bricks. Th...
  • Although many Hispanic women face a high risk of mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes – increasing their risk of breast and ovarian cancer – screenings for these mutations can be prohibitively expensive in Mexico and other Latin American countries. As a result, too many women don’t get the information t...
  • Providing lung cancer treatments to patients when their cancer is at its earliest and most treatable stages will now be a more attainable goal: Medicare has agreed to cover lung cancer screening for those beneficiaries who meet the requirements. The only proven way to detect lung cancer early enough to save liv...
  • At City of Hope, innovative scientific research, important clinical studies and vital construction projects are all powered by philanthropy. Generous supporters fuel a powerful and diverse range of progress in science and medicine, enabling researchers and clinicians to improve cancer treatments and create cure...
  • Trevor Hoffman was only 21 when he was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer, but not even cancer could keep him off his motorcycles. (He has one for racing, and a couple just for fun.) Now a cancer survivor, Hoffman, who lives in La Verne, California, wrapped up his treatment Jan. 19 – just one day […]
  • Valentine’s Day is synonymous with dinner reservations, red roses, heart-shaped boxes of chocolates and — more often than not — unrealistically high expectations. Managing those expectations is great advice for all couples on Feb. 14 — and is especially important for couples confronting a cancer diagnosis. Focu...