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
  • We’ve seen it in science fiction: The aliens begin terra-forming a planet to create a friendly habitat that gives them, not the inhabitants, all the advantages when the colonization begins. Turns out, cancer does essentially the same thing when it metastasizes, according to new research from City of Hope. The f...
  • Equipping the immune system to fight cancer – a disease that thrives on mutations and circumventing the body’s natural defenses – is within reach. In fact, City of Hope researchers are testing one approach in clinical trials now. Scientists take a number of steps to turn cancer patients’ T cells – white b...
  • As treatments for lung cancer become more targeted and effective, the need for better technology to detect lung cancer mutations becomes increasingly important. A new clinical study at City of Hope is examining the feasibility of using blood and urine tests to detect lung cancer mutations, potentially allowing ...
  • When it comes to breast cancer risk, insulin levels may matter more than weight, new research has found. The study from Imperial College London School of Public Health, published in the journal Cancer Research, indicates that metabolic health – not a person’s weight or body mass index – increases breast cancer ...
  • No one ever plans to have cancer – and there’s never a good time. For Homa Sadat, her cancer came at a particularly bad time: just one year after losing her father to the pancreatic cancer he had battled for two years. She was working a grueling schedule managing three commercial office buildings. She’d just [&...
  • Patients at City of Hope – most of whom are fighting cancer – rely on more than 37,000 units of blood and platelets each year for their treatment and survival. Every one of those units comes from family, friends or someone who traded an hour or so of their time and a pint of their […]
  • Surgery is vital in the treatment of cancer – it’s used to help diagnose, treat and even prevent the disease – so a new colorectal cancer study linking a decrease in surgeries for advanced cancer to increased survival rates may raise more questions than it answers for some patients. The surgery-and-surviv...
  • Age is the single greatest risk factor overall for cancer; our chances of developing the disease rise steeply after age 50. For geriatric oncology nurse Peggy Burhenn, the meaning is clear: Cancer is primarily a geriatric condition. That’s why she is forging inroads in the care of older adults with cancer. Burh...
  • One of American’s great sportscasters, Stuart Scott, passed away from recurrent cancer of the appendix at the young age of 49. His cancer was diagnosed when he was only 40 years old. It was found during an operation for appendicitis. His courageous fight against this disease began in 2007, resumed again with an...
  • When Homa Sadat found a lump in her breast at age 27, her gynecologist told her what many doctors say to young women: You’re too young to have breast cancer. With the lump dismissed as a harmless cyst, she didn’t think about it again until she was at a restaurant six months later and felt […]
  • What most people call a “bone marrow transplant” is not actually a transplant of bone marrow; it is instead the transplantation of what’s known as hematopoietic stem cells. Such cells are often taken from bone marrow, but not always. Hematopoietic stem cells are simply immature cells that can ...
  • Doctors have long known that women with a precancerous condition called atypical hyperplasia have an elevated risk of breast cancer. Now a new study has found that the risk is more serious than previously thought. Hyperplasia itself is an overgrowth of cells; atypical hyperplasia is an overgrowth in a distorted...
  • Don’t kid yourself. Just because it’s mid-January doesn’t mean it’s too late to make resolutions for a happier, and healthier, 2015. Just consider them resolutions that are more mature than those giddy, sometimes self-deluded, Jan. 1 resolutions. To that end, we share some advice from Cary A. Presant, M.D., an ...
  • Sales and marketing executive Jim Murphy first came to City of Hope in 2002 to donate blood for a friend who was being treated for esophageal cancer. The disease is serious. Although esophageal cancer accounts for only about 1 percent of cancer diagnoses in the U.S., only about 20 percent of patients survive at...
  • Aaron Bomar and his family were celebrating his daughter’s 33rd birthday in September 2014 when he received alarming news: According to an X-ray taken earlier that day at an urgent care facility, he had a node on his aorta and was in danger of an aneurysm. Bomar held hands with his wife and daughter and s...