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Chao Zhang

Associate Professor of Chemistry

B.S., 1998, Peking University
Ph.D. 2004, Princeton University
Office: TRF 114A
Phone: (213) 740-7040
 Group Homepage

Research Focus


Research in the Zhang lab centers on the development and application of chemical modulators of signaling proteins, in particular those involved in cancer and autoimmunity. The goal is to achieve a better understanding of normal and aberrant signaling and accelerate the development of novel therapeutics for these human diseases. A combination of structural bioinformatics, molecular design and protein engineering will be employed in our study.

Postdoctoral Position opening: we are seeking self-motivated individuals with PhD in Chemistry, Biochemistry or Cell Biology to join the lab.

Selected publications


Assadieskandar, A., Yu, C., Maisonneuve, P., Liu, X., Chen, Y. C., Prakash, G.K.S.,  Kurinov, I., Sicheri, F., Zhang, C., Effects of Rigidity on the Selectivity of Protein Kinase Inhibitors. European Journal of Medicinal Chemistry2018, 146, 519-528. Link

Chen, X., Wang, R., Liu, X., Zhou, T., Yang, Y., Perez, A., Assadieskandar, A., Chen, Y. C., Zhang, C., and Ying, Q. L.,  A Chemical-Genetic Approach Reveals Distinct Roles of GSK3α and GSK3β in Regulating Embryonic Stem Cell Fate. Developmental Cell. 201743, (5), 563-76. Link

Ni, F., Kung, A., Duan, Y., Shah, V., Amador, C., Guo, M., Fan, X., Chen, L., Chen, Y., McKenna, C. E., and Zhang, C., Remarkably Stereospecific Utilization of ATP α,β-halomethylene Analogues by Protein Kinases. Journal of the American Chemical Society2017, 139, (23), 7701-04. Link

Liu, K., Niu, Y., Konishi, M., Wu, F., Du, H., Chung, H. S., Li, L., Boudsocq, M., McCormack, M., Maekawa, S., Ishida, T., Zhang, C., Shokat, K. M., Yanagisawa, S., and Sheen, J. Discovery of nitrate-CPK-NLP signalling in central nutrient-growth networks. Nature 2017, 545, (7654), 311-16. Link

Kung, A., Schimpl, M., Ekanayake, A., Chen, Y. C., Overman, R. & Zhang, C., A Chemical-Genetic Approach to Generate Selective Covalent Inhibitors of Protein Kinases. ACS Chemical Biology2017, 12, (6), 1499-503. Link

Chen, Y. C., Backus, K. M., Merkulova, M., Yang, C., Brown, D., Cravatt, B. F. & Zhang, C., Covalent Modulators of the Vacuolar ATPase. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2017. 139, (2), 639-42. Link

Zhao, J., Zheng, Y., Xu, S., Chen, J., Shen, G., Yu, C., Knipe, D., Yuan, W., Peng, J., Xu, W., Zhang, C., Xia, Z. & Feng, P., A Viral Deamidase Targets the Helicase Domain of RIG-I to Block RNA-Induced Activation. Cell Host Microbe. 2016, 20,(6), 770-784. Link

Kung, A., Chen, Y. C., Schimpl, M., Ni, F., Zhu, J., Turner, M., Molina, H., Overman, R. & Zhang, C., Development of Specific, Irreversible Inhibitors for a Receptor Tyrosine Kinase EphB3. Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2016, 138(33):10554-60, Link

Chen, Y. C. and Zhang, C., A method for pulling down and identifying cellular targets of covalent kinase inhibitors. Genes & Cancer. 2016, 7, (5-6), 148-53. Link

Liu, X., Kung, A., Malinoski, B., Prakash, G.K.S. & Zhang, C., "Development of Alkyne-Containing Pyrazolopyrimidines to Overcome Drug Resistance of Bcr-Abl Kinase"  Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 2015, 58, (23), 9228-37. Link

Hwang, C., Kung, A., Kashemirov, B., Zhang, C. & McKenna, C., "5’-β,γ-CHF-ATP Diastereomers: Synthesis and Fluorine-Mediated Selective Binding by c-Src Protein Kinase"  Organic Letters.  2015, 17, (7), 1624-7. Link

Xu, L., Chen, Y.C., Chong, J., Fin, A., McCoy, L.S., Xu, J., Zhang, C., and Wang, D., Pyrene-Based Quantitative Detection of the 5-Formylcytosine Loci Symmetry in the CpG Duplex Content during TET-Dependent Demethylation. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. Engl. 2014, 53, (42), 11223-7. Link

Xu, L., Chen, Y. C., Nakajima, S., Chong, J., Wang, L., Lan, L., Zhang, C., and Wang, D., A chemical probe targets DNA 5-formylcytosine sites and inhibits TDG excision, polymerases bypass, and gene expression. Chemical Science  2014, 5, (2), 567-74. Link

Zhang, C., Lopez, M. S., Dar, A. C., Ladow, E., Finkbeiner, S., Yun, C. H., Eck, M. J., and Shokat, K. M., Structure-Guided Inhibitor Design Expands the Scope of Analog-Sensitive Kinase Technology. ACS Chem. Biol.  2013, 8, (9), 1931-8. Link


Selected Previous Publications:

Poulikakos, P.I.; Zhang, C.; Bollag, G.; Shokat, K.M. & Rosen, N.  RAF inhibitors transactivate RAF dimers and ERK signalling in cells with wild-type BRAF. Nature 2010, 464(7287), 427-30.

Lourido, S., Shuman, J., Zhang, C., Shokat, K.M., Hui, R. & Sibley, L.D.  Calcium-dependent protein kinase 1 is an essential regulator of exocytosis in Toxoplasma. Nature 2010, 465(7296), 359-62.

Korennykh, A.V., Egea, P.F., Korostelev, A.A., Finer-Moore, J., Zhang, C., Shokat, K.M., Stroud, R.M. & Walter, P.  The unfolded protein response signals through high-order assembly of Ire1. Nature 2009, 457(7230), 687-93.

Zhang, C. & Shokat, K.M.  Enhanced selectivity for inhibition of analog-sensitive protein kinases through scaffold optimization. Tetrahedron 2007, 63(26), 5832-5838.

Zhang, C., Kenski, D.M., Paulson, J.L., Bonshtien, A., Sessa, G., Cross, J.V., Templeton, D.J. & Shokat, K.M.  A second-site suppressor strategy for chemical genetic analysis of diverse protein kinases. Nature Methods 2005, 2(6), 435-41.

Cohen, M. S.; Zhang, C.; Shokat, K. M.; Taunton, J. Structural bioinformatics-based design of selective, irreversible kinase inhibitors. Science 2005, 308(5726), 1318-21.

Papa, F.R., Zhang, C., Shokat, K. & Walter, P.  Bypassing a kinase activity with an ATP-competitive drug. Science 2003, 302(5650), 1533-7. 

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