Honors & Awards
Diabetes Knowledge Award, Stanford Diabetes Research Center (2019)
Pre-doctoral fellowship, Stanford Bio-X and Stanford Interdisciplinary Graduate Fellowship (SIGF) (2017)
Centennial Teaching Award, Stanford University - Office of the Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning (2016)
Program trainee, Stanford ChEM-H - Pre-doctoral Training Program at the Chemistry-Biology Interface (2015)
Education & Certifications
B.S., Ouachita Baptist University, Arkadelphia, Arkansas, Majors in Professional Chemistry and Physics, Minors in Mathematics and Biology (2014)
Justin Annes, Doctoral Dissertation Advisor (AC)
- Structure of the IFN gamma receptor complex guides design of biased agonists NATURE 2019; 567 (7746): 56-+
CC-401 Promotes β-Cell Replication via Pleiotropic Consequences of DYRK1A/B Inhibition.
Pharmacologic expansion of endogenous β-cells is a promising therapeutic strategy for diabetes. To elucidate the molecular pathways that control β-cell growth we screened ∼2,400 bioactive compounds for rat β-cell replication-modulating activity. Numerous hit compounds impaired or promoted rat β-cell replication, including CC-401, an advanced clinical candidate previously characterized as a c-Jun N-terminal kinase (JNK) inhibitor. Surprisingly, CC-401 induced rodent (in vitro and in vivo) and human (in vitro) β-cell replication via dual specificity tyrosine-phosphorylation-regulated kinases (DYRK1A/B) inhibition. In contrast to rat β-cells, which were broadly growth responsive to compound treatment, human β-cell replication was only consistently induced by DYRK1A/B inhibitors. This effect was enhanced by simultaneous glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) or transforming growth factor-β (ALK5/TGF-β) inhibition. Prior work emphasized DYRK1A/B inhibition-dependent activation of nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFAT) as the primary mechanism of human β-cell replication induction. However, inhibition of NFAT activity had limited impact on CC-401-induced β-cell replication. Consequently, we investigated additional effects of CC-401-dependent DYRK1A/B inhibition. Indeed, CC-401 inhibited DYRK1A-dependent phosphorylation/stabilization of the β-cell replication-inhibitor p27Kip1. Additionally, CC-401 increased expression of numerous replication-promoting genes normally suppressed by the dimerization partner, RB-like, E2F and multi-vulval class B (DREAM) complex, which depends upon DYRK1A/B activity for integrity, including MYBL2 and FOXM1. In summary, we present a compendium of compounds as a valuable resource for manipulating the signaling pathways that control β-cell replication and leverage a novel DYRK1A/B inhibitor (CC-401) to expand our understanding of the molecular pathways that control β-cell growth.
View details for PubMedID 29514186
Zinc-Chelating Small Molecules Preferentially Accumulate and Function within Pancreatic β Cells.
Cell chemical biology
Diabetes is a hyperglycemic condition characterized by pancreatic β-cell dysfunction and depletion. Whereas methods for monitoring β-cell function in vivo exist, methods to deliver therapeutics to β cells are lacking. We leveraged the rare ability of β cells to concentrate zinc to preferentially trap zinc-binding molecules within β cells, resulting in β-cell-targeted compound delivery. We determined that zinc-rich β cells and islets preferentially accumulated TSQ (6-methoxy-8-p-toluenesulfonamido-quinoline) in a zinc-dependent manner compared with exocrine pancreas. Next, we asked whether appending a zinc-chelating moiety onto a β-cell replication-inducing compound was sufficient to confer preferential β-cell accumulation and activity. Indeed, the hybrid compound preferentially accumulated within rodent and human islets in a zinc-dependent manner and increased the selectivity of replication-promoting activity toward β cells. These data resolve the fundamental question of whether intracellular accumulation of zinc-chelating compounds is influenced by zinc content. Furthermore, application of this principle yielded a proof-of-concept method for β-cell-targeted drug delivery and bioactivity.
View details for PubMedID 30527998
The IFN-lambda-IFN-lambda R1-IL-10R beta Complex Reveals Structural Features Underlying Type III IFN Functional Plasticity
2017; 46 (3): 379-392
Type III interferons (IFN-λs) signal through a heterodimeric receptor complex composed of the IFN-λR1 subunit, specific for IFN-λs, and interleukin-10Rβ (IL-10Rβ), which is shared by multiple cytokines in the IL-10 superfamily. Low affinity of IL-10Rβ for cytokines has impeded efforts aimed at crystallizing cytokine-receptor complexes. We used yeast surface display to engineer a higher-affinity IFN-λ variant, H11, which enabled crystallization of the ternary complex. The structure revealed that IL-10Rβ uses a network of tyrosine residues as hydrophobic anchor points to engage IL-10 family cytokines that present complementary hydrophobic binding patches, explaining its role as both a cross-reactive but cytokine-specific receptor. H11 elicited increased anti-proliferative and antiviral activities in vitro and in vivo. In contrast, engineered higher-affinity type I IFNs did not increase antiviral potency over wild-type type I IFNs. Our findings provide insight into cytokine recognition by the IL-10R family and highlight the plasticity of type III interferon signaling and its therapeutic potential.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.immuni.2017.02.017
View details for Web of Science ID 000396818100011
Modification by covalent reaction or oxidation of cysteine residues in the tandem-SH2 domains of ZAP-70 and Syk can block phosphopeptide binding
2015; 465: 149-161
Zeta-chain associated protein of 70 kDa (ZAP-70) and spleen tyrosine kinase (Syk) are non-receptor tyrosine kinases that are essential for T-cell and B-cell antigen receptor signalling respectively. They are recruited, via their tandem-SH2 (Src-homology domain 2) domains, to doubly phosphorylated immunoreceptor tyrosine-based activation motifs (ITAMs) on invariant chains of immune antigen receptors. Because of their critical roles in immune signalling, ZAP-70 and Syk are targets for the development of drugs for autoimmune diseases. We show that three thiol-reactive small molecules can prevent the tandem-SH2 domains of ZAP-70 and Syk from binding to phosphorylated ITAMs. We identify a specific cysteine residue in the phosphotyrosine-binding pocket of each protein (Cys39 in ZAP-70, Cys206 in Syk) that is necessary for inhibition by two of these compounds. We also find that ITAM binding to ZAP-70 and Syk is sensitive to the presence of H2O2 and these two cysteine residues are also necessary for inhibition by H2O2. Our findings suggest a mechanism by which the reactive oxygen species generated during responses to antigen could attenuate signalling through these kinases and may also inform the development of ZAP-70 and Syk inhibitors that bind covalently to their SH2 domains.
View details for DOI 10.1042/BJ20140793
View details for Web of Science ID 000351685300012
View details for PubMedID 25287889