Uhn-Soo Cho, Ph.D

Assistant Professor, Biological Chemistry
Assistant Professor, Biophysics

4220E MSRB3, Box 5606



Biological Chemistry, Medical School
Biophysics, College of LS&A
Chemical Biology, College of LS&A
Cellular & Molecular Biology, Medical School

Areas of Interest

Kinetochore and centromere biology        

The kinetochore is a large macromolecular assembly that physically connects the centromere to spindle microtubules to ensure accurate distribution of sister chromatids to daughter cells during mitosis. Malfunction of the kinetochore results in genome instability, which has been implicated in many types of cancers. Cancer cells tolerate a small degree of genome instability, but cannot withstand high genomic instability. Therefore, perturbation of kinetochore assembly has long been an approach for preventing cancer cell proliferation. We have a long-standing interest in establishing the structural-functional relationship between kinetochore components. With a complete picture of the intact kinetochore, we will formulate a foundation for new cancer drug discoveries. We focus on fission yeast as a model organism due to its ease of genetic manipulation and protein crystallization with a conservation of key human kinetochore components. We have in vitro reconstituted key kinetochore components using novel multi-gene expression systems for both E. coli and insect cells.

Histone Chaperone and Karyopherins

Histone chaperones (HCs), such as Asf1, Rtt106, CAF-1, HIRA, and FACT, play important roles in nucleosome assembly during DNA replication and DNA repair. Understanding nucleosome assembly mechanisms by its chaperones is a crucial not only to understand how newly synthesized histones are recruited during DNA replication and repair, but also important to reveal transferring mechanism of epigenetic information to newly incorporated nucleosomes. As a long-term goal, we like to pursue the structural and biochemical studies of HCs and address questions of: What are structural features of those HCs as it is and as a complex with its substrates, histones? How HCs recognize and stabilize histones in solution? How HCs distinguish histone variants, e.g. histone H3.1 by CAF-1 and histone H3.3 by HIRA? What is the effect of H3 acetylation in transferring histones from Asf1 to either Rtt105 or CAF-1 and eventually nucleosome incorporation?

Sestrin2 and mTORC1

Constant exposure to a high nutrient diet and increased insulin levels often leads to type II diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases. The mechanistic target of rapamycin complex 1 (mTORC1) plays a central role in this regulation and therefore has long been considered as an attractive target for type II diabetes. In this proposed research, we particularly focus on understanding the nutrient- and stress-dependent mTORC1 regulation pathway mediated by Sestrins, a stress-inducible protein family, using multi-directional approaches including x-ray crystallography, single particle cryo-electron microscopy and cell biology. Structural and biological studies of Sestrin and signaling intermediates of mTORC1, GATOR1 and GATOR2, will not only reveal the fundamental mechanism of how nutrient and stress can modulate mTORC1, but also provide the molecular platform to develop knowledge-based anti-diabetic medicines by targeting this pathway.

Laboratory Staff

Postdoctoral Fellows
          Dr. Hanseong Kim
          Dr. Sojin An
          Dr. Sangho Park

Graduate Students
          Jennifer Chik (CMB)

Undergraduate Students
          Thomas Kim
          Neil Patel
          Hu Lee 

Honors & Awards

2016 : Junior faculty development award, American Diabetes Association
2015 : Basil O’Connor Start Scholar Research Award, March of Dimes Birth Defect Foundation
2012 : BSSP (Biological Sciences Scholars Program ) Scholar award, University of Michigan
2010-present: Special Fellowship of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society

Published Articles or Reviews

Ho, A., Cho, C.S., Namkoong, S., Cho, U.S., and Lee, J.H. (2016) Biochemical Basis Underlying Sestrins’ Anti-aging Activities, TiBS, 41(7), 621-632.

Lee, J.H., Cho, U.S., and Karen, M. (2016) Sestrin regulation of TORC1: Is Sestrin a leucine sensor? Sci. Signaling, 0(431), re5

Kim, H.S., An, S.J., Ro, S.H., Teixeira, F., Park, G., Kim, C., Cho, C.S., Kim, J.S., Jakob, U., Lee, J.H. and Cho, U.S. (2015) Janus-faced Sestrin2 controls ROS and mTOR signaling through two separate functional domains, Nat. Comm.  doi: 10.1038/ncomms10025

An, S.J., Kim, H.S., and Cho, U.S. (2015) Mis16 recognizes both histone H4 and Scm3sp to specifically recruit CENP-ACnp1 into centromeres, J. Mol. Biol. 427(20):3230-3240

Lee S.J., McCormick M.S., Lippard S.J., and Cho U.S. (2013) Control of Substrate Access to the Active Site in Methane Monooxygenase, Nature, doi: 10.1038/nature11880

Cho, U.S. and Harrison, S.C. (2011) Ndc10 is a platform for inner kinetochore assembly in budding yeast. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol., doi: 10.1038/nsmb.2178

Cho, U.S. and Harrison, S.C. (2011) Recognition of the centromere-specific histone Cse4 by the chaperone Scm3. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 108(23), 9367-9371

Cho, U.S., Corbett, K.D., Al-Bassam, J., Bellizzi, J.J. 3rd, De Wulf, P., Espelin, C.W., Miranda, J.J., Simons, K., Wei, R.R., Sorger, P.K., Harrison, S.C. (2011) Molecular Structures and Interactions in the Yeast Kinetochore. Cold Spring Harb Symp Quant Biol., 75, 395-401

Xu, Z., Cetin, B., Anger, M., Cho, U.S., Helmhart, W., Nasmyth, K. and Xu, W. (2009) Structure and function of the PP2A-shugoshin interaction. Mol. Cell, 35, 426-441

Cho, U.S., Morrone, S., Sablina, A.A., Arroyo, J.D., Hahn, W.C., Xu, W (2007) Structural basis of PP2A inhibition by small-t antigen. PLoS Biology 5, e202

Cho, U.S. and Xu, W (2007) Crystal structure of a protein phosphatase 2A heterotrimeric holoenzyme. Nature (Research Article) 445, 53-57

Sampietro J., Dahlberg L. C., Cho, U. S., Hinds R. T., Kimelman D., Xu W. (2006) Crystal Structure of a β-catenin/BCL9/Tcf4 Complex. Mol. Cell. 24, 293-300

Cho, U. S., Bader W. M., Amaya F. M., Daley E. M., Klevit E. R., Miller I. S., and Xu W.(2006) Crystal structure of the PhoQ sensor domain suggests a mechanism for transmembrane signaling. J. Mol. Biol. 356, 1193-1206

* This paper was highlighted in Science Editor's choice (2006) Science 311, 147
Bader M. W., Sanowar S., Daley M. E., Schneider A. R., Cho, U. S., Xu W., Klevit R. E., Le Moual H. and Miller S. I. (2005). Recognition of antimicrobial peptides by a bacterial sensor kinase. Cell 122, 461-72.

Chan S., Segelke B., Lekin T., Krupka H., Cho, U. S., Kim M. Y., So M., Kim C. Y., Naranjo C. M., Rogers Y. C., Park M. S., Waldo G. S., Pashkov I., Cascio D., Perry J. L. and Sawaya M. R. (2004). Crystal structure of the Mycobacterium tuberculosis dUTPase: insights into the catalytic mechanism. J. Mol. Biol. 341, 503-17.

For a complete list of this person’s publications, click HERE

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