The Pomerantz lab is a chemical biology group at the University of Minnesota. Our interdisciplinary research uses a wide range of techniques including organic synthesis, bioanalytical chemistry, biochemistry and molecular biology for studying the function of transcription factors involved in disease. Our primary goal is to discover small molecules which we can synthesize in the laboratory to modulate the function of protein-protein interactions involved in transcription, with the ultimate goal of developing new chemical probes for understanding the biology of these proteins.
Our Research: Our overarching goal is to discover new ways to inhibit protein-protein interactions (PPIs) involved in transcription. Our research seeks to understand the molecular level details of transcription factor-protein interactions and epigenetic complexes which control how our genetic information is expressed. At the same time, we use chemistry to design synthetic molecules that disrupt the dysregulated forms of PPI communication to further understand the underlying biology and treat disease. We apply NMR and MRI, to visualize biomolecular interactions, and use small molecules that we synthesize in the laboratory to perturb the protein function. Students and postdocs working in this area are exposed to broad training in organic synthesis, protein biochemistry, fragment-based drug design and additional applied biophysics techniques to validate our 19F NMR approach.
Given that transcription factors represent a major class of potential drug targets and the demand for structural methods to characterize them, our biomolecular 19F NMR approach for transcription factor-PPIs could significantly increase the repertoire of new targets and open up new paths forward for small molecule discovery.
The Pomerantz lab welcomes Kayla Vinh to the lab as our newest member. Kayla is a medicinal chemist who is interested in working on our new alpha/beta unsaturated ester approach to make macrocyclic peptides. She previously earned her Bachelors of Science degree in Chemistry, with a minor in mathematics, from the University of Central Arkansas. Fun facts about Kayla: she can play the piano and violin, and in her spare time she likes to sew stuffed animals.
Congratulations to Zach for earning an undergraduate research fellowship for next spring. Zach is currently working with Huarui Cui to make BRD4 inhibitors.
The Pomerantz lab has recently published three papers to scientific journals, as well as, a chapter in a scientific book. These are wonderful additions in our scientific story to utilize chemical biology to investigate small fragment inhibitors, bromodomains, and the epigenetic code.
Dr. Peter Ycas successfully defended his dissertation, "Biophysical Methods to Study Bromodomain Interactions and 19F NMR Analysis of p300/CBP KIX Domain Complexes," on November 13th, 2019. In addition to his scholarly work, he was also part of our first crop of teaching assistants to help establish the Chemical Biology lab, 4423W. Dr. Ycas will be departing shortly to head out to Boulder, Colorado as he finishes up his final paper for Pomerantz lab.