Jeffrey R. Peterson, PhD


Associate Professor

Breast Cancer TRDG Member

Research Program

Rho GTPase effectors regulate the cellular actin cytoskeleton
Crystal structure of a chemical inhibitor bound to Pak5
A liquid-handling robot for high throughput screening assays


Education and Training

Educational Background

  • PhD, Cell Biology, Yale University, New Haven, CT, 1997
  • BA, Biology, Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, PA, 1991


  • American Association for Cancer Research
  • American Society for Cell Biology

Honors & Awards

  • American Cancer Society Research Scholar, 2008
  • American Association for Cancer Research Career Development Award, 2006
  • NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, 1998-2001
  • John Enders Grantee, Yale University, 1997
  • Fulbright Fellow, University of Heidelberg, Germany, 1991-1992
  • Merck Corporation Research Fellow, 1990
Research Profile

Research Program

Research Interests

Cancer Signaling and Metabolism

  • Identifying and targeting metabolic weakness of triple negative breast cancer
  • Understanding how cancer cell signaling impacts cell metabolism
  • Controlling abberant cancer signaling and metabolism through the development and characterization of new drug-like small molecules

Lab Overview

Peterson Lab

We seek to understand how cell signaling and metabolism are altered in cancer and to use that information to devise new therapeutic strategies. We use whatever approaches are required, whether protein biochemistry, high throughput screening, or genetics in model organisms, to advance our quest.

  1. Targeting molecular alterations that drive triple negative breast cancer growth
    TNBC is a poorly understood but malignant type of breast cancer that disproportionately affects younger women and African-American women.  There are currently no targeted therapies for TNBC but they are desperately needed. We have been characterizing molecular alterations in cell signaling and metabolic pathways that contribute to TNBC cell growth. We utilize cell line models and human tumor xenografts as model systems to developing new therapeutic approaches for this malignant breast cancer subtype. Our recent work has identified a metabolic weakness of TNBC and we are currently testing whether existing drugs that alter this pathway are active against this disease in cell line and xenograft models.  In addition, we screen small molecule libraries to identify new lead compounds targeting vulnerable pathways in breast cancer.

  2. How do signaling pathways that drive cancer cell growth alter cellular metabolism to support tumor growth?
    We have identified a novel link between growth factor signaling and nucleotide biosynthesis.  Proliferating cells such as cancer cells have an elevated requirement for nucleotides.  Rate-limited enzymes in nucleotide biosynthesis, IMPDH and CTPS, can reversibly polymerize under conditions of nucleotide deficit.  We hypothesize that this assembly enhances nucleotide biosynthesis in an attempt to restore nucleotide levels and may be relevant in supporting the growth of cancer cells.  Importantly, we have identified a kinase as a regulator of the polymerization of these enzymes. Furthermore we have identified novel inhibitors of this kinase that might represent a way to starve cancer cells of nucleotides and halt their growth. We are working at all levels; from studying the biochemistry of purified proteins to their function in genetically engineered organisms to address these fundamental questions:

    1. In what biological contexts is polymerization of IMPDH and CTPS important?

    2. How is their assembly regulated?

    3. What other components co-assemble with IMPDH and CTPS?

    4. How does assembly affect their catalytic activity?

The answers to these questions will reveal how cellular signaling pathways can influence cell metabolism and may suggest new therapeutic approaches in cancer.

Lab Staff

Alexander Beatty, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Room: P3165

Tanu Singh

Scientific Associate

Room: P3165

Jacqueline Simonet, PhD

Postdoctoral Associate

Room: P3165

Selected Publications

T cell activation triggers reversible inosine-5'-monophosphate dehydrogenase assembly. Duong-Ly KC, Kuo YM, Johnson MC, Cote JM, Kollman JM, Soboloff J, Rall GF, Andrews AJ, Peterson JR. Journal of cell science. 2018; 131(17).

Unexpected Activities in Regulating Ciliation Contribute to Off-target Effects of Targeted Drugs. Kiseleva AA, Korobeynikov VA, Nikonova AS, Zhang P, Makhov P, Deneka AY, Einarson MB, Serebriiskii IG, Liu H, Peterson JR, Golemis EA. Clin Cancer Res. 2019 Jul 1;25(13):4179-4193. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-18-3535. Epub 2019 Mar 13.

Beatty A, Fink LS, Singh T, Strigun A, Peter E, Ferrer CM, Nicolas E, Cai KQ, Moran TP, Reginato MJ, Rennefahrt U, Peterson JR. Metabolite profiling reveals the glutathione biosynthetic pathway as a therapeutic target in triple negative breast cancer. Molecular cancer therapeutics, 17(1):264-75, 2018. PubMed

Kurimchak, A.M., Shelton, C., Duncan, K.E., Johnson, K., Brown, J., O'Brien, S., Gabbasov, R., Fink, L.S., Li, Y.S., Childers, W.E., Connolly, D.C., Chernoff, J., Peterson, J.R., Duncan, J.S. Adaptation of the kinome promotes resistance to BET bromodomain inhibitors in ovarian cancer. Cell Reports 16(5):1273-1286, 2016. 

Duong-Ly, K.C., Devarajan, K., Lilang, S., Horiuchi, K.Y., Wang, Y., Ma, H., Peterson, J.R. Kinase inhibitor profiling reveals unexpected opportunities to inhibit disease-associated mutant kinases. Cell Reports 14(4): 772-781, 2016.  PubMed

Xu, Q, Malecka, KL, Fink, L, Jordan, EJ, Duffy, E, Kolander, S, Peterson, JR, Dunbrack, RL Jr. Identifying three-dimensional structures of autophosphorylation complexes in crystals of protein kinases. Sci Signaling 2015 (in press). PubMed

Fink, LS, Beatty, A, Devarajan, K, Peri, S, Peterson, JR. Pharmacological profiling of kinase dependency in cell lines across triple-negative breast cancer subtypes. Mol Cancer Ther 2015; 14:298-306.  PubMed

Strochlic, TI, Stavrides, KP, Thomas, SV, Nicolas, E, O’Reilly, AM, Peterson, JR. Ack kinase regulates CTP synthase filaments during Drosophila oogenesis. EMBO Rep 2014; 15:1184-1191.  PubMed

Strochlic, TI, Concilio, S, Viaud, J, Eberwine, R, Wong, LE, Minden, A, Turk, BE, Plomann, M, Peterson, JR. Identification of neuronal substrates implicates Pak5 in synaptic vesicle trafficking. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 2012; 109:4116-26.  PubMed

Anastassiadis, T, Deacon, SW, Devarajan, K, Ma, H, Peterson, JR. Comprehensive assay of kinase catalytic activity reveals features of kinase inhibitor selectivity. Nat Biotechnol 2011; 29:1039-45.  PubMed

Strochlic, TI, Viaud, J, Rennefahrt, U, Anastassiadis, T, Peterson, JR. Phosphoinositides are essential coactivators for p21-activated kinase 1. Mol Cell 2010; 40:493-500.  PubMed

Deacon, SW, Beeser, A, Fukui, JA, Rennefahrt, UEE, Myers, C, Chernoff, J, Peterson, JR. An isoform-selective, small-molecule inhibitor targets the autoregulatory mechanism of p21-activated kinase. Chem Biol 2008; PubMed

Additional Publications


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