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Lecture series: Hening Lin

Hening Lin, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY will give a talk on “Sirtuins and novel PTMs in cancer”. 

The Lin Group, an HHMI chemical biology lab at Cornell,  (USA) studies the chemistry, biology, and application of enzymes that have important physiological functions with a combination of synthetic and biochemical methods. Enzymes of particular interest are sirtuins, HDACs, PARPs, radical SAM enzymes, and CD38 as most of these enzymes are involved in protein post-translational modifications and have important biological functions. The Lin Group combines organic synthesis, biochemistry, biophysics, molecular biology, and cell biology to study the enzymology, identify the modified proteins, and study how the modification affects protein structure/function and thus the biological significance of the modification. They also develop small molecule inhibitors to target these enzymes and investigate their potentials in treating human diseases, such as cancer.

Talk’s abstract

Sirtuins are known as nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD)-dependent deacetylases. They regulate aging, transcription, and metabolism, and are considered important targets for treating several human diseases. There are seven sirtuins in humans, SIRT1-7. Four of them (SIRT4-7) have very weak deacetylase activity, which have caused many confusions and debates in the biological community. My laboratory has recently discovered several novel enzymatic activities, such as desuccinylation and defatty-acylation, for several sirtuins with no robust deacetylase activity. This have led to the identification of previously unknown protein posttranslational modifications (PTMs) and revealed new regulatory mechanisms of biology. Furthermore, this finding has enabled us to develop compounds that can inhibit particular sirtuins selectively. Some of the selective sirtuins inhibitors can kill cancer cells in cell culture and inhibit tumor formation in mouse models at least partly via the regulation of c-Myc and Ras. The roles of sirtuins and the new PTMs in cancer are being elucidated.

Biographical sketch

Dr. Hening Lin obtained his BS degree in chemistry from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China in 1998, and his PhD degree in bio-organic chemistry in Dr. Virginia Cornish’s laboratory from Columbia University in New York City in 2003. After his postdoctoral studies with Dr. Christopher Walsh at Harvard Medical School, he became a faculty member in Department of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, Cornell University in Ithaca, New York in 2006. He was promoted to associate professor with tenure in 2012 and to full professor in 2013. His laboratory studies the chemistry, biology, and application of enzymes, in particular NAD+-consuming enzymes, such as sirtuins and PARPs. Dr. Lin was a Jane Coffin Childs Fellow while at Harvard Medical School. His awards include the Camille and Henry Dreyfus New Faculty Award and CAPA Distinguished Junior and Senior Faculty Awards, the 2014 ACS Pfizer Award in Enzyme Chemistry. He was selected as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator in 2015.