Karen Allen

Professor and Chair of Chemistry

  • Title Professor and Chair of Chemistry
  • Education BS, Tufts University
    PhD, Brandeis University

Research in the Allen lab focuses on the elucidation of enzyme catalytic mechanisms with an eye toward the use of protein structure and mechanistic knowledge in the design of therapeutic inhibitory ligands. Our approaches encompass the use of macromolecular X-ray crystallography, small-angle X-ray scattering, molecular modeling, bioinformatics, and kinetics. These synergistic tools have been applied to the understanding of how Nature has evolved new chemistries from existing protein scaffolds in the largest family of phosphatases in all domains of life (the HAD superfamily). Our use of intermediate and transition-state analogs has provided the community with atomic level views of phosphatases, aldolases and kinases at work. Our recent bioinformatic and crystallographic work on PglC has uncovered the structural underpinnings of a superfamily of phosphoglycosyl transferases that act at the membrane interface. Structure-aided design projects include developing inhibitors of Botulinum Protease light-chain serotypes A and B and targets in inflammation and neurodegenerative diseases, including Keap-1 and NEMO.

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