Pinghua Liu, PhD
Associate Professor
Boston University College of Arts and Sciences

PhD, University of Minnesota at Twin Cities
MS, Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics
BS, Nankai University

The Liu Group’s research is at the interface of Chemistry and Biology. Their work focuses on a) mechanistic studies and the application of pharmacologically important natural products using organic, molecular biology as well as biophysical methods, and b) the chemical basis of biological clock with the ultimate goal of elucidating the time-recording mechanism in the ageing process. Their work’s main focuses are the chemical basis of pathogen and host interactions, and the chemical nature of the biological clock. His projects address two major areas (1) mechanistic studies of two metallo-proteins (IspG and IspH) in the corresponding process, and (2) identification of other components in these two processes.

Chemical Basis of Biological Clock – The lab’s research into circadian rhythms (Should we explain what they are, or will most people know) the area is divided into three sub-areas: (1) Determining the chemical basis and detailed signal transduction pathways in circadian clock, (2) mechanistic studies on enzymes involved in histone-posttranslational modifications, and (3) Identification of the inhibitors for the clock-related enzymes for therapeutic purposes.

Isoprenoid Biosynthesis – The lab’s research on isoprenoids, one of the largest and most structurally diverse groups of metabolites found in nature, is divided into four sub-areas: (1) Mechanistic studies of the IspG and IspH, (2) Development of mechanism-based inhibitors of IspG, IspH as antibiotics and antimalaria drugs, (3) Building an isoprenoid library, biological activity evaluation, and isoprenoid production using bioengineering, and (4) Mechanistic studies of the compound 8 triggered human innate-immune response signal transduction pathway.

Techniques & Resources:

Enzymology – This includes organic synthesis, synthesis of isotopically labeled probes, sub-cloning, protein expression and purification, steady-state and pre-steady state kinetics, inhibitor design and evaluation, and mechanistic studies.

Genetics – The Liu lab uses transcriptional, post-transcriptional, and post-translational regulation, gene knockout, gene replacement, and metabolic engineering.

Spectroscopies – We utilize EPR and Mössbauer for metallo-enzyme characterizations.

Boston University
BU-BMC Cancer Center

Boston University
Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research

Boston University
Genome Science Institute

Alkaloid Biosynthetic Studies
08/01/2021 - 06/30/2025 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Mechanistic Studies of C-X bond formation chemistries
08/15/2020 - 07/31/2024 (PI)
National Science Foundation

Mechanistic Studies of New C-S Bond Formation Chemistries
09/01/2013 - 08/31/2018 (PI)
National Science Foundation

Mechanistic studies of enzymes in isoprenoid biosynthesis
09/01/2010 - 07/31/2017 (PI)
NIH/National Institute of General Medical Sciences


Yr Title Project-Sub Proj Pubs
2023 Alkaloid Biosynthetic Studies 3R01GM140040-03S1
2023 Alkaloid Biosynthetic Studies 5R01GM140040-03
2022 Alkaloid Biosynthetic Studies 5R01GM140040-02
2021 Alkaloid Biosynthetic Studies 1R01GM140040-01A1
2020 Production Scale-Up and Target Identification of the Antioxidant Ergothioneine 3R41AT010878-01S1
2019 Production Scale-Up and Target Identification of the Antioxidant Ergothioneine 1R41AT010878-01
2014 Mechanistic studies of enzymes in isoprenoid biosynthesis 5R01GM093903-05 17
2013 Mechanistic studies of enzymes in isoprenoid biosynthesis 5R01GM093903-04 17
2012 Mechanistic studies of enzymes in isoprenoid biosynthesis 5R01GM093903-03 17
Showing 10 of 12 results. Show All Results

Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.

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  1. Cheng R, Weitz AC, Paris J, Tang Y, Zhang J, Song H, Naowarojna N, Li K, Qiao L, Lopez J, Grinstaff MW, Zhang L, Guo Y, Elliott S, Liu P. OvoAMtht from Methyloversatilis thermotolerans ovothiol biosynthesis is a bifunction enzyme: thiol oxygenase and sulfoxide synthase activities. Chem Sci. 2022 Mar 24; 13(12):3589-3598.View Related Profiles. PMID: 35432880; PMCID: PMC8943887; DOI: 10.1039/d1sc05479a;
  2. Roessler CG, Agarwal R, Allaire M, Alonso-Mori R, Andi B, Bachega JF, Bommer M, Brewster AS, Browne MC, Chatterjee R, Cho E, Cohen AE, Cowan M, Datwani S, Davidson VL, Defever J, Eaton B, Ellson R, Feng Y, Ghislain LP, Glownia JM, Han G, Hattne J, Hellmich J, Héroux A, Ibrahim M, Kern J, Kuczewski A, Lemke HT, Liu P, Majlof L, McClintock WM, Myers S, Nelsen S, Olechno J, Orville AM, Sauter NK, Soares AS, Soltis SM, Song H, Stearns RG, Tran R, Tsai Y, Uervirojnangkoorn M, Wilmot CM, Yachandra V, Yano J, Yukl ET, Zhu D, Zouni A. Acoustic Injectors for Drop-On-Demand Serial Femtosecond Crystallography. Structure. 2016 Apr 05; 24(4):631-40. PMID: 26996959; PMCID: PMC4920001; DOI: 10.1016/j.str.2016.02.007;
  3. Yan W, Song H, Song F, Guo Y, Wu CH, Sae Her A, Pu Y, Wang S, Naowarojna N, Weitz A, Hendrich MP, Costello CE, Zhang L, Liu P, Zhang YJ. Endoperoxide formation by an a-ketoglutarate-dependent mononuclear non-haem iron enzyme. Nature. 2015 Nov 26; 527(7579):539-43.View Related Profiles. PMID: 26524521; PMCID: PMC4804460; DOI: 10.1038/nature15519;
  4. Song H, Hu W, Naowarojna N, Her AS, Wang S, Desai R, Qin L, Chen X, Liu P. Mechanistic studies of a novel C-S lyase in ergothioneine biosynthesis: the involvement of a sulfenic acid intermediate. Sci Rep. 2015 Jul 07; 5:11870. PMID: 26149121; PMCID: PMC4493562; DOI: 10.1038/srep11870;
  5. Ning L, Li Z, Wang G, Hu W, Hou Q, Tong Y, Zhang M, Chen Y, Qin L, Chen X, Man HY, Liu P, He J. Quantitative assessment of single-cell whole genome amplification methods for detecting copy number variation using hippocampal neurons. Sci Rep. 2015 Jun 19; 5:11415. PMID: 26091148; PMCID: PMC4650676; DOI: 10.1038/srep11415;
  6. Song H, Her AS, Raso F, Zhen Z, Huo Y, Liu P. Cysteine oxidation reactions catalyzed by a mononuclear non-heme iron enzyme (OvoA) in ovothiol biosynthesis. Org Lett. 2014 Apr 18; 16(8):2122-5. PMID: 24684381; PMCID: PMC3998768; DOI: 10.1021/ol5005438;
  7. Song H, Leninger M, Lee N, Liu P. Regioselectivity of the oxidative C-S bond formation in ergothioneine and ovothiol biosyntheses. Org Lett. 2013 Sep 20; 15(18):4854-7. PMID: 24016264; PMCID: PMC4166525; DOI: 10.1021/ol402275t;
  8. Daughtry KD, Xiao Y, Stoner-Ma D, Cho E, Orville AM, Liu P, Allen KN. Quaternary ammonium oxidative demethylation: X-ray crystallographic, resonance Raman, and UV-visible spectroscopic analysis of a Rieske-type demethylase. J Am Chem Soc. 2012 Feb 8; 134(5):2823-34.View Related Profiles. PMID: 22224443; PMCID: PMC5718839; DOI: 10.1021/ja2111898;
  9. Xiao Y, Chang WC, Liu HW, Liu P. Study of IspH, a key enzyme in the methylerythritol phosphate pathway using fluoro-substituted substrate analogues. Org Lett. 2011 Nov 04; 13(21):5912-5. PMID: 21981393; PMCID: PMC3205992; DOI: 10.1021/ol202559r;
  10. Xiao Y, Rooker D, You Q, Meyers CL, Liu P. IspG-catalyzed positional isotopic exchange in methylerythritol cyclodiphosphate of the deoxyxylulose phosphate pathway: mechanistic implications. Chembiochem. 2011 Mar 07; 12(4):527-30. PMID: 22238143; PMCID: PMC3257810; DOI: 10.1002/cbic.201000716;
Showing 10 of 18 results. Show More

This graph shows the total number of publications by year, by first, middle/unknown, or last author.

Bar chart showing 18 publications over 11 distinct years, with a maximum of 3 publications in 2008 and 2009 and 2015


Contact for Mentoring:

590 Commonwealth Ave
Boston MA 02215
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(617) 353-6466 (fax)

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