Hurley Lab

The research lab of Thomas D. Hurley is working to understand, at the molecular level, the processes involved in the recognition and binding of molecules that are directed to the active sites of enzymes. The main approaches utilized in the laboratory are X-ray crystallography, inhibitor screening, detailed enzyme kinetics and mass spectrometry.

Active Research

Aldehyde Dehydrogenases

A major focus of this study area is to correlate the structural and functional characteristics of aldehyde dehydrogenases as they impact cellular function. The goal is to understand the catalytic function of this important enzyme family and how manipulation of its activity through the design of small molecule modulators of its activity can affect disease outcomes. In particular, investigators in this laboratory have become interested in the roles of aldehyde dehydrogenases from family 1A (ALDH1A) in chemoresistance in certain forms of cancer and as biomarkers for cancer stem cells, also known as cancer initiating cells. Toward this end, the lab team has pursued the discovery and development of small molecule inhibitors that demonstrate selectivity toward the different enzyme that is used as chemical tools to probe the manner in which these enzymes impact cancer cell survival.

Glycogen Synthesis

The second major research direction of this lab is in collaboration with Peter Roach, PhD, and Anna Depaoli-Roach, PhD, where investigators are exploring the structural and functional properties of the major enzyme that controls glycogen synthesis; glycogen synthase. In particular, the team is are interested in how manipulation of glycogen synthase can impact the outcome of diseases associated with the over-accumulation of glycogen – so called glycogen storage diseases, such as Pompe and Lafora Disease. The goal of this collaboration is to discover and develop novel inhibitors that can block further accumulation of glycogen in cellular and mouse model systems of these diseases. To facilitate the discovery and development of the novel inhibitors our laboratory is using the structure and enzyme characteristics of glycogen synthase to inform both the medicinal chemistry and biological evaluation in cell and animal models from our collaborators.

Research Funding

1R21CA198409-01 (Hurley and Matei, MPI)
Targeting Ovarian Cancer Stem Cells through Selective Inhibition of ALDH1A1

R01DK27221-37 (Roach and Hurley, MPI)
Small Molecule Inhibition of Glycogen Storage as Therapy of Glycogenoses

1R01CA214567-01 (PI: Larson; Hurley- CoI)
Isozyme-selective ALDH Inhibitors for Sensitizing Ovarian Cancer Stem-like Cells to Chemotherapy

P01NS097197-01 Project #3: (Leader: P Roach/Hurley – Co-I)
Suppressing glycogen storage with small molecule inhibitors as a therapeutic approach to LD
Define the clinical biochemistry of LD mutations to provide a personalized diagnosis and establish therapeutic options to treat LD, ultimately resulting in a cure

Recent Publications

A full list of publications by Thomas D. Hurley are available on PubMed.

Maile, C.A., Hingst, J. R., Mahalingan, K. K., O’Reilly, A. O., Cleasby, M. E., Mickelson, J. R., McCue, M. E., Anderson, S. M., Hurley, T. D., Wojtaszewski, J. F. P., Piercy, R. J. (2016) A highly prevalent equine glycogen storage disease is explained by constitutive activation of a mutant glycogen synthase. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2017 Jan;1861(1 Pt A):3388-3398. doi: 10.1016/j.bbagen.2016.08.021. PMCID: PMC5148651

Mahalingan, K.K., Baskaran, S., DePaoli-Roach, A.A., Roach, P.J. and Hurley, T.D. (2017) Redox switch for the inhibited state of yeast glycogen synthase mimics regulation by phosphorylation. Biochemistry 56(1):179-188. doi: 10.1021/acs.biochem.6b00884. Epub 2016 Dec 20. PMCID:  PMC5516924

Buchman, C.D. and Hurley, T.D. (2017) Inhibition of the Aldehyde Dehydrogenase 1/2 Family by Psoralen and Coumarin Derivatives. J. Med. Chem. (in press). PMCID: in process

Li, J., Condello, S., Thomas-Pepin, J., Ma, X., Xia, Y., Hurley, T.D., Matei, D. and Cheng, J.-X. (2017) Lipid desaturation is a metabolic marker and therapeutic target of cancer stem cells. Cell Stem Cell, http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.stem.2016.11.004. PMCID:  PMC5337165

Morgan, CA and Hurley, TD. (2015) Characterization of two distinct structural classes of selective aldehyde dehydrogenase 1A1 inhibitors. J. Med. Chem. 58(4):1964-75. doi: 10.1021/jm501900s. Epub 2015 Feb 10. PMCID: PMC4344389.

Faculty Research Team

Thomas D. Hurley, PhD

Thomas D. Hurley, PhD

Associate Dean for Graduate Education

Additional Research Team Members

Other research team members in the Hurley Lab include Bruce Tang (PhD graduate student), Mikhail Chcterbinine (PhD graduate student), and Cyrus Takahashi (MD/PhD graduate student).