University of Pittsburgh Cancer Institute (UPCI)

Alexander Deiters, PhD

Alexander Deiters
Professor of Chemistry


Contact Information

Contact Information

Chevron Science Center
219 Parkman Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15260

Email: deiters@pitt.edu

Administrative Assistant
Name: Deb Hunt
Phone: 412-624-7554
Email: debhunt@pitt.edu

Research Keywords

Research Keywords

Chemical biology; medicinal chemistry; synthetic chemistry; synthetic biology; microRNA; miRNA; optogenetics; photobiology; photochemistry; oligonucleotide; nucleic acid; amino acid; protein engineering; imaging

Research Summary

Research Summary


We are using synthetic molecules to control DNA, RNA, and protein function in order to study biological processes.

1) The discovery of new small organic molecules that inhibit or activate specific biological pathways is a major research topic in the lab. Our discovered microRNA inhibitors have therapeutic implications in cancer and viral infections.

2) We are genetically re-wiring the circuitry of bacterial and mammalian cells in order to give new functions to proteins and organisms. Our approach is based on the expansion of the genetic code with synthetic, unnatural amino acids.

3) Light is a unique control element that enables the regulation of biological processes with high spatial and temporal resolution. We are engineering light-responsive nucleic acids and proteins, and are applying them in cellular optobiological studies.

Selected Publications

Selected Publications

  • Connelly CM, Deiters A. Control of oncogenic miRNA function by light-activated miRNA antagomirs. Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1165:99-114. PubMed Link
  • Baker AS, Deiters A. Optical control of protein function through unnatural amino acid mutagenesis and other optogenetic approaches. ACS Chem Biol. 2014 May 21. PubMed Link
  • Hemphill J, Govan J, Uprety R, Tsang M, Deiters A. Site-specific promoter caging enables optochemical gene activation in cells and animals. J Am Chem Soc. 2014 May 14;136(19):7152-8. PubMed Link
  • Volvert ML, Prevot PP, Close P, Laguesse S, Pirotte S, Hemphill J, Rogister F, Kruzy N, Sacheli R, Moonen G, Deiters A, Merkenschlager M, Chariot A, Malgrange B, Godin JD, Nguyen L. MicroRNA targeting of CoREST controls polarization of migrating cortical neurons. Cell Rep. 2014 May 22;7(4):1168-83. PubMed Link
  • Blatter N, Prokup A, Deiters A, Marx A. Modulating the pKa of a tyrosine in KlenTaq DNA polymerase that is crucial for abasic site bypass by in vivo incorporation of a non-canonical amino acid. Chembiochem. 2014 Apr 24. PubMed Link
  • Karginov AV, Hahn KM, Deiters A. Optochemical activation of kinase function in live cells. Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1148:31-43. PubMed Link
  • Liu Q, Deiters A. Optochemical control of deoxyoligonucleotide function via a nucleobase-caging approach. Acc Chem Res. 2014 Jan 21;47(1):45-55. PubMed Link
  • Connelly CM, Deiters A. Identification of inhibitors of microRNA function from small molecule screens. Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1095:147-56. PubMed Link
  • Connelly CM, Deiters A. Cellular microRNA sensors based on luciferase reporters. Methods Mol Biol. 2014;1095:135-46. PubMed Link
  • Deiters A. Oligonucleotides as targets and cellular probes. Bioorg Med Chem. 2013 Oct 15;21(20):6099-100. PubMed Link

See all pubs (Pubmed)

Department Website

Lab Website









Last modified: 6/24/14