Keriann M Backus, Ph.D.

Office Address:
615 Charles E. Young Drive South
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Assistant Professor, Chemistry and Biochemistry, Biological Chemistry
Member, Biochemistry, Biophysics & Structural Biology GPB Home Area, Immunity, Microbes & Molecular Pathogenesis GPB Home Area

Keriann M. Backus, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Biological Chemistry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and an Assistant Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at UCLA. Dr. Backus received her B.S. in Chemistry and B.A. in Latin American Studies from Brown University in 2007. She conducted undergraduate research in inorganic chemistry at Brown in the laboratory of Amit Basu on the synthesis and characterization of metal coordinating 1,2,3-triazoles. As part of her undergraduate education, she also conducted research in the laboratory of Tarun Kapoor at Rockefeller University. As a 2007 Rhodes Scholar and an NIH Oxford Cambridge Scholar, her Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry was conducted jointly in the laboratories of Benjamin Davis (Oxford) and Clifton Barry (NIH, NIAID). Her doctoral research focused on the synthesis and application of trehalose-based chemical probes to label and image Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In 2012 Dr. Backus completed her doctorate and began an NIH postdoctoral fellowship at The Scripps Research Institute in the laboratory of Benjamin Cravatt. At TSRI she developed chemical proteomics platforms to conduct covalent fragment-based screening at cysteine and lysine residues proteome-wide. In the area of chemical biology, her research combines chemical probe synthesis with activity based protein profiling and chemical proteomics to develop chemical tools to manipulate the human immune system.


A selected list of publications:

Hacker Stephan M, Backus Keriann M, Lazear Michael R, Forli Stefano, Correia Bruno E, Cravatt Benjamin F   Global profiling of lysine reactivity and ligandability in the human proteome Nature Chemistry, 2017; .
Bar-Peled Liron, Kemper Esther K, Suciu Radu M, Vinogradova Ekaterina V, Backus Keriann M, Horning Benjamin D, Paul Thomas A, Ichu Taka-Aki, Svensson Robert U, Olucha Jose, Chang Max W, Kok Bernard P, Zhu Zhou, Ihle Nathan T, Dix Melissa M, Jiang Ping, Hayward Matthew M, Saez Enrique, Shaw Reuben J, Cravatt Benjamin F   Chemical Proteomics Identifies Druggable Vulnerabilities in a Genetically Defined Cancer Cell, 2017; 171(3): 696-709.e23.
Touchette Megan H, Van Vlack Erik R, Bai Lu, Kim Jia, Cognetta Armand B, Previti Mary L, Backus Keriann M, Martin Dwight W, Cravatt Benjamin F, Seeliger Jessica C   A Screen for Protein-Protein Interactions in Live Mycobacteria Reveals a Functional Link between the Virulence-Associated Lipid Transporter LprG and the Mycolyltransferase Antigen 85A ACS infectious diseases, 2017; 3(5): 336-348.
Chen Ying-Chu, Backus Keriann M, Merkulova Maria, Yang Christina, Brown Dennis, Cravatt Benjamin F, Zhang Chao   Covalent Modulators of the Vacuolar ATPase Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2017; 139(2): 639-642.
Guo Chun-Jun, Chang Fang-Yuan, Wyche Thomas P, Backus Keriann M, Acker Timothy M, Funabashi Masanori, Taketani Mao, Donia Mohamed S, Nayfach Stephen, Pollard Katherine S, Craik Charles S, Cravatt Benjamin F, Clardy Jon, Voigt Christopher A, Fischbach Michael A   Discovery of Reactive Microbiota-Derived Metabolites that Inhibit Host Proteases Cell, 2017; 168(3): 517-526.e18.
Horning Benjamin D, Suciu Radu M, Ghadiri Darian A, Ulanovskaya Olesya A, Matthews Megan L, Lum Kenneth M, Backus Keriann M, Brown Steven J, Rosen Hugh, Cravatt Benjamin F   Chemical Proteomic Profiling of Human Methyltransferases Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2016; 138(40): 13335-13343.
Blewett Megan M, Xie Jiji, Zaro Balyn W, Backus Keriann M, Altman Amnon, Teijaro John R, Cravatt Benjamin F   Chemical proteomic map of dimethyl fumarate-sensitive cysteines in primary human T cells Science signaling, 2016; 9(445): rs10.
Briggs Kimberly J, Koivunen Peppi, Cao Shugeng, Backus Keriann M, Olenchock Benjamin A, Patel Hetalben, Zhang Qing, Signoretti Sabina, Gerfen Gary J, Richardson Andrea L, Witkiewicz Agnieszka K, Cravatt Benjamin F, Clardy Jon, Kaelin William G   Paracrine Induction of HIF by Glutamate in Breast Cancer: EglN1 Senses Cysteine Cell, 2016; 166(1): 126-39.
Backus Keriann M, Correia Bruno E, Lum Kenneth M, Forli Stefano, Horning Benjamin D, González-Páez Gonzalo E, Chatterjee Sandip, Lanning Bryan R, Teijaro John R, Olson Arthur J, Wolan Dennis W, Cravatt Benjamin F   Proteome-wide covalent ligand discovery in native biological systems Nature, 2016; 534(7608): 570-4.
Backus Keriann M, Dolan Michael A, Barry Conor S, Joe Maju, McPhie Peter, Boshoff Helena I M, Lowary Todd L, Davis Benjamin G, Barry Clifton E   The three Mycobacterium tuberculosis antigen 85 isoforms have unique substrates and activities determined by non-active site regions The Journal of biological chemistry, 2014; 289(36): 25041-53.
Barry Conor S, Backus Keriann M, Barry Clifton E, Davis Benjamin G   ESI-MS assay of M. tuberculosis cell wall antigen 85 enzymes permits substrate profiling and design of a mechanism-based inhibitor Journal of the American Chemical Society, 2011; 133(34): 13232-5.
Backus Keriann M, Boshoff Helena I, Barry Conor S, Boutureira Omar, Patel Mitul K, D'Hooge François, Lee Seung Seo, Via Laura E, Tahlan Kapil, Barry Clifton E, Davis Benjamin G   Uptake of unnatural trehalose analogs as a reporter for Mycobacterium tuberculosis Nature chemical biology, 2011; 7(4): 228-35.