Dharmaraja Allimuthu

PhD (IISER-Pune)

Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry




  • Ph.D. (2015) IISER-Pune
  • M.Sc. (2005) Bharathidasan University



Developing high-quality covalent chemical probes for cellular proteins
Cell death-based phenotypic screening to identify small molecules therapeutics that mediate their effect through irreversible inhibition of glutaredoxin-1 and peroxiredoxin-1 in drug resistant cancers
Activity-based protein profiling and chemical proteomics to elucidate mechanism of action of selective and covalent anticancer therapeutics
Uncover new drug-targets using chemical proteomics in cancer cells to develop fresh anticancer agents

Our lab is interested in identifying high-quality covalent chemical probes as irreversible inhibitors of disease relevant cellular proteins, which couples the inter-disciplinary research expertise of chemistry and biology.
Rationally designing targeted covalent therapeutics as irreversible enzyme inhibitors has led to the approval of several anticancer therapeutics including afatinib, neratinib and ibrutinib. Many of the FDA approved therapeutics or small molecules that are in clinical trials are equipped with reactive electrophilic warheads. In these molecules, electrophiles possessing high to moderate reactivity have been associated with off-target activity as they are pronetoirreversibly modify several proteins at the nucleophilic amino acid residues including cysteine and serine, which is considered a potential hurdle for successful translation/usage of covalent therapies in clinical applications.

We are interested in developing library of small molecules tagged to low reactivity electrophiles such as 2-chloropropinamides, sulfonyl fluorides and their modified warhead analogs which are expected to possess weak reactivity with protein nucleophiles. Our initial focus is to develop selective and irreversible inhibitors of redox active cellular proteins containing cysteine residues in its active sites, glutaredoxin (GRX1) and peroxyredoxin-1 (PRDX-1). Both GPRX1 and PRDX1 are highly expressed in many of the cancer cell lines including drug-resistant ones, disturbing the levels of these proteins in cells using small interference ribonucleic acid (siRNA) mediated knock down or CRISPR-cas9 mediated knock out have been shown to affecttheir survival. However, these disease causing proteins lack selective and potent functional inhibitors. Our focus is to synthesize a library ofrationally designed targeted-covalent small moleculesbased on existing ligand scaffolds of GPRX-1 and PRDX-1, which are tagged with electrophilic warheads that are capable of reacting with active site cysteine residues. Then, we evaluate their inhibitory potency using in vitro biochemical assays.Subsequently, liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) analysis of the proteins exposed to the inhibitors will establish the direct engagement of the covalent small molecule at the active site cysteines of the redox proteins or any other mode of action. Evaluating the top hits in cells to identify their selectivity in cellular proteome will be the next step.Finally, the leading hits identified will be used in cell death-based phenotypic screening of PRDX1/GRX1 sensitive cancer cell lines/drug-resistant and their paired non-cancerous cells to find selective anticancer agents that mediate their effect through the inhibition of PRDX1/GRX1 redox active proteins.
Further, the synthesized library also will be used in screening against several cancer lines using both cell death-based phenotypic screening and activity-based protein profiling, followed by chemical proteomics to identify novel small molecule anticancer therapeutics and to elucidate their mechanism of action.

  • Accumulation of 8, 9-unsaturated sterols drives oligodendrocyte formation and remyelination
    Nature (2018, 560, 372-376)

  • Diverse chemical scaffolds enhance oligodendrocyte formation by inhibiting CYP51,
    TM7SF2, or EBP, Cell Chem. Biol. (2018)

  • 2-Chloropropionamide as a low-reactivity electrophile for irreversible small-molecule probe identification,
    ACS Chem. Biol. (2017, 12, 2124-2131)

  • Mycobacterium tuberculosishas diminished capacity to counteract redox stress induced by elevated levels of endogenous superoxide,
    Free Rad. Biol. Med. (2015, 84, 344-354)

  • Substituent effects on reactive oxygen species (ROS) generation by hydroquinones,
    J. Org. Chem. (2014, 79, 9413-9417)

  • Arylboronate ester based diazeniumdiolates (BORO/NO), a class of hydrogen peroxide inducible nitric oxide (NO) donors,
    Org. Lett. (2014, 16, 2610-2613)

  • A small molecule for controlled generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS),
    Org. Lett. (2014, 16, 398-401)

  • Design, synthesis and evaluation of small molecule reactive oxygen species generators as selective Mycobacterium tuberculosis inhibitors,
    Chem.Commun. (2012, 48, 10325-10327)

  • Dow Chemical International Private Limited, Pune, 2007-2009

  • Assistant Professor, IIT Kanpur, 2013-2018

  • Indian Institute of Science Education and Research-Pune, 2010-2015

  • Case Western Reserve University-Ohio, 2015-2018

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Chemistry, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, 2018-


SL 206, Southern laboratories
Department of Chemistry
IIT Kanpur,
Kanpur 208016

Office Phone: 0512-259-2086

Email: atdharma[AT]iitk.ac.in

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