Peng, Xiaohua

Milwaukee Institute for Drug Discovery (MIDD)

Associate Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry


Ph.D., University of Osnabrueck

Peng Group Website

Research Area

My research is interdisciplinary, focusing on nucleic acid chemistry and its applications in other fields including drug discovery, DNA diagnostics, and nanotechnology. A common thread in my research is in understanding the chemical reactivity and function of DNA. As the carrier of genetic information, understanding the chemistry of DNA is extremely important. Our group investigate the structural basis for carcinogenic and anticancer activity of DNA- and protein-modifying agents. Synthetic methodologies are developed to prepare structurally modified nucleosides and amino acids as potential antitumor, antiviral, and/or anticancer agents. We will use the tools of synthetic and physical organic chemistry, as well as biochemistry, and molecular biology for the mechanistic studies of their biological processes.

Our studies on nucleic acids are divided into the following principal areas.

  • DNA-DNA and DNA-protein cross-linking by antitumor drugs and bifunctional carcinogens
  • Drug/nucleic acids interactions
  • The use of modified nucleosides, nucleotides, and oligonucleotides as potential therapeutic agents
  • Modified peptide nucleic acids and their applications for DNA/RNA detection and DNA nanotechnology

My research spans several fields utilizing knowledge and techniques from many areas of science, including organic and bioorganic chemistry, bioanalytical chemistry, medicinal chemistry, materials science, and biology.

Selected Publications

  1. Chen, H. Fan, K. Balakrishnan, Y. Wang, H. Sun, Y. Fan, V. Gandhi, L. A. Arnold, X. Peng.* Discovery and Optimization of Novel Hydrogen Peroxide Activated Aromatic Nitrogen Mustard Derivatives as Highly Potent Anticancer AgentsJ. Med. Chem201861, 9132−9145
  2. Lin, H. Fan, Q. Zhang, X. Peng. Design, Synthesis, and Biological Investigation of New Binaphthalene Precursors as Efficient Photo-Activated DNA Interstrand Cross-Linkers. J. Org. Chem201883, 8815−8826.
  3. Fan, H. Sun, X. Peng. Substituents Have a Large Effect on Photochemical Generation of Benzyl Cations and DNA Cross-LinkingChem. Eur. J201824, 7671 – 7682.
  4. Wang, H. Fan, K. Balakrishnan, Z. Lin, S. Cao, W. Chen, Y. Fan, Q. A. Guthrie, H. Sun, K. A. Teske, V. Gandhi, L. A. Arnold, X. Peng. Hydrogen Peroxide Activated Quinone Methide Precursors with Enhanced DNA Cross-Linking Capability and Cytotoxicity towards Cancer CellsEur J Med Chem2017133, 197-207.
  5. Sun, H. Fan, H. Eom, X. Peng. Coumarin-Induced DNA Ligation, Rearrangement to DNA Interstrand Cross-Links, and Photo-Release of Coumarin MoietyChemBioChem201617, 2046–2053.
  6. Wang, Z. Lin, H. Fan, X. Peng. Photo-Induced DNA Interstrand Cross-Link Formation by Naphthalene Boronates via a CarbocationChem. Eur. J201622, 10382–10386.
  7. Wang, S. Liu, Z. Lin, Y. Fan, Y. Wang, X. Peng. Photochemical Generation of Benzyl Cations that Selectively Cross-Link Guanine and Cytosine in DNAOrg. Lett201618, 2544–2547.
  8. Fan, X. Peng. Novel DNA Cross-Linking ReagentsAdvances in Molecular Toxicology201610, 235-292.
  9. Han, W. Chen, Y. Kuang, H. Sun, Z. Wang, X. Peng. UV-Induced DNA Interstrand Cross-linking and Direct Strand Breaks from a New Type of Binitroimidazole AnaloguesChem. Res. Toxicol2015, 28, 915-926.
  10. Sun, H. Fan, X. Peng.* Quantitative DNA Interstrand Cross-link Formation by Coumarin and Thymine: Structure Determination, Sequence Effect, and Fluorescence DetectionJ. Org. Chem201479, 11359-11369.
  11. Chen, Y. Han, X. Peng.* Aromatic Nitrogen Mustard-Based Prodrugs: Activity, Selectivity, and the Mechanism of DNA Cross-linkingChem. Eur. J. 201420, 7410-7418.
  12. Chen, K. Balakrishman, Y. Kuang, Y. Han, M. Fu, V. Gandhi, X. Peng.* Reactive Oxygen Species (ROS) Inducible DNA Cross-Linking Agents and Their Effect on Cancer Cells and Normal LymphocytesJ. Med. Chem201457, 4498-4510.
  13. M. Haque, H. Sun, S. Liu, Y. Wang, X. Peng.* Photo-Switchable DNA Interstrand Cross-Link Formation by a Coumarin-Modified NucleotideAngew. Chem. Int. Ed201453, 7001-7005.
  14. Cao, Y. Wang, X. Peng.* The Leaving Group Strongly Affects H2O2‑Induced DNA Cross-Linking by ArylboronatesJ. Org. Chem. 201479, 501-508.
  15. Cao, X. Peng.* Exploiting Endogenous Cellular Process to Generate Quinone Methides in vivoCurr. Org. Chem. 201418, 70-85.
  16. M. Haque, X. Peng.* DNA Associated Click Chemistry. Sci. China Chem201457 (2), 215-231.