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Jennifer Kohler completed her undergraduate degree in Chemistry at Bryn Mawr College.  Her Ph.D. studies, focused on the kinetics of protein-DNA interactions, were conducted in the laboratory of Prof. Alanna Schepartz, in the Chemistry Department at Yale University.  From 2000-2004, Jennifer was an American Cancer Society postdoctoral fellow with Prof. Carolyn Bertozzi at the University of California, Berkeley.  Research in the Kohler lab focuses on understanding the roles of glycoconjugates in a variety of biological systems.

Research summary

In 2012, the National Academy of Sciences published an expert report titled “Transforming Glycoscience: A Roadmap for the Future.” The central theme of this report is that “[a] new focus on glycoscience, a field that explores the structures and functions of sugars, promises great advances in areas as diverse as medicine, energy generation, and materials science…[h]owever, glycans have received little attention from the research community due to a lack of tools to probe their often complex structures and properties.” My research group at UT Southwestern develops new chemical biology methods that address challenges identified in this report. We developed photocrosslinking sugar analogs of both sialic acid and GlcNAc that can be metabolically incorporated into cellular glycoconjugates and used to identify transient glycan-mediated interactions. Using the photocrosslinking sialic acid analog, we discovered novel and functionally significant fucosylated binding partners for cholera toxin and validated the role of non-ganglioside host receptors for cholera toxin in vivo. Using the photocrosslinking GlcNAc analog, we obtained evidence that the O-GlcNAc is intimately associated with nucleoporin-karyopherin recognition events that occur during nuclear transport. We share our photocrosslinking reagents with research groups worldwide who are interesting in biological phenomena where glycosylation plays a critical role. We have also interfaced chemoselective glycan modification reactions with proteomics methods to develop a method to discover the glycoprotein substrates of sialidases. Our ongoing research program employs these and other glycobiology tools to understand the roles of glycosylation in intestinal epithelial tissue.


Graduate School
Yale University , Chemistry
Graduate School
Bryn Mawr College (1994), Chemistry

Research Interest

  • carbohydrates
  • chemical biology
  • glycobiology
  • Golgi
  • membrane proteins


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

The 2022 Nobel prize in chemistry - sweet!
Boyce M, Malaker SA, Riley NM, Kohler JJ, Glycobiology 2023 Mar
Engineering Glyco-Enzymes for Substrate Identification and Targeting
MWN Burns and JJ Kohler Israel Journal of Chemistry 2023
Exo-Enzymatic Addition of Diazirine-Modified Sialic Acid to Cell Surfaces Enables Photocrosslinking of Glycoproteins.
Yarravarapu N, Konada RSR, Darabedian N, Pedowitz NJ, Krishnamurthy SN, Pratt MR, Kohler JJ, Bioconjug Chem 2022 Apr
4-Deoxy-4-fluoro-GalNAz (4FGalNAz) Is a Metabolic Chemical Reporter of O-GlcNAc Modifications, Highlighting the Notable Substrate Flexibility of O-GlcNAc Transferase.
Jackson EG, Cutolo G, Yang B, Yarravarapu N, Burns MWN, Bineva-Todd G, Roustan C, Thoden JB, Lin-Jones HM, van Kuppevelt TH, Holden HM, Schumann B, Kohler JJ, Woo CM, Pratt MR, ACS Chem Biol 2021 Dec
Synthesis of Cell-Permeable N-Acetylhexosamine 1-Phosphates.
Kakde BN, Capota E, Kohler JJ, Tambar UK, J Org Chem 2021 Oct
What sugar does to your pores.
Kohler JJ, J Cell Biol 2021 Jul 220 7


Featured Books Legend Featured Books

Mass Spectrometry of Glycoproteins: Methods and Protocols

Jennifer J. Kohler & Steven M. Patrie (Ed.) (2012). Humana Press

Honors & Awards

  • Research Fellowship
    Alfred P. Sloan Foundation (2009)
  • Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar Research Award
    March of Dimes (2007)
  • CAREER Award
    National Science Foundation (2007)
  • New Faculty Award
    Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation (2005)

Professional Associations/Affiliations

  • Society for Glycobiology (2007)
  • American Chemical Society (1995)