Professor of Biochemistry
Focused on a career as a ballet dancer, Rachel took NO classes in science in high school (they interfered with ballet classes and rehearsals!). She danced with the Royal Winnipeg and the Portland Ballet companies for two years after graduating high school and then entered Reed College (Portland Oregon) where she took her first classes in Chemistry, Biology, and Physics and was enthralled. Graduating with a degree in Chemistry, Rachel became the first female Rhodes Scholar from the Pacific Northwest region (using dance as her “sport”), the awards having been opened to women only the year before. This took her to Oxford University where she began a lifelong fascination with NMR and its power to provide unprecedented insights into how proteins work. After a two-year post-doctoral fellowship at Duke University, she moved to University of Washington where she was on the Research Faculty in the Department of Chemistry. There, she used the brand-new techniques of two-dimensional NMR to solve the first de novo protein structure. She was hooked for life. She became Assistant Professor of Biochemistry at University of Washington and has happily remained in the department ever since. She is currently honored to be the Edmond H. Fischer/WRF Chair in Biochemistry.
Research Associate Professor of Biochemistry
Peter is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry. He has a long-standing interest in using biophysical techniques to study protein complexes. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Riverside where he worked on two projects. The first used using rapid-scanning stopped-flow spectroscopy to study the allosteric control of substrate channeling in the Tryptophan Synthase bienzyme complex from Salmonella typhimurium. The second utilized NMR spectroscopy to investigate the conformation of Insulin hexamers in response to the binding of ligands and metals. His growing interest in NMR led him to seek a post-doc position with Rachel Klevit’s group. Working with Rachel, they solved solution of structure of the BRCA1/BARD1 RING domain heterodimer which was subsequently shown to function as a Ubiquitin Ligase. This opened doors to several avenues of research including ongoing studies of BRCA1 and BARD1, the structure and function of Ubiquitin-Conjugating enzymes, and bacterial effector proteins that target or exploit eukaryotic Ubiquitin signaling pathways.
I am interested in the mechanisms underlying substrate ubiquitylation by RING-type E3 ligases. Specifically, I am looking at how several E3 ligases achieve remarkable specificity in targeting histone H2A in chromatin. To study this, I use fully reconstituted systems to perform biochemical assays in concert with protein NMR and cryo-EM.
Small heat shock proteins are chaperones that respond quickly to cellular stress events to prevent irreversible aggregation of client proteins. We are utilizing modern biophysical approaches and mutational analysis to gain mechanistic insight into small heat shock protein chaperone activity.
Maria’s interests are focused on two areas of protein research: 1) protein aggregation inhibition by chaperones and 2) intrinsically disordered proteins. She likes it best when these two are intertwined, which is exactly what she loves about small heat shock proteins. As she gets easily bored, she likes to try new methods and think of new ways to answer hard questions (which fits well since small heat shock proteins do not succumb easily to classical biochemistry methods). When she is not at work she enjoys the beautiful Pacific Northwest, either skiing or hiking, and when stationary at home she smokes meat and sings her heart out to the sound of her guitar.
Pearl is a postdoctoral fellow in the Klevit lab where she studies the structures and dynamics of a bacterial adhesion protein called FimH primarily through using NMR. Pearl is fascinated by the unusual properties of FimH including catch-bonds which are molecular interactions that paradoxically strengthen with increasing force and help bacteria evade clearance from the host during flow conditions in the intestinal and urinary tracts. She hopes that her research can aid in developing novel therapeutics to combat bacterial infections that impact communities worldwide. Pearl received her Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore, MD) and her B.A from Mount Holyoke College (South Hadley, MA). Originally from Uganda, she misses the hot sunny weather, but despite her dependence on cryogen-enabled superconducting magnets she has warmed up to the Emerald City with her trusty space heater underneath her workstation.
Katherine is a postdoctoral fellow in the Klevit lab. Her research focuses on probing conformational dynamics of ubiquitin signaling complexes, using structural mass spectrometry (HDX, XL-MS), NMR spectroscopy, and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). Outside of the lab, Katherine enjoys characterizing slow and fast action fly rods in the PNW.
My name is Tobias Ritterhoff. I was born and raised in Germany. I did my undergrad at the University of Heidelberg and the Charite Medical School in Berlin. During my PhD work in Frauke Melchiors lab I studied one of the few known SUMO E3 ligases, RanBP2 and its connection with the nuclear transport system. I joined the Klevit lab as a postdoc in 2015 with an interest in Ubiquitin E2 enzymes with unusual reactivities. My main project revolves around the hydroxy-reactive E2 enzyme Ubc6. I try to understand how Ubc6 handles its substrates: Ubiquitin and, more unusually, serine (or any other molecule with a hydroxy group); how its sequence and structural features relate to its reactivity and how it is activated by its cognate E3 ligases. Through studying these unusual examples of the Ubiquitin world, I hope to gain deeper insight into the molecular mechanism of E2s in general, of which our understanding is surprisingly limited.
Damien is a postdoctoral scientist in the Department of Genome Sciences interested in the rapid evolution of reproductive proteins. Despite the necessity of fertilization for most animal species, genes associated with reproduction tend to evolve faster than the rest of the genome. This diversity has made it challenging to elucidate the biochemical mechanisms underlying reproduction and fertilization. Damien integrates NMR-based structural biology with molecular evolution and proteomics to characterize how interacting male and female proteins rapidly coevolve through sexual arms races in mollusks (abalone), salamanders, and humans.
My research is aimed at characterizing the noncanonical yeast E2 Ubc6. I investigate its mechanism for ubiquitin discharge and attempt to identify critical residues between the E2 and Ub involved in coordinating this chemical reaction using NMR spectroscopy and in vitro enzymatic functional assays.
I work with Peter studying SspH1, a bacterial E3 Ligase. I also assist with protein purification for other Ubiquitin related projects. Along with Natalie, I also manage the lab, handling purchasing, training, lab safety, and other miscellaneous tasks.
I am interested in characterizing the N-terminal interactions of the small heat shock protein aB-crystallin through NMR and other biochemical techniques in order to better understand their contribution to the oligomerization and client binding of said protein. I also work on creating new constructs of aB-crystallin and related small heat shock proteins for study in our lab. Along with Thomas, I also manage the lab, handling purchasing, training, lab safety, and other miscellaneous tasks.
Lisa is a staff scientist in the Klevit lab. She manages the various lab instruments including the Magnets, SEC-MALS, CD, and fluorometer. Her research interests include fuzzy complexes formed by IDRs and their binding partners, specifically those involved in transcription regulation
My research hinges on the necessity of BARD1 for nucleosomal ubiquitylation of histone H2A. I aim to investigate somatic mutations recorded in the BARD1 RING domain of cancer patients and assess their significance using in vitro assays.
Klevit trainees: Pre-doctoral & Post-doctoral
Paul DaRosa (co-mentor)
Post-doc, Stanford Univ.
Post-doc, Univ. of Utah
Biotech Manger, Competitive Intelligence, Seattle Genetics
Assistant Professor, OHSU
Senior Policy Advisor, MIT Washington Office
Head of Microbial Cleaning, Novozymes
Head of US Crystallography, UCB
Res. Scientist, Univ of Utah
Associate Director, Research IT Experience & Engagement Lead, Merck
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Chemistry & Chemical Biology, Rutgers Univ.
Research Chemist, NOAA Fisheries, Alaska
Jose Meza (co-mentor)
Assistant Professor, Dept. of Molecular and Cellular Oncology, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Associate Director, Drug Discovery, UCLA Clinical and Translational Institute
Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Ill./Chicago
Professor, Dept. of Medical Biophysics, Robarts Research, Canada
Res. Scientist, UW
Assistant Professor, Texas Christian Univ.
Res. Scientist, China
Itay Levin (co-mentor)
Director of Antibody Engineering, Biolojic Design
Product Manager, Bruker
Associate Director, Seattle Genetics
Director of Liberal Studies Program, Univ. of San Diego
Executive Director, Global Research IT & Informatics, Merck
Sr. Scientist, Eli Lilly
Res. Assoc. Prof., UW
Sr. Res. Scientist, retired
Sr. Scientist, retired
CEO, Olympic Protein Technologies