Professional Education

  • Ph.D., Harvard University, Biophysics (2012)
  • S.M., Harvard University, Applied Mathematics (2008)
  • A.B., Harvard University, Chemistry and Physics (2006)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications

  • Directed evolution using dCas9-targeted somatic hypermutation in mammalian cells. Nature methods Hess, G. T., Frésard, L., Han, K., Lee, C. H., Li, A., Cimprich, K. A., Montgomery, S. B., Bassik, M. C. 2016


    Engineering and study of protein function by directed evolution has been limited by the technical requirement to use global mutagenesis or introduce DNA libraries. Here, we develop CRISPR-X, a strategy to repurpose the somatic hypermutation machinery for protein engineering in situ. Using catalytically inactive dCas9 to recruit variants of cytidine deaminase (AID) with MS2-modified sgRNAs, we can specifically mutagenize endogenous targets with limited off-target damage. This generates diverse libraries of localized point mutations and can target multiple genomic locations simultaneously. We mutagenize GFP and select for spectrum-shifted variants, including EGFP. Additionally, we mutate the target of the cancer therapeutic bortezomib, PSMB5, and identify known and novel mutations that confer bortezomib resistance. Finally, using a hyperactive AID variant, we mutagenize loci both upstream and downstream of transcriptional start sites. These experiments illustrate a powerful approach to create complex libraries of genetic variants in native context, which is broadly applicable to investigate and improve protein function.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nmeth.4038

    View details for PubMedID 27798611

  • M13 Bacteriophage Display Framework That Allows Sortase-Mediated Modification of Surface-Accessible Phage Proteins BIOCONJUGATE CHEMISTRY Hess, G. T., Cragnolini, J. J., Popp, M. W., Allen, M. A., Dougan, S. K., Spooner, E., Ploegh, H. L., Belcher, A. M., Guimaraes, C. P. 2012; 23 (7): 1478-1487


    We exploit bacterial sortases to attach a variety of moieties to the capsid proteins of M13 bacteriophage. We show that pIII, pIX, and pVIII can be functionalized with entities ranging from small molecules (e.g., fluorophores, biotin) to correctly folded proteins (e.g., GFP, antibodies, streptavidin) in a site-specific manner, and with yields that surpass those of any reported using phage display technology. A case in point is modification of pVIII. While a phage vector limits the size of the insert into pVIII to a few amino acids, a phagemid system limits the number of copies actually displayed at the surface of M13. Using sortase-based reactions, a 100-fold increase in the efficiency of display of GFP onto pVIII is achieved. Taking advantage of orthogonal sortases, we can simultaneously target two distinct capsid proteins in the same phage particle and maintain excellent specificity of labeling. As demonstrated in this work, this is a simple and effective method for creating a variety of structures, thus expanding the use of M13 for materials science applications and as a biological tool.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/bc300130z

    View details for Web of Science ID 000306452500015

    View details for PubMedID 22759232

  • Translation readthrough mitigation NATURE Arribere, J. A., Cenik, E. S., Jain, N., Hess, G. T., Lee, C. H., Bassik, M. C., Fire, A. Z. 2016; 534 (7609): 719-?


    A fraction of ribosomes engaged in translation will fail to terminate when reaching a stop codon, yielding nascent proteins inappropriately extended on their C termini. Although such extended proteins can interfere with normal cellular processes, known mechanisms of translational surveillance are insufficient to protect cells from potential dominant consequences. Here, through a combination of transgenics and CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing in Caenorhabditis elegans, we demonstrate a consistent ability of cells to block accumulation of C-terminal-extended proteins that result from failure to terminate at stop codons. Sequences encoded by the 3' untranslated region (UTR) were sufficient to lower protein levels. Measurements of mRNA levels and translation suggested a co- or post-translational mechanism of action for these sequences in C. elegans. Similar mechanisms evidently operate in human cells, in which we observed a comparable tendency for translated human 3' UTR sequences to reduce mature protein expression in tissue culture assays, including 3' UTR sequences from the hypomorphic 'Constant Spring' haemoglobin stop codon variant. We suggest that 3' UTRs may encode peptide sequences that destabilize the attached protein, providing mitigation of unwelcome and varied translation errors.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/nature18308

    View details for Web of Science ID 000378676000044

    View details for PubMedID 27281202

  • Orthogonal Labeling of M13 Minor Capsid Proteins with DNA to Self-Assemble End-to-End Multiphage Structures ACS SYNTHETIC BIOLOGY Hess, G. T., Guimaraes, C. P., Spooner, E., Ploegh, H. L., Belcher, A. M. 2013; 2 (9): 490-496


    M13 bacteriophage has been used as a scaffold to organize materials for various applications. Building more complex multiphage devices requires precise control of interactions between the M13 capsid proteins. Toward this end, we engineered a loop structure onto the pIII capsid protein of M13 bacteriophage to enable sortase-mediated labeling reactions for C-terminal display. Combining this with N-terminal sortase-mediated labeling, we thus created a phage scaffold that can be labeled orthogonally on three capsid proteins: the body and both ends. We show that covalent attachment of different DNA oligonucleotides at the ends of the new phage structure enables formation of multiphage particles oriented in a specific order. These have potential as nanoscale scaffolds for multi-material devices.

    View details for DOI 10.1021/sb4000195

    View details for Web of Science ID 000324842100002

    View details for PubMedID 23713956

  • Cellular binding, motion, and internalization of synthetic gene delivery polymers BIOCHIMICA ET BIOPHYSICA ACTA-MOLECULAR CELL RESEARCH Hess, G. T., Humphries, W. H., Fay, N. C., Payne, C. K. 2007; 1773 (10): 1583-1588


    Using fluorescence microscopy we have tracked the cellular binding, surface motion, and internalization of polyarginine and polyethylenimine, cationic ligands used for gene and protein delivery. Each ligand was complexed with a quantum dot to provide a photostable probe. Transfection with exogenous DNA was used to relate the observed motion to gene delivery. Cell surface motion was independent of sulfated proteoglycans, but dependent on cholesterol. Cellular internalization required sulfated proteoglycans and cholesterol. These observations suggest that sulfated proteoglycans act as cellular receptors for the cationic ligands, rather than only passive binding sites. Understanding the interaction of polyarginine and polyethylenimine with the plasma membrane may assist in designing more efficient gene delivery systems.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbamcr.2007.07.009

    View details for Web of Science ID 000250528400009

    View details for PubMedID 17888530

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