Catherine Drennan

Catherine Drennan

Professor of Biology and Chemistry; Investigator and Professor, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Undergraduate Officer

Catherine Drennan takes “snapshots” of metalloenzymes using crystallography and/or cryo-electron microscopy.





Read Schusky



Assistant Phone


  • PhD,1995, University of Michigan
  • BS, 1985, Chemistry, Vassar College

Research Summary

We use X-ray crystallography to investigate the structure and function of enzymes that are medically important in environmental remediation. We are particularly interested in metalloprotein biochemistry, and in the role of conformational change in catalysis.


  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Member, 2020
  • Dorothy Crowfoot Hodgkin Award, Protein Society, 2020
  • Margaret MacVicar Faculty Fellow, 2015-2025
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute, HHMI Investigator, 2008
  • Howard Hughes Medical Institute, HHMI Professor, 2006

Key Publications

Recent Publications

  1. Molecular basis of C-S bond cleavage in the glycyl radical enzyme isethionate sulfite-lyase. Dawson, CD, Irwin, SM, Backman, LRF, Le, C, Wang, JX, Vennelakanti, V, Yang, Z, Kulik, HJ, Drennan, CL, Balskus, EP et al.. 2021. Cell Chem Biol , .
    doi: 10.1016/j.chembiol.2021.03.001PMID:33773110
  2. Crystallographic Characterization of the Carbonylated A-Cluster in Carbon Monoxide Dehydrogenase/Acetyl-CoA Synthase. Cohen, SE, Can, M, Wittenborn, EC, Hendrickson, RA, Ragsdale, SW, Drennan, CL. 2020. ACS Catal 10, 9741-9746.
    doi: 10.1021/acscatal.0c03033PMID:33495716
  3. Structural basis for non-radical catalysis by TsrM, a radical SAM methylase. Knox, HL, Chen, PY, Blaszczyk, AJ, Mukherjee, A, Grove, TL, Schwalm, EL, Wang, B, Drennan, CL, Booker, SJ. 2021. Nat Chem Biol 17, 485-491.
    doi: 10.1038/s41589-020-00717-yPMID:33462497
  4. Biochemical and crystallographic investigations into isonitrile formation by a non-heme iron-dependent oxidase/decarboxylase. Jonnalagadda, R, Del Rio Flores, A, Cai, W, Mehmood, R, Narayanamoorthy, M, Ren, C, Zaragoza, JPT, Kulik, HJ, Zhang, W, Drennan, CL et al.. 2020. J Biol Chem , .
    doi: 10.1074/jbc.RA120.015932PMID:33361191
  5. Gated Proton Release during Radical Transfer at the Subunit Interface of Ribonucleotide Reductase. Cui, C, Greene, BL, Kang, G, Drennan, CL, Stubbe, J, Nocera, DG. 2021. J Am Chem Soc 143, 176-183.
    doi: 10.1021/jacs.0c07879PMID:33353307
  6. Discovery of a Cyclic Choline Analog That Inhibits Anaerobic Choline Metabolism by Human Gut Bacteria. Bollenbach, M, Ortega, M, Orman, M, Drennan, CL, Balskus, EP. 2020. ACS Med Chem Lett 11, 1980-1985.
    doi: 10.1021/acsmedchemlett.0c00005PMID:33062182
  7. Negative-Stain Electron Microscopy Reveals Dramatic Structural Rearrangements in Ni-Fe-S-Dependent Carbon Monoxide Dehydrogenase/Acetyl-CoA Synthase. Cohen, SE, Brignole, EJ, Wittenborn, EC, Can, M, Thompson, S, Ragsdale, SW, Drennan, CL. 2021. Structure 29, 43-49.e3.
    doi: 10.1016/j.str.2020.08.011PMID:32937101
  8. The Solvent-Exposed Fe-S D-Cluster Contributes to Oxygen-Resistance in Desulfovibrio vulgaris Ni-Fe Carbon Monoxide Dehydrogenase. Wittenborn, EC, Guendon, C, Merrouch, M, Benvenuti, M, Fourmond, V, Léger, C, Drennan, CL, Dementin, S. 2020. ACS Catal 10, 7328-7335.
    doi: 10.1021/acscatal.0c00934PMID:32655979
  9. Conformational Motions and Water Networks at the α/β Interface in E. coli Ribonucleotide Reductase. Reinhardt, CR, Li, P, Kang, G, Stubbe, J, Drennan, CL, Hammes-Schiffer, S. 2020. J Am Chem Soc 142, 13768-13778.
    doi: 10.1021/jacs.0c04325PMID:32631052
  10. Ribonucleotide Reductases: Structure, Chemistry, and Metabolism Suggest New Therapeutic Targets. Greene, BL, Kang, G, Cui, C, Bennati, M, Nocera, DG, Drennan, CL, Stubbe, J. 2020. Annu Rev Biochem 89, 45-75.
    doi: 10.1146/annurev-biochem-013118-111843PMID:32569524
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