John A. Allen
John A. Allen, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Department of Pharmacology and Toxicology

Contact Information:
Phone: (409) 772-9621
Fax: (409) 747-7050

B.S., Cell Biology, 2002, University of Illinois, Chicago, Illinois
Ph.D., Physiology and Biophysics, 2008, University of Illinois-School of Medicine
Postdoctoral Fellow, 2008-2011, Pharmacology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, NC

Research Interests:

The main emphasis of the research in the laboratory is to understand the signal transduction of G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) and to identify and advance GPCR targeted molecules for therapeutic drug discovery.  GPCRs are the largest group of signaling proteins in the human genome and an estimated 30-40% of all marketed drugs act directly to modulate this receptor family.  Our primary focus is the neuropharmacology of dopamine, serotonin and other GPCRs that control the striatum and basal ganglia neuronal system.  GPCRs within the striatum mediate reward behavior and movement coordination underlying not only addictive effects of abused drugs such as cocaine but also dysfunctions observed in movement disorders such as Parkinson's and Huntington's disease.  We apply a synergistic approach using cell/molecular, biochemical and systems pharmacology to reveal the mechanisms of GPCR signaling in cells, neurons and in the brain.  We also apply large scale screening technologies to identify novel GPCR ligands and test compounds for their therapeutic potential in rodent models of addiction and related neuropsychiatric diseases.

In our research we use a range of multidisciplinary approaches involving identification of GPCR signaling pathways using proteomics, measurement of GPCR signaling in neurons, drug discovery using high throughput screening platforms, microscopy and live cell imaging of neuronal GPCR trafficking and behavioral characterization of genetic mouse models with altered components of GPCR signaling machinery. 

Selected Publications:

  1. Gray DL, Allen JA, Mente S, O’Connor RE, DeMarco GJ, Efremov I, Tierney P, Volfson D, Davoren J, Guilmette E, Salafia M, Kozak R, and Ehlers MD. Impaired b-arrestin recruitment and reduced desensitization by non-catechol agonists of the D1 Dopamine receptor. (2018) Nature Communications (in press)
  2. Allen JA, Coe JW, Davoren JE, Dounay AB, Efremov IV, Gray DL et al. Heteroaromatic compounds and their use as Dopamine D1 ligands. (2017) United States patent 9,617,275.  Pfizer, Inc., assignee. April 11.
  3. Huang HS*, Allen JA*, Mabb AM, Mirilyala J, Taylor-Blake B, Sciaky N, Dutton JW, Lee HM, Chen X, Jin J, Bridges AS, Zylka M, Roth BL and Philpot, BD. Topoisomerase inhibitors unsilence the dormant allele of Ube3a in neurons. (2012) Nature Jan 12;485,185–189. (*, equal first author contribution)
  4. Dichter GS, Damiano CA and Allen JA. Reward circuitry dysfunction in psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders and genetic syndromes: animal models and clinical findings. (2012) Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders July 19; 4:20
  5. Allen JA and Roth BL. Strategies to discover unexpected targets for drugs active at G protein-coupled receptors. (2011) Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology Feb 10;51:117-44.
  6. Allen JA, Yost JM, Setola V, Chen X, Sassano MF, Chen M, Peterson S, Yadav PN, Huang XP, Feng B, Jensen NH, Che X, Bai X, Frye SV, Wetsel WC, Caron MG, Javitch JA, Roth BL and Jin J. Discovery of b-arrestin biased Dopamine D2 ligands for probing signal transduction pathways essential for antipsychotic efficacy. (2011) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Nov 8;108 (45):18488-93.
  7. Allen JA, Yadav PN, Setola V, Farrell MS and Roth BL. Schizophrenia risk gene CAV1 is both pro-psychotic and required for atypical antipsychotic drug actions in vivo. (2011) Translational Psychiatry 1, e33; doi:10.1038/tp.2011.35 (epub 16 Aug. 2011)
  8. Allen JA, Yu JZ, Dave R, Bhatnagar A, Roth BL and Rasenick MM. Caveolin-1 and lipid microdomains regulate Gαs trafficking and attenuate Gαs/adenylyl cyclase signaling. (2009) Molecular Pharmacology Nov;76(5):1082-93.
  9. Jones KA, Srivastava DP, Allen JA, Strachan RT, Roth BL and Penzes P. Rapid modulation of spine morphology by the 5-HT2A serotonin receptor through kalirin-7 signaling.(2009) Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Nov 17;106(46):19575-19580
  10.  Alexander GM, Rogan SC, Abbas AI, Armbruster BN, Pei Y, Allen JA, Nonneman RJ, Moy SS, Nicolelis MA, McNamara JO and Roth BL. Remote control of neuronal activity in transgenic mice expressing evolved G protein-coupled receptors. (2009) Neuron Jul 16;63(1):27-39.

Link to NCBI my biblography