My formal training is in the area of synthetic organic chemistry; however, my research interests have evolved over the last 20 years to utilize biochemistry, molecular biology, and analytical chemistry tools. I am interested in biosynthesis and anaerobic energy metabolism as targets for new anti-parasitic drugs. This is the theme of undergraduate research projects in my lab, and advanced topics courses that I teach. I also have a passion for art, and have integrated this with chemistry to develop an “Art and Chemistry” course for non-majors.
Stairs, C. E.; Eme, L.; Muñoz-Gόmez, S. A.; Cohen, A.; Dellaire, G.; Shepherd, J. N.; Fawcett, J. P.; Roger, A. W. “Microbial eukaryotes have adapted to hypoxia by horizontal acquisitions of a gene involved in rhodoquinone biosynthesis,” eLife 2018, 7:e34292. DOI: https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.34292.001
Allan, C. M.; Hill, S.; Morvaridi, S.; Saiki, R.; Johnson, J. S.; Liau, W-S.; Hirano, K.; Kawashima, T.; Ji, Z.; Loo, J. A.; Shepherd, J. N.; Clarke, C. F. “A conserved START domain coenzyme Q-binding polypeptide is required for efficient Q biosynthesis, respiratory electron transport, and antioxidant function in Saccharomyces cervisiae,” Biochim. Biophys. Acta 2013, 1831, 776-791.
Lonjers, Z. T.*; Dickson, E. L.*; Chu, T-P T.*; Kreutz, J. E.*; Neacsu, F. A.; Anders, K. R.; Shepherd, J. N. “Identification of a New Gene Required for the Biosynthesis of Rhodoquinone in Rhodospirillum rubrum,” J. Bacteriol. 2012, 194, 965-971.
Murphy, K.; Kubin, Z. J.*; Shepherd, J. N.; Ettinger, R. H. “Valeriana officinalis Root Extracts have Potent Anxiolytic Effects in Laboratory Rats,” Phytomedicine 2010, 17, 674-678.
Brajcich, B. C.*; Iarocci, A. L.*; Johnstone, L. A. G.*; Morgan, R. K.*; Lonjers, Z. T.*; Hotchko, M. J.*; Muhs, J. D.*; Kieffer, A.*; Reynolds, B. J.; Mandel, S. M.; Marbois, B. N.; Clarke, C. F.; Shepherd, J. N. “Evidence that Ubiquinone is a Required Intermediate for Rhodoquinone Biosynthesis in Rhodospirillum rubrum,” J. Bacteriol. 2010, 192, 436-445.
Paddock, M. L.; Flores, M.; Isaacson, R.; Shepherd, J. N.; Okamura, M. Y. “EPR and ENDOR Investigation of Rhodosemiquinone in Bacterial Reaction Centers Formed by B-branch Electron Transfer,” Appl. Magn. Reson. 2010, 37, 39-48.
(* indicates Gonzaga student author)
Dr. Shepherd’s research seeks to elucidate the biosynthetic pathway of rhodoquinone (RQ) which will later be used as a target for the development of new anti-parasitic drugs. RQ is an essential electron carrier used in the anaerobic energy metabolism of species such as the parasitic helminths, the free-living nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans), and the purple non-sulfur bacterium, Rhodospirillum rubrum (R. rubrum). RQ is not synthesized or used in humans and other mammals with a primarily aerobic energy metabolism. However, RQ is structurally similar to ubiquinone (coenzyme Q or Q), an important lipid component involved in electron transport in the aerobic respiratory chain, and the biosynthetic pathways of RQ and Q are proposed to be similar. The biosynthesis of Q has been well-characterized in both prokaryotic and eukaryotic species.
Research Grants Funded
- “Elucidation and Regulation of Rhodoquinone Biosynthesis in Rhodospirillum rubrum,” National Institutes of Health, AREA R-15 program, $241,355, for award period: 8/1/11-7/31/15.
- “RUI: Purchase of a Liquid Chromatograph Time-of-Flight Mass Spectrometer,” National Science Foundation, CRIF-MU program, $286,753, for award period: 2/1/08-1/31/11.
- “CAREER: Rhodoquinone Biosynthesis and Anthelmintic Agent Design,” National Science Foundation, Division of Chemistry, $355,000 for award period: 9/01/02 – 8/31/07.
- “RUI: Acquisition of a 300 MHz Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectrometer,” National Science Foundation, Division of Chemistry Instrumentation and Facilities, $133,795 for award period: 9/01/00 - 8/31/03.
- “The Biosynthesis of Rhodoquinone: A New Target for Anthelmintic Drug Design,” Research Corporation, Cottrell College Science Award, $42,738 for award period: 06/01/00 - 09/01/01.
Recent Presentations with Gonzaga Undergraduates
- 2017 Experimental Biology Conference (ASBMB Annual Meeting), Chicago, IL, April 22-25, 2017:
(a) Shannon Babcock* and Jennifer N. Shepherd, “Elucidating the Biosynthetic Pathway of Rhodoquinone in C. elegans,” poster presentation.
(b) Amanda Martin* and Jennifer N. Shepherd, “Determining the Rhodoquinone Biosynthetic Pathway in Rhodospirillum rubrum Using Gene Knock-outs, “poster presentation.
(c) Alison Zander* and Jennifer N. Shepherd, “Overexpression and Characterization of the rquA Gene Product Involved in the Biosynthesis of Rhodoquinone,” poster presentation.
- 249th American Chemical Society National Meeting, Denver, CO, March 26-28, 2015:
(a) Madeline Kuenzi* and Jennifer N. Shepherd, “Effects of deletion of the Rru_A3004 gene on rhodoquinone biosynthesis in Rhodospirillum rubrum,” poster presentation.
(b) Benjamin Titus* and Jennifer N. Shepherd, "Analysis of rhodoquinone production in knockout strain candidates in Rhodospirillum rubrum," poster presentation.
(c) Helen Xun* and Jennifer N. Shepherd, “Identification of Genes Involved in RQ9 Biosynthesis in C. elegans using RNAi Knockdowns,” poster presentation.
- 247th American Chemical Society National Meeting, Dallas, TX, March 17, 2014:
(a) Adam Blount* and Jennifer N. Shepherd, “The purification and characterization of RquA,” poster presentation.
(b) Alysha Labrum* and Jennifer N. Shepherd, “Investigation of putative GATase genes for the rhodoquinone biosynthesis pathway of R. rubrum via gene knockouts,” poster presentation.
- Monica Schroll* and Jennifer N. Shepherd, “Identification of an amidotransferase gene required for rhodoquinone biosynthesis in Rhodospirillum rubrum,” poster presentation at the American Society for Microbiology Meeting, Denver, CO, May 18, 2013.
- Erin L. Dickson* and Jennifer N. Shepherd, "Characterization of a Putative Methyltransferase Involved in Rhodoquinone Biosynthesis in Rhodospirillum rubrum," poster presentation at the American Chemical Society 243rd National Meeting, San Diego, CA, March 26, 2012.