Ma, Che Alex

MaC 6x7Professor
Division Director of Chemical Biology




  • B.S., Chemistry, National Taiwan University, 1992
  • M.S., Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, 1996
  • Ph.D., Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania, 2000
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, University of California at San Diego, 2001
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, The Scripps Research Institute, 2001–2004
  • Assistant Professor, Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, 2004-2010
  • Associate Professor, Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, 2010-2019
  • Visiting Scientist, RIKEN SPring-8 Center, Japan, 2016 – present
  • Division Director of Chemical Biology, GRC, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, 2016 – present
  • Professor, Genomics Research Center, Academia Sinica, Taiwan, 2019-present


  • University of Pennsylvania, Teaching Assistant Award, 1995
  • Keystone Symposia Scholarship, Frontiers of Structural Biology, 2003
  • The Skaggs Postdoctoral Fellowship, 2001–2003
  • TWAS Young Affiliate, 2009-2013
  • Academia Sinica Significant Research Achievements, 2009
  • Academia Sinica Research Award for Junior Research Investigators, 2010
  • Two research highlights in Taiwan Yearbook of Technology, 2010
  • The Young Scholar Award of Tien-De Li Biomedical Foundation, 2011
  • Academia Sinica Significant Research, 2012
  • Academia Sinica Career Development Award, 2013
  • Exceptional Merit in Academic Award from Chung Hwa Rotary Educational Foundation, 2014
  • Taiwan Bio-Development Foundation Chair in Biotechnology, 2014


Structure of membrane proteins in drug discovery

The research focus of our laboratory is to study the structure and function of membrane proteins, and to understand their relationships in human diseases. Major efforts have been made over the last few years into the two topics in infectious diseases. First, in order to overcome the problems of drug-resistant bacterial infection, a new enzyme target for antibiotic development, the membrane-bound bifunctional transglycosylase, has been chosen for structural and functional analysis. We have successfully determined the X-ray crystal structure of this membrane-bound enzyme in complex with its inhibitor moenomycin, and studied its mechanism of peptidoglycan synthesis. In addition, a high-throughput screening method for finding new antibiotics has been developed using the purified full-length membrane protein. In parallel, structure-based drug design with our crystal structure is ongoing. Second, we have studied the effect of glycosylation on influenza virus major surface protein hemagglutinin (HA) with regards to its role in receptor binding and immune response, and developed a new strategy for molecular vaccine design.

figure copy-smallStructure of PBP1b-moenomycin complex provides critical information for new antibiotic development.



  • Jan JT, Cheng TR, Juang YP, Ma HH, Wu YT, Yang WB, Cheng CW, Chen X, Chou TH, Shie JJ, Cheng WC, Chein RJ, Mao SS, Liang PH*, Ma C*, Hung SC*, Wong CH*, 2021, “Identification of existing pharmaceuticals and herbal medicines as inhibitors of SARS-CoV-2 infection.”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 118(5).
  • Liu YM, Shahed-Al-Mahmud M, Chen X, Chen TH, Liao KS, Lo JM, Wu YM, Ho MC, Wu CY, Wong CH, Jan JT, Ma C*, 2020, “A carbohydrate-binding protein from the edible Lablab beans effectively blocks the infections of influenza viruses and SARS-CoV-2”, Cell Reports, 108016. (SCIE) (IF: 8.109; SCIE ranking: 15.4%)
  • Zhou D, Duyvesteyn HME, Chen CP, Huang CG, Chen TH, Shih SR, Lin YC, Cheng CY, Cheng SH, Huang YC, Lin TY, Ma C, Huo J, Carrique L, Malinauskas T, Ruza RR, Shah PNM, Tan TK, Rijal P, Donat RF, Godwin K, Buttigieg KR, Tree JA, Radecke J, Paterson NG, Supasa P, Mongkolsapaya J, Screaton GR, Carroll MW, Gilbert-Jaramillo J, Knight ML, James W, Owens RJ, Naismith JH, Townsend AR, Fry EE, Zhao Y, Ren J, Stuart DI, Huang KYA, 2020, “Structural basis for the neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 by an antibody from a convalescent patient”, Nature Structural & Molecular Biology, 25. (SCIE) (IF: 11.98; SCIE ranking: 4.7%,2.8%,7.7%)
  • Huang CF, Chang WH, Lee TK, Joti Y, Nishino Y, Kimura T, Suzuki A, Bessho Y, Lee TT, Chen MC, Yang SM, Hwu Y, Huang SH, Li PN, Chen P, Tseng YC, Ma C, Hsu TL, Wong CH, Tono K, Ishikawa T, Liang KS, 2020, “XFEL coherent diffraction imaging for weakly scattering particles using heterodyne interference”, AIP Advances, 10(5) 055219. (SCIE) (IF: 1.337; SCIE ranking: 46.2%,84.8%)
  • Chen JR, Liu YM, Tseng YC, Ma C*, 2020, “Better influenza vaccines: an industry perspective”, Journal of Biomedical Science, 27(1). (SCIE) (IF: 5.762; SCIE ranking: 24.1%,12.2%)
  • Liao HY, Wang SC, Ko YA, Lin KI, Ma C, Cheng TR, Wong CH, 2020, “Chimeric hemagglutinin vaccine elicits broadly protective CD4 and CD8 T cell responses against multiple influenza strains and subtypes.”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 117(30), 17757-17763.
  • Tseng YC, Wu CY, Liu ML, Chen TH, Chiang WL, Yu YH, Jan JT, Lin KI, Wong CH*, and Ma C*, 2019, “Egg-based influenza split virus vaccine with monoglycosylation induces cross-strain protection against influenza virus infections”, PROCEEDINGS OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SCIENCES OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, 116(10), 4200-4205. (SCIE) (IF: 9.412; SCIE ranking: 11.3%)
  • Chen X, Wong CH, Ma C*, 2019, “Targeting the Bacterial Transglycosylase: Antibiotic Development from a Structural Perspective”, ACS Infectious Diseases, 5(9) 1493-1504. (SCIE) (IF: 4.614; SCIE ranking: 16.4%,17.4%)
  • Huang KA, Rijal P, Jiang H, Wang B, Schimanski L, Dong T, Liu YM, Chang P, Iqbal M, Wang MC, Chen Z, Song R, Huang CC, Yang JH, Qi J, Lin TY, Li A, Powell TJ, Jan JT, Ma C, Gao GF, Shi Y, Townsend AR, 2018, “Structure-function analysis of neutralizing antibodies to H7N9 influenza from naturally infected humans.”, Nature microbiology, 4(2): 306-315. (SCIE) (IF: 15.54; SCIE ranking: 2.9%)
  • Chen CL, Hsu JC, Lin CW, Wang CH, Tsai MH, Wu CY, Wong CH*, Ma C*, 2017, “Crystal Structure of a Homogeneous IgG-Fc Glycoform with the N-Glycan Designed to Maximize the Antibody Dependent Cellular Cytotoxicity.”, ACS chemical biology, 12(5), 1335-1345. (SCIE) (IF: 4.434; SCIE ranking: 26.6%)
  • Chen CP, Lin MH, Chan YT, Chen LC, Ma C*, Fischer WB*, 2016, “Membrane protein assembly: two cytoplasmic phosphorylated serine sites of Vpu from HIV-1 affect oligomerization.”, Scientific reports, 6, 28866. (SCIE) (IF: 3.998; SCIE ranking: 23.9%)
  • Lin CW, Tsai MH, Li ST, Tsai TI, Chu KC, Liu YC, Lai MY, Wu CY, Tseng YC, Shivatare SS, Wang CH, Chao P, Wang SY, Shih HW, Zeng YF, You TH, Liao JY, Tu YC, Lin YS, Chuang HY, Chen CL, Tsai CS, Huang CC, Lin NH, Ma C, Wu CY, Wong CH, 2015, “A common glycan structure on immunoglobulin G for enhancement of effector functions.”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 112(34), 10611-6. (SCIE) (IF: 9.412; SCIE ranking: 11.3%)
  • Wright JD., Chu HM, Huang CH, Ma C, Chang TW, Lim C, 2015, “Structural and Physical Basis for Anti-IgE Therapy”, Scientific Reports, 5(1), 11581. (SCIE) (IF: 3.998; SCIE ranking: 23.9%)
  • Wu HH, Hwang-Verslues WW, Lee WH, Huang CK, Wei PC, Chen CL, Shew JY, Lee EY, Jeng YM, Tien YW, Ma C, Lee WH, 2015, “Targeting IL-17B-IL-17RB signaling with an anti-IL-17RB antibody blocks pancreatic cancer metastasis by silencing multiple chemokines.”, The Journal of experimental medicine, 212(3), 333-349. (SCIE) (IF: 11.743; SCIE ranking: 5.7%,2.9%)
  • Huang CK, Yang CY, Jeng YM, Chen CL, Wu HH, Chang YC, Ma C, Kuo WH, Chang KJ, Shew JY, Lee WH, 2014, “Autocrine/paracrine mechanism of interleukin-17B receptor promotes breast tumorigenesis through NF-kappaB-mediated antiapoptotic pathway.”, Oncogene, 33, 2968-2977. (SCIE) (IF: 7.971; SCIE ranking: 15.9%,7.9%,9.8%,10.7%)
  • Chen PC, Chuang PK, Chen CH, Chan YT, Chen JR, Lin SW, Ma C, Hsu TL, Wong CH, 2014, “Role of N-linked glycans in the interactions of recombinant HCV envelope glycoproteins with cellular receptors.”, ACS chemical biology, 9(7), 1437-1443. (SCIE) (IF: 4.434; SCIE ranking: 26.6%)
  • Kung CC, Naik MT, Wang SH, Shih HM, Chang CC, Lin LY, Chen CL, Ma C, Chang CF, Huang TH, 2014, “Structural analysis of poly-SUMO chain recognition by the RNF4-SIMs domain.”, The Biochemical journal, 462(1), 53-65. (SCIE) (IF: 4.097; SCIE ranking: 32%)
  • Chen JR, Yu YH, Tseng YC, Chiang WL, Chiang MF, Ko YA, Chiu YK, Ma HH, Wu CY, Jan JT, Lin KI*, Ma C*, Wong CH*, 2014, “Vaccination of monoglycosylated hemagglutinin induces cross-strain protection against influenza virus infections.”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 111(7), 2476-2481. (SCIE) (IF: 9.412; SCIE ranking: 11.3%)
  • Huang CY, Shih HW, Lin LY, Tien YW, Cheng TJR, Cheng WC, Wong CH*, and Ma C*, 2012, “Crystal structure of Staphylococcus aureus transglycosylase in complex with a lipid II analog and elucidation of peptidoglycan synthesis mechanism”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(17), 6496-6501. (SCIE) (IF: 9.412; SCIE ranking: 11.3%)
  • Shih HW, Chang YF, Li WJ, Meng FC, Huang CY, Ma C, Cheng TJ, Wong CH, Cheng WC, 2012, “Effect of the peptide moiety of Lipid II on bacterial transglycosylase.”, Angewandte Chemie-International Edition, 51(40), 10123-10126. (SCIE) (IF: 12.959; SCIE ranking: 8.5%)
  • Chen JR, Ma C*, Wong CH*, 2011, “Vaccine design of hemagglutinin glycoprotein against influenza.”, Trends in biotechnology, 29, 426-434. (SCIE) (IF: 14.343; SCIE ranking: 1.9%)
  • Sung MT, Lai YT, Huang CY, Chou LY, Shih HW, Cheng WC, Wong CH* and Ma C*, 2009, “Crystal structure of the membrane-bound bifunctional transglycosylase PBP1b from Escherichia coli”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106, 8824-8829. (SCIE) (IF: 9.412; SCIE ranking: 11.3%)
  • Wang CC, Chen JR, Tseng YC, Hsu CH, Hung YF, Chen SW, Chen CM, Khoo KH, Cheng TJ, Cheng YSE, Jan JT, Wu CY, Ma C* and Wong CH*, 2009, “Glycans on influenza hemagglutinin affect receptor binding and immune response”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 106, 18137-18142. (SCIE) (IF: 9.412; SCIE ranking: 11.3%)
  • Cheng TJR, Sung MT, Liao HY, Chang YF, Chen CW, Huang CY, Chou LY, Wu YD, Chen YH, Cheng YSE, Wong CH*, Ma C* and Cheng WC*, 2008, “Domain requirement of moenomycin binding to bifunctional transglycosylases and development of high-throughput discovery of antibiotics”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105, 431-436. (SCIE) (IF: 9.412; SCIE ranking: 11.3%)
  • Ma C, Marassi FM, Jones DH, Straus SK, Bour S, Strebel K, Schubert U, Oblatt-Montal M, Montal M and Opella SJ, 2002, “Expression, purification, and activities of full-length and truncated versions of the integral membrane protein Vpu from HIV-1”, Protein Sci., 11, 546-557. (SCIE) (IF: 3.876; SCIE ranking: 35.4%)
  • Opella SJ, Ma C and Marassi FM, 2001, “Nuclear magnetic resonance of membrane-associated peptides and proteins”, Methods in Enzymology, 339, 285-313. (SCIE) (IF: 1.394; SCIE ranking: 89.2%,87%)
  • Ma C and Opella SJ, 2000, “Lanthanide ions bind specifically to an added "EF-hand" and orient a membrane protein in micelles for solution NMR spectroscopy”, J. Magn. Reson., 146, 381-384. (SCIE) (IF: 2.624; SCIE ranking: 37.8%,28.6%,50.6%)
  • Marassi FM, Ma C, Gratkowski H, Straus SK, Strebel K, Oblatt-Montal M, Montal M and Opella SJ, 1999, “Correlation of the structural and functional domains in the membrane protein Vpu from HIV-1”, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 96, 14336-14341. (SCIE) (IF: 9.412; SCIE ranking: 11.3%)