Assistant Professor
Assistant Professor Profile Image

Department of Chemistry
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
818C Hamilton Hall
Lincoln, NE 68588-0304
(402) 472-2654


Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison
B.A., St. Olaf College


2016-2019       Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow

Research Interests

Chemical biology, bioanalytical chemistry, design and synthesis of biomolecules, mass spectrometry, peptide-protein interactions, cellular communication

Current Research

Our work focuses on understanding neuropeptides and peptide hormones that act as cell-to-cell signaling molecules. These biomolecules are important because their functions underlie critical biological processes and complex behaviors. Mimicking or antagonizing peptide-receptor interactions are critical strategies for understanding normal cell-to-cell communication and for treating diseases caused by signal dysregulation. Despite their importance in biology, the molecular-level details governing the signaling of many peptides are not well-understood. To address this challenge, the Checco Lab develops strategies to identify previously uncharacterized peptide-protein interactions, and to design novel compounds to modulate these interactions in a desired manner. From this work, our research will advance the understanding of specific cell-cell signaling pathways, identify new pathways for further exploration, and provide innovative starting points for future therapeutics.

Some active areas of research in the group include:

  1. Identifying the receptors for specific neuropeptides and peptide hormones involved in disease.
  2. Organic synthesis of complex peptides containing non-natural functional groups for use as chemical probes.
  3. Mass spectrometry-based identification and quantification of the processed forms of neuropeptides and peptide hormones from biological samples.

Students and researchers in the Checco Lab gain expertise in a diverse set of synthetic, analytical, and biological techniques, including chemical peptide synthesis, mass spectrometry-based analysis of protein mixtures, cell culture, and cell-based signaling assays.

For more information, please visit the Checco Research Group Homepage.

Selected Publications

(1)   Yussif BM, Blasing CV, Checco JW “Endogenous L- to D-residue isomerization modulates selectivity between distinct neuropeptide receptor family members” Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. (2023) 120, e2217604120. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2217604120

(2)  Mousavi S, Qiu H, Heinis FI, Abid MSR, Andrews MT, Checco JW. “Short-term administration of common anesthetics does not dramatically change the endogenous peptide profile in the rat pituitary” ACS Chem. Neurosci. (2022) 13, 2888-2896. DOI: 10.1021/acschemneuro.2c00359

(3)   Abid MSR1, Qiu H1, Tripp BA, de Lima Leite A, Roth HE, Adamec J, Powers R*, Checco JW, Gellman SH. “Peptidomics analysis reveals changes in small urinary peptides in patients with interstitial cystitis/bladder pain syndrome” Sci. Rep. (2022) 12, 8289. DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-12197-2

(4)   Yussif BM, Checco JW. "Evaluation of endogenous peptide stereochemistry using liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry-based spiking experiments” Methods Enzymol. (2022) 663, 205-234. DOI: 10.1016/bs.mie.2021.10.009

(5)   Sharma S, Checco JW. “Evaluating functional ligand-GPCR interactions in cell-based assays.” Methods Cell Biol. (2021) 166, 15--42. DOI: 10.1016/bs.mcb.2021.06.006

(6)  Abid MSR1, Mousavi S1, Checco JW. “Identifying receptors for neuropeptides and peptide hormones: Challenges and recent progress” ACS Chem. Biol. (2021) 2, 251-263. DOI: 10.1021/acschembio.0c00950

1Equal Contribution