Department of Chemistry

Xavier University of Louisiana

Terry J. Watt, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Telephone Number: 504-520-5271
Room Number: NCF - Room 314
Email Address:

Introduction to Biochemistry (3130), Introduction to Biochemistry Lab (3130L), Advanced Biochemistry (4060), Genomics & Proteomics Lab (4150L)

Short Professional Biography
  • B.S. in technical writing, Carnegie Mellon University.
  • B.S. in chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University.
  • M.S. in chemistry, Carnegie Mellon University.
  • Ph.D. in biochemistry, Georgia Institute of Technology (2007).
  • Postdoctoral research associate, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor (2008-2010).
  • Assistant professor of chemistry, Xavier University of Louisiana (2010-2016).
  • Associate professor of chemistry, Xavier University of Louisiana (2016- ).
Research Interest

Research in my group focuses on lysine deacetylases (KDACs or histone deacetylases), enzymes responsible for reversing the post-translational modification of acetylation.  Acetylation and deacetylation control numerous cellular processes, and contribute to progression of many genetically-associated diseases such as cancers.  Current research areas include:

  • identifying substrates of KDACs;
  • determining the cellular functions of KDACs;
  • characterizing specific interactions between KDACs and substrates.

Approaches and techniques used include enzyme kinetics, molecular biology, gene expression analysis, protein spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, molecular modeling, and cell culture.

Current Grant Support

Mavier University of Louisiana summer undergraduate research fellowships.  Foundation award (anonymous).  PI.  March 2016 - December 2019.

MRI: Acquisition of a matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization, time-of-flight (MALDI TOF) mass spectrometer at Xavier University of Louisiana.  National Science Foundation Major Research Instrumentation Program NSF CHE 1625993.  PI.  August 2016 - July 2019.

Determining the role of lysine deacetylases in the progression of lung diseases.  Xavier University of Louisiana RCMI Pilot.  Project PI.  April 2017 - March 2018.

Recent Publications

Toro TB, Painter RG, Haynes RA, Glotser EY, Bratton MR, Bryant JR, Nichols KA, Matthew-Onabanjo AN, Matthew AN, Bratcher DR, Perry CD, Watt TJ.  Purification of metal-dependent lysine deacetylases with consistently high activity.  Protein Exp. Purif. 2018, 141, 1-6.

Toro TB, Bryant JR, Watt TJ.  Lysine deacetylases exhibit distinct changes in activity profiles due to fluorophore-conjugation of substrates.  Biochemistry 2017, 56, 4549-4558.

Toro TB, Pingali S, Nguyen TP, Garrett DS, Dodson KA, Nichols KA, Haynes RA, Payton-Stewart F, Watt TJ.  KDAC8 with high basal velocity is not activated by N-acetylthioureas.  PLoS One 2016, 11, e0146900.

Toro TB, Watt TJ.  KDAC8 substrate specificity quantified by a biologically-relevant, label-free deacetylation assay.  Protein Sci. 2015, 24, 2020-2032.

Johanson KE, Watt TJ.  Inquiry-based experiments for large-scale introduction to PCR and restriction enzyme digests.  Biochem. Mol. Bio. Ed. 2015, 43, 441-448.

Toro TB, Nguyen TP, Watt TJ.  An improved 96-well turbidity assay for T4 lysozyme activity.  MethodsX 2015, 2, 256-262.

Johanson KE, Watt TJ, McIntyre NR, Thompson M.  Purification and characterization of enzymes from yeast: an extended undergraduate laboratory sequence for large classes.  Biochem. Mol. Bio. Ed. 2013, 41, 251-261.

Hougland JL, Hicks KA, Hartmann HL, Kelly RA, Watt TJ, Fierke CA.  Identification of novel peptide substrates for protein farnesyltransferase reveals two substrate classes with distinct sequence selectivities.  J. Mol. Bio. 2010, 395, 176-190.

Watt TJ, Doyle DF.  ESPSearch: a program for finding exact sequences and patterns in DNA, RNA, or protein.  Biotechniques 2005, 38, 109-115.

Department of Chemistry