Development of novel allosterically regulated transcriptional repressors
Allosterically regulated transcription regulators are the primary biological components for regulating gene expression in response to environmental changes in many organisms. These regulators contain a chemical sensing domain and a DNA binding domain in which the presence of a specific chemical modulates the interaction between the DNA binding domain and the DNA promoter, regulating transcription driven by that promoter. We are developing design principles to create hybrid regulators with the mix and match of chemical sensing properties and DNA binding properties from different proteins. These engineered regulators allow us to build new connections between chemical signals and promoters for driving expression of different genes, which can be harnessed for applications in academic research, biomedicine, and industry.
Design and construction of genetic networks to program cellular behaviors
In living organisms, various biological components interact with each other to form multi-layered genetic networks that control cellular response under different scenarios. We genetically modify biological systems to create genetic networks that realize novel behaviors. The goals of these studies are to understand intrinsic properties of biomolecular interactions and to develop engineered organisms with improved efficiency for biotechnological uses.
Studying cellular response pathways by using quantitative systems approaches
Microorganisms are evolved to adapt to rapid changes in their living environments by dynamic control of gene expression. To develop treatments for pathogens and other problem-causing microbes, we study how these species respond to stressful conditions by assessing changes in their molecular profiles with quantitative methods, such as mass spectrometry and RNA sequencing. We then use bioinformatics tools to identify cellular pathways that are potential targets for preventing unfavorable cellular activities.