The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Department of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
My research focuses on understanding the structure and function of bacterial nanomachines in situ by using cryo electron tomography (Cryo-ET). In recent years, we have developed a high-throughput pipeline for Cryo-ET data acquisition and processing. This pipeline allows us to automatically and massively collect data and further processing them. This pipeline has been successfully applied to many biological systems/specimens and has addressed many significant biological questions.
Understanding of the mechanisms underlying bacterial pathogenesis in humans is a major focus of microbiological research and the elucidation of the infectious process yields practical applications of new antibiotics and improved vaccines. My researches focus on understanding the structure and function of bacterial nanomachines in situ, including phage infection, bacterial flagellar motor and chemoreceptor proteins and bacterial secretion systems.
One example is the bacterial type III secretion system (T3SS). Many infectious bacteria such as Shigella and Salmonella use type III secretion machines, to transfer virulence proteins into eukaryotic host cells, cause diarrheal disease. In a very recent study, we report a high-resolution in situ structure of the Salmonella Typhimurium type III secretion machine obtained by high-throughput cryo-electron tomography and sub-tomogram averaging. Through molecular modeling and comparative analysis of machines assembled with protein-tagged components or from different deletion mutants, we determined the molecular architecture of the secretion machine in situ and localized its structural components.
Education & Training
Ph.D., Nankai University, 2010