Our laboratory is interested in using multidisciplinary approaches including structure biology (NMR together with X-ray crystallography), biochemistry, chemical biology and cell biology to pursue important biological questions related to human health & diseases, and to reveal detailed underlying molecular mechanisms. We focus on key biological macromolecules and aim to decipher their structures, functions as well as how do small molecules regulate their functions.
Current researches in our laboratory are mainly focused on the following three topics:
1. Structural and functional studies of important proteins involved in autophagy pathway. Autophagy is a tightly regulated lysosome-dependent intracellular catabolic process involving degradation of protein aggregates, dysfunctional organelles and invading pathogens to adapt to multiple cellular stresses and to maintain cellular homeostasis. It plays essential roles in numerous human physiological processes, such as embryogenesis, immune response and aging. Dysfunction or deficiency of autophagy is associated with a large number of human diseases including cancer, inflammation and neurodegenerative diseases. The recent explosion of interest in autophagy has prompted tremendous progresses in this field. However, many fundamental questions in the autophagy field remain unknown. Currently, we seek to answer: How are substrates specifically recognized and targeted for selective autophagy? How is the autophagosome transported in the cell? How does the autophagosome fuse with the lysosome?
2. Mechanistic studies of bioactive small molecules and targets interactions.
3. SAR-by-NMR based bioactive small molecules screen, optimization and additional drug design related to human cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.