Our laboratory has a broad interest in microbial toxins, bacterial pathogenesis in human/animal/insects, and microbiome. Along these lines of basic research, we are keen in developing microbial protein-inspired novel therapeutics for treating genetic diseases, cancer, pain, and other neurological disorders. We have a multi-disciplinary team crossing microbiology, structural biology, protein engineering, cell biology, insect biology, and neuroscience fields. Recent achievements include identification of receptors for C. difficile toxin via genome-wide CRISPR-Cas9 screen (Nature, 2016, 538:350, Science, 2018, 360:664; Cell Host and Microbe, 2020, 27:782), identification and characterization of novel bacterial toxins (Nature Communications, 2017, 8:14130; Cell Host and Microbe, 2018, 23:169; Cell, 2022, 185:1), and protein engineering of botulinum neurotoxins (Nature Communications, 2017, 8:53; Science Translational Medicine, 2021, 13:eaaz4197; Science, 2021, 371:803). Current projects include:
(1) Mechanism of bacterial toxins and effectors: we are studying botulinum neurotoxins, tetanus neurotoxin, Shiga toxin, C. difficile toxins, and many bacterial effectors using the latest experimental approaches.
(2) Host-microbe interactions: enteric pathogens (e.g., C. difficile infections) and microbiome; urinary tract infections and urinary microbiome.
(3) Apply modern protein engineering methods to develop novel therapeutic toxins for treating chronic pain and cancer, as well as novel antibodies and vaccines against emerging pathogens.
(4) Cell biology of neurons: apply imaging and electrophysiological approaches to characterize synaptic vesicle exocytosis/recycling, cytoskeleton regulation, and endosomal sorting and trafficking in cells.
Enders Building, Room 1070
300 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115