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Lanying Zeng

Zeng, Lanying
Lanying Zeng
Associate Professor
BioBio / Room 419A
Graduate Education
Ph.D University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2007)
Postdoc University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2007-2011)
Joined Texas A&M in 2012

Cellular Decision Making in Bacteria

Living systems make decisions by integrating information from their environments in order to optimize their own fitness. This decision-making process has many intricacies, with a dual nature characterized by stochasticity and determinism, and considerable effort has been dedicated to characterizing the factors contributing to cell-fate heterogeneity. Our primary goal is to determine how multiple environmental and genetic factors, some deterministic and some stochastic, impact developmental outcomes. We choose to study paradigms of cellular decision-making such as bacteriophage lambda lytic-lysogenic development to simplify the complicated nature of cell-fate selection. By distilling the study of a ubiquitous and vital process into basic questions, we hope to generate new insights into how decision-making affects cellular development and differentiation in higher organisms.

We utilize high-resolution live-cell fluorescence microscopy, single-molecule fluorescence microscopy, quantitative data analysis, and simple mathematical modeling to mechanistically dissect the decision-making processes at single-cell/molecule levels. Our favorite biological models are the lysis-lysogeny systems of bacteria and their viruses, like E. coli being infected by paradigm phages lambda and P1. By revisiting established systems with a new, technologically advanced perspective, we are able to reveal previously hidden complexities to better understand the nature of living cells.

To put it simply, we ask this: How do cells make decisions?

Our simple answer: Well, they do it quite beautifully!

Recent Publications

  1. Gordeeva, J, Morozova, N, Sierro, N, Isaev, A, Sinkunas, T, Tsvetkova, K et al.. BREX system of Escherichia coli distinguishes self from non-self by methylation of a specific DNA site. Nucleic Acids Res. 2018; :.
    doi: 10.1093/nar/gky1125. PubMed PMID:30418590. .

  2. Shao, Q, Cortes, MG, Trinh, JT, Guan, J, Balázsi, G, Zeng, L et al.. Coupling of DNA Replication and Negative Feedback Controls Gene Expression for Cell-Fate Decisions. iScience. 2018;6 :1-12.
    doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2018.07.006. PubMed PMID:30240603. PubMed Central PMC6137276.

  3. Wang, X, Park, S, Zeng, L, Jain, A, Ha, T. Toward Single-Cell Single-Molecule Pull-Down. Biophys. J. 2018;115 (2):283-288.
    doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2018.05.013. PubMed PMID:29804751. PubMed Central PMC6050716.

  4. Trinh, JT, Alkahtani, MH, Rampersaud, I, Rampersaud, A, Scully, M, Young, RF et al.. Fluorescent nanodiamond-bacteriophage conjugates maintain host specificity. Biotechnol. Bioeng. 2018;115 (6):1427-1436.
    doi: 10.1002/bit.26573. PubMed PMID:29460442. PubMed Central PMC5912989.

  5. Guan, J, Shi, X, Burgos, R, Zeng, L. Visualization of phage DNA degradation by a type I CRISPR-Cas system at the single-cell level. Quant Biol. 2017;5 (1):67-75.
    doi: 10.1007/s40484-017-0099-0. PubMed PMID:29119038. PubMed Central PMC5673134.

  6. Cortes, MG, Trinh, JT, Zeng, L, Balázsi, G. Late-Arriving Signals Contribute Less to Cell-Fate Decisions. Biophys. J. 2017;113 (9):2110-2120.
    doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2017.09.012. PubMed PMID:29117533. PubMed Central PMC5685783.

  7. Trinh, JT, Zeng, L. Virus interactions: cooperation or competition? Future Microbiol. 2017;12 :561-564.
    doi: 10.2217/fmb-2017-0048. PubMed PMID:28604103. .

  8. Trinh, JT, Székely, T, Shao, Q, Balázsi, G, Zeng, L. Cell fate decisions emerge as phages cooperate or compete inside their host. Nat Commun. 2017;8 :14341.
    doi: 10.1038/ncomms14341. PubMed PMID:28165024. PubMed Central PMC5303824.

  9. Shao, Q, Trinh, JT, McIntosh, CS, Christenson, B, Balázsi, G, Zeng, L et al.. Lysis-lysogeny coexistence: prophage integration during lytic development. Microbiologyopen. 2017;6 (1):.
    doi: 10.1002/mbo3.395. PubMed PMID:27530202. PubMed Central PMC5300877.

  10. Fan, X, Duan, X, Tong, Y, Huang, Q, Zhou, M, Wang, H et al.. The Global Reciprocal Reprogramming between Mycobacteriophage SWU1 and Mycobacterium Reveals the Molecular Strategy of Subversion and Promotion of Phage Infection. Front Microbiol. 2016;7 :41.
    doi: 10.3389/fmicb.2016.00041. PubMed PMID:26858712. PubMed Central PMC4729954.

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