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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

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  1. Guo, S, Hu, M, Peng, J, Wu, Z, Zamora, ML, Shang, D et al.. Remarkable nucleation and growth of ultrafine particles from vehicular exhaust. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2020;117 (7):3427-3432.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1916366117. PubMed PMID:32015109. PubMed Central PMC7035480.

  2. Zhang, K, Young, R, Zeng, L. Bacteriophage P1 does not show spatial preference when infecting Escherichia coli. Virology. 2020;542 :1-7.
    doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2019.12.012. PubMed PMID:31957661. PubMed Central PMC7024032.

  3. Trinh, JT, Zeng, L. Structure Regulates Phage Lysis-Lysogeny Decisions. Trends Microbiol. 2019;27 (1):3-4.
    doi: 10.1016/j.tim.2018.11.005. PubMed PMID:30502931. .

  4. Guan, J, Ibarra, D, Zeng, L. The role of side tail fibers during the infection cycle of phage lambda. Virology. 2019;527 :57-63.
    doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2018.11.005. PubMed PMID:30463036. PubMed Central PMC6312755.

  5. 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. 2019;47 (1):253-265.
    doi: 10.1093/nar/gky1125. PubMed PMID:30418590. PubMed Central PMC6326788.

  6. Shao, Q, Trinh, JT, Zeng, L. High-resolution studies of lysis-lysogeny decision-making in bacteriophage lambda. J. Biol. Chem. 2019;294 (10):3343-3349.
    doi: 10.1074/jbc.TM118.003209. PubMed PMID:30242122. PubMed Central PMC6416446.

  7. Shao, Q, Cortes, MG, Trinh, JT, Guan, J, Bal√°zsi, 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

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