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Lanying Zeng

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

  2. 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.

  3. Wang, G, Zhang, R, Gomez, ME, Yang, L, Levy Zamora, M, Hu, M et al.. Persistent sulfate formation from London Fog to Chinese haze. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2016;113 (48):13630-13635.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1616540113. PubMed PMID:27849598. PubMed Central PMC5137769.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. Shao, Q, Hawkins, A, Zeng, L. Phage DNA dynamics in cells with different fates. Biophys. J. 2015;108 (8):2048-60.
    doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2015.03.027. PubMed PMID:25902444. PubMed Central PMC4407255.

  7. Fan, X, Yan, J, Xie, L, Zeng, L, Young, RF 3rd, Xie, J et al.. Genomic and proteomic features of mycobacteriophage SWU1 isolated from China soil. Gene. 2015;561 (1):45-53.
    doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2015.02.053. PubMed PMID:25701596. PubMed Central PMC5066301.

  8. Zeng, L, Golding, I. Following cell-fate in E. coli after infection by phage lambda. J Vis Exp. 2011; (56):e3363.
    doi: 10.3791/3363. PubMed PMID:22025187. PubMed Central PMC3227188.

  9. Rothenberg, E, Sepúlveda, LA, Skinner, SO, Zeng, L, Selvin, PR, Golding, I et al.. Single-virus tracking reveals a spatial receptor-dependent search mechanism. Biophys. J. 2011;100 (12):2875-82.
    doi: 10.1016/j.bpj.2011.05.014. PubMed PMID:21689520. PubMed Central PMC3123979.

  10. Zeng, L, Skinner, SO, Zong, C, Sippy, J, Feiss, M, Golding, I et al.. Decision making at a subcellular level determines the outcome of bacteriophage infection. Cell. 2010;141 (4):682-91.
    doi: 10.1016/j.cell.2010.03.034. PubMed PMID:20478257. PubMed Central PMC2873970.

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