- 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!
Zheng, C, Yang, F, Zeng, L, Vargo, EL, Xu, Y. Genetic diversity and colony structure of Tapinoma melanocephalum on the islands and mainland of South China. Ecol Evol. 2018;8 (11):5427-5440.
Wang, X, Park, S, Zeng, L, Jain, A, Ha, T. Toward Single-Cell Single-Molecule Pull-Down. Biophys. J. 2018;115 (2):283-288.
Zhang, P, Xiao, Z, Wang, S, Zhang, M, Wei, Y, Hang, Q et al.. ZRANB1 Is an EZH2 Deubiquitinase and a Potential Therapeutic Target in Breast Cancer. Cell Rep. 2018;23 (3):823-837.
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.
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.
Cortes, MG, Trinh, JT, Zeng, L, Balázsi, G. Late-Arriving Signals Contribute Less to Cell-Fate Decisions. Biophys. J. 2017;113 (9):2110-2120.
Banu, SK, Stanley, JA, Taylor, RJ, Sivakumar, KK, Arosh, JA, Zeng, L et al.. Sexually Dimorphic Impact of Chromium Accumulation on Human Placental Oxidative Stress and Apoptosis. Toxicol. Sci. 2018;161 (2):375-387.
Trinh, JT, Zeng, L. Virus interactions: cooperation or competition? Future Microbiol. 2017;12 :561-564.
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.
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.