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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, 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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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