Abilities to sense and respond to complex environmental signals such as light, oxygen and nutrients are critical for survival and adaptation of living organisms. Our research centers on a fundamental question – how do proteins perceive, convert, and integrate distinct physical and/or chemical signals into biological signals at the molecular level? We focus on three areas of research: 1) structures, dynamics, and engineering of modular signaling proteins; 2) structures and functions of photoreceptors involved in light-harvesting, photosynthesis and photo-protection; 3) methodology development of dynamic crystallography. We adopt an integrated approach of X-ray crystallography, spectroscopy, biochemistry and protein engineering to study the molecular mechanisms and signaling principles of photoreceptors.
Dynamic crystallography is a powerful tool that enables direction observations of transient molecular events and protein structural dynamics at the atomic resolution. Our laboratory is actively pushing this frontier of X-ray crystallography via technical (both hardware and software) innovations. We are committed to promote wide applications of dynamic crystallography via collaborations to study protein dynamics in challenging biological systems.