The Liu Lab is interested in understanding how gene expression is controlled. Humans have ~20,000 genes, but they are not all “on” at the same time, nor are they all “off” at the same time. Proper regulation of turning “on” and “off” genes is what can distinguish a healthy cell from a diseased one.
We are also interested in applying knowledge about how genes are regulated in nature to create genetic systems with novel function. For example, one part of our research group is focused on creating RNA-based sensors for small molecules. Some current projects include:
- Characterize the structural changes that engineered riboswitches undergo upon binding their target ligand
- Develop novel biosensors for important second messengers in V. cholerae