Yu Lab:Research

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Revision as of 15:38, 10 September 2006

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Research

One Molecule at a Time

A general aim of our group is to develop new single molecule experiments to study processes in live cells. For the past decade, single molecule techniques of various kinds have greatly extended the toolbox of biochemists for studying biomolecules in vitro. However, in order to truly understand the activity of biomolecules, it is also imperative to put them back into the environment of live cells and watch them from there -- hence our goal. We will keep sharing with you our thrills of adventuring into this very young field, by keep updating this web page.


Why do we want to study individual molecules? It is because we want to treat biological problems in a more rigorous and quantitative manner. To do that, a major challenge comes from the fact that cells are intrinsically very heterogeneous. They have different sizes and shapes, and many spatial compartments within a cell. In addition, biomolecules often assemble into complex biological machines when they work inside a cell, yet these "machines" usually have no defined form or composition, and in many cases, keep changing in time. One way to get around this "messiness" is to avoid ensemble averaging and directly study individual molecules themselves. Paradoxically, to learn about how molecules work with each other, we would like to look at the individuals one at a time.


In order to do that, we need to work at the interface of many disciplines. We will use modern molecular biology and cell biology technique to manipulate and control the cells. We will also use biochemistry to modify and label proteins or other biomolecules that we are interested in. We then bring in laser light to microscopes to maneuver and monitor single molecules while they are busy working inside the cell.

Center for Cell Analysis and Modeling


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