New Exchange Student: Yan Cui
Yan is a student from Tsinghua University. She will be joining us on an one-year exchange program.
Our lab builds DNA nanostructures with prescribed geometry, motion, and chemical modification. We program such nanostructures for the studies of biomolecule structure, organization, and dynamics. Meanwhile, we take inspiration from cells' protein machinery to engineer biomimetic nanodevices with customizable function.
Please visit our research page for more information about ongoing projects.
Yan is a student from Tsinghua University. She will be joining us on an one-year exchange program.
Qi will be leaving us to join the Xiong lab at the Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University.
Qi is a student from Tsinghua University. She will be joining us on an exchange program for two months.
Zhao will be leaving us to join the Chapman Lab at the Department of Neuroscience, University of Wisconsin.
Our former undergraduate student, Mark Zhu, graduated as the Class of 2018. Congratulations and all the best!
Chenxiang Lin is an Associate Professor of Cell Biology and has been a faculty member at the Nanobiology Institute since 2012. Before joining Yale, he studied chemistry at Peking University, completed his Ph.D. thesis on DNA nanotechnology at Arizona State University, and pursued postdoctoral training at the Wyss Institute at Harvard University. He received the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award in 2014.
The Lin lab currently has one postdoctoral fellow, five graduate students and one exchange student.
Yang is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Lin Lab.
Ben is a fifth year PhD candidate in the Chenxiang Lin and Farren Isaacs Labs. He holds a B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and a M.S. in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) from Yale University. His research interests lie at the interface of genome engineering and nucleic acid nanotechnology, where he is developing new tools and technologies for gene-editing based therapies. Outside of lab, Ben spends as much time as he can outside, where he enjoys hiking, swimming, and playing basketball.
John is a PhD candidate in the Lin Lab.
Michael is a sixth year PhD candidate in Chenxiang Lin's lab and holds dual B.S. degrees in Plant Molecular Biology and Natural Resource Management from Cornell University. His research focuses on the structural manipulation of membrane topographies using self-assembling DNA nanosprings inspired by natural membrane deformation systems (e.g. ESCRT-III and BAR). Along with research, he has a passion for education and science outreach, performed at Yale through the Yale Science Diplomats and Yale's Pathways to Science programs. He also is an active member of The Yale Cycling Team.
Nathan is a PhD candidate in the Lin Lab.
Qiancheng graduated from the University of Cambridge with a major in Genetics and worked as a Research Officer at the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (A*STAR, Singapore). He is a second year graduate student in the Lin lab and is in the midst of preparing for the Qualifying Exam. Outside the laboratory, he also experiments with caffeine extraction and yeast fermentation.
Yan Cui received her B.A. from China Agricultural University in biology and is a 5th year graduate student from Tsinghua University. Yan's work focuses on the construction and application of DNA origami nanostructures. She's in Yale for her research on DNA-templated liposome transformation.
Nature has evolved sophisticated and highly efficient molecular machineries for all forms of lives. Our lab focuses on engineering DNA-nanostructure-based molecular tools for investigating and engineering the naturally occurring molecular events. Those DNA-based tools have made it possible for us to manipulate macromolecules and higher order assemblies with nanometer precision. We expect such research to help elucidate biological questions at the single-molecule level, and in the long run lead to functional synthetic nano-machines that rival natural systems in complexity.
Research themes in our lab include:
For a full list of Prof Lin's publications, please click here.
A major goal of nanotechnology and bioengineering is to build artificial nanomachines capable of generating specific membrane curvatures on demand. Inspired by natural membrane‐deforming proteins, we designed DNA‐origami curls that polymerize into nanosprings and show their efficacy in vesicle deformation. DNA‐coated membrane tubules emerge from spherical vesicles when DNA‐origami polymerization or high membrane‐surface coverage occurs. Unlike many previous methods, the DNA self‐assembly‐mediated membrane tubulation eliminates the need for detergents or top‐down manipulation. The DNA‐origami design and deformation conditions have substantial influence on the tubulation efficiency and tube morphology, underscoring the intricate interplay between lipid bilayers and vesicle‐deforming DNA structures.
Nuclear pore complexes (NPCs) form gateways that control molecular exchange between the nucleus and the cytoplasm. They impose a diffusion barrier to macromolecules and enable the selective transport of nuclear transport receptors with bound cargo. The underlying mechanisms that establish these permeability properties remain to be fully elucidated but require unstructured nuclear pore proteins rich in Phe-Gly (FG)-repeat domains of different types, such as FxFG and GLFG. While physical modeling and in vitro approaches have provided a framework for explaining how the FG network contributes to the barrier and transport properties of the NPC, it remains unknown whether the number and/or the spatial positioning of different FG-domains along a cylindrical, ∼40 nm diameter transport channel contributes to their collective properties and function. To begin to answer these questions, we have used DNA origami to build a cylinder that mimics the dimensions of the central transport channel and can house a specified number of FG-domains at specific positions with easily tunable design parameters, such as grafting density and topology. We find the overall morphology of the FG-domain assemblies to be dependent on their chemical composition, determined by the type and density of FG-repeat, and on their architectural confinement provided by the DNA cylinder, largely consistent with here presented molecular dynamics simulations based on a coarse-grained polymer model. In addition, high-speed atomic force microscopy reveals local and reversible FG-domain condensation that transiently occludes the lumen of the DNA central channel mimics, suggestive of how the NPC might establish its permeability properties.
The diverse structure and regulated deformation of lipid bilayer membranes are among a cell's most fascinating features. Artificial membrane-bound vesicles, known as liposomes, are versatile tools for modelling biological membranes and delivering foreign objects to cells. To fully mimic the complexity of cell membranes and optimize the efficiency of delivery vesicles, controlling liposome shape (both statically and dynamically) is of utmost importance. Here we report the assembly, arrangement and remodelling of liposomes with designer geometry: all of which are exquisitely controlled by a set of modular, reconfigurable DNA nanocages. Tubular and toroid shapes, among others, are transcribed from DNA cages to liposomes with high fidelity, giving rise to membrane curvatures present in cells yet previously difficult to construct in vitro. Moreover, the conformational changes of DNA cages drive membrane fusion and bending with predictable outcomes, opening up opportunities for the systematic study of membrane mechanics.
Mechanically interlocked supramolecular assemblies are appealing building blocks for creating functional nanodevices. Herein, we describe the multistep assembly of large DNA origami rotaxanes that are capable of programmable structural switching. We validated the topology and structural integrity of these rotaxanes by analyzing the intermediate and final products of various assembly routes by electrophoresis and electron microscopy. We further analyzed two structure‐switching behaviors of our rotaxanes, which are both mediated by DNA hybridization. In the first mechanism, the translational motion of the macrocycle can be triggered or halted at either terminus. In the second mechanism, the macrocycle can be elongated after completion of the rotaxane assembly, giving rise to a unique structure that is otherwise difficult to access.
Artificial lipid-bilayer membranes are valuable tools for the study of membrane structure and dynamics. For applications such as the study of vesicular transport and drug delivery, there is a pressing need for artificial vesicles with controlled size. However, controlling vesicle size and shape with nanometre precision is challenging, and approaches to achieve this can be heavily affected by lipid composition. Here, we present a bio-inspired templating method to generate highly monodispersed sub-100-nm unilamellar vesicles, where liposome self-assembly was nucleated and confined inside rigid DNA nanotemplates. Using this method, we produce homogeneous liposomes with four distinct predefined sizes. We also show that the method can be used with a variety of lipid compositions and probe the mechanism of templated liposome formation by capturing key intermediates during membrane self-assembly. The DNA nanotemplating strategy represents a conceptually novel way to guide lipid bilayer formation and could be generalized to engineer complex membrane/protein structures with nanoscale precision.
We would be happy to meet you if you would like to have a chat or need our assistance.
You can find us at our lab located at the Nanobiology Institute on the Yale West Campus.
850 West Campus Drive, ISTC #213C, West Haven, CT 06516
There is a free Yale University Shuttle service (Purple Line & Green Line) between the West Campus and the main campus in New Haven.You may click here for more information.
You may also contact Prof Lin directly via email or phone.