Speaker: Prof. Lei WANG(University of California, San Francisco)

Time: 12:30-13:30,Dec. 17,2019

Venue: Library 111 lecture hall

Proximity-enabled Reactivity for Biological Studies


To genetically introduce new chemical reactivity into live systems, we engineered the genetic code to encode a new class of unnatural amino acids (Uaas), the latent bioreactive Uaas. These Uaas, after being incorporated into proteins, specifically react with target natural amino acid residues via proximity-enabled reactivity, enabling the selective formation of new covalent linkages within and between proteins both in vitro and in live systems. These diverse reactivities, inaccessible to natural proteins, open doors to novel protein engineering, biological research, and therapeutic applications.


Lei WANG received BS and MS from Peking University mentored by Zhongfan Liu, and PhD from UC Berkeley mentored by Peter G. Schultz. His graduate research resulted in the first expansion of the genetic code to include unnatural amino acids (Uaas) in 2001, for which he was awarded the Young Scientist Award by the journal Science. After postdoctoral training with Roger Y. Tsien (Nobel Laureate in Chemistry), Wang started his group at the Salk Institute in 2005, and moved to UCSF in 2014. His group has developed new methods for the expansion of the genetic code in a variety of cells and animals. Wang discovered that release factor one is nonessential in E. coli, and engineered autonomous bacteria capable of incorporating Uaas at multiple sites with high efficiency. Recently, Wang proposed the concept of proximity-enabled bioreactivity and demonstrated the genetic encoding of bioreactive Uaas in live systems. The new class of Uaas enables bioreactivities, inaccessible to proteins before, to be specifically introduced into biosystems, opening the door to harnessing covalent chemistry for protein engineering and biological research in vivo. Wang is a Top Young Innovator (by MIT Technology Review), a Basil O’Connor Starter Scholar, a Beckman Young Investigator, a Searle Scholar, and an NIH Director’s New Innovator Awardee.

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