Professor Lei Wang from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) visited Department of Biology of SUSTC for academic exchanges


On October 17, 2016, Professor Lei Wang from University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) visited SUSTC for academic exchanges upon the invitation of Professor Chen Wei of our Department of Biology, and carried out an academic lecture entitled Genetically Encoding New Bioreactivity. Professor Lei’s main research interests are chemical biology and synthetic biology, and his main research direction involves utilizingunnatural amino acids for study of biological processes and using them in development of new biological therapeutics. Professor Leihas published his works on many magazines including Science, Cell, Nature Methods, Nature Chemical Biology, Nature Neuroscience, Neuron, PNAS, AngewandteChemie (Int Ed Engl) and JACS, etc.

Professor Lei started the lecture with an introduction of the research history of unnatural amino acids. He first illustrated the principle of precisely targeted introduction of unnatural amino acids into the natural protein of organismsthrough genetic code transformation, anddescribed systematically the application of the technology in E.coli, yeast, C. elegans, and mouse studies. Then he in particular raised a major advantage of this technology—the ability to introduce unnatural amino acids with different bioreactivities into the proteins of the organisms. The side chain of natural amino acid is mostly biochemically inert, therefore, introducing different biological reactivity into natural protein can greatly enrich the protein engineering technology, and facilitatemany biological researches. Through the introduction of his own several research projects, Professor Lei demonstrated the powerful advantages of the introduction of a variety of biological reactivity for the study of protein-protein interactions in different physiological processes and in different organisms.

Our teachers and classmates listened attentively to the lecture and had heated discussions and communications with Professor Lei. We raised our questions and opinions on unnatural amino acids and bioreactivity technology, and showed a keen interest in the application of the technology. We also expressed our ideas and prospectfor the research direction of unnatural amino acids in future.