Research projects in the Huang Lab at the University of Hong Kong


Intracellular Transportation

Our major research interest is in the mechanism of intracellular transportation and its roles in development, neuronal function and genetic diseases. Within the cell, a variety of cellular components are moved to specific sites at specific times. The intracellular transportation processes are essential not only for housekeeping purpose but also for specialized cellular functions, such as the transport of synaptic vesicles. Intracellular transportation is carried out over two major cellular networks, the microtubule and actin networks. Microtubule motors include the kinesin and dynein families of proteins while actin motors are the myosin family of proteins. Current research suggests that the microtubule network is used for transport over long distances while the actin network is used for short-range delivery in animal cells. Disruption of these processes result in genetic diseases. For example, mutation in myosin-VA results in human Griscelli disease characterized by pigment dilution, immunodeficiency, neurological defect and cognitive disorder. Mutations in other motor molecules result in many other diseases such as heart diseases and deafness.

My previous work demonstrated that myosin-VA can interact directly with the ubiquitously expressed kinesin, implying that the two transportation systems are at least partially coordinated through their motor molecules. The major interest of my group is to use transgenic and knockout mice to study the functions of kinesins in chondrocytes, neurons, and other cell types.


Synthetic Biology

Synthetic Biology refers to the design and fabrication of biological components and systems that do not already exist in the natural world; and the re-design and fabrication of existing biological systems for useful purpose. The Huang Lab laboratory is aiming to design and fabricate artificial biological parts, devices and circuits to control pattern formation, stem cell self-renewal/differentiation, and to attack tumors.

Bacterial cells are programmed to form sequential patterns with tunable number of rings.