Hua Shi


  • Hua Shi

    BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES

    Dr. Shi’s laboratory creates and applies molecular devices to understand and control biological processes in vivo and in real time. A general strategy employed is to figure out fundamental questions in diseases-related situations, in particular cancer and viral infection, and to approach them in a facile experimental vehicle, such as bacteria, yeast, or mammalian cell culture. Research projects focus on two key biological processes that occur in a regulatory succession: cellular signaling and transcription control. One set of molecular devices being developed is RNA-based reagents and aptamers, from which, self-assembling supramolecular aggregates and synthetic gene circuits are generated and used to study and modulate protein functions. The aptamers are selected to bind avidly to protein targets and to perturb their functions. The rapid, controlled, and high-level expression of aptamers in cells and whole organisms allows mechanistic assessment of the effects of occluding discrete functional molecular surfaces. Most of the targets are involved in the pathology of cancer. Another area of research focuses on the design and construction of multivalent aptamers comprising more than one individual binding site. This approach can be used to “re-wire” the connectivity of regulatory networks to achieve predictive modification of cellular behavior.