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Chemical Biology Seminar: Professor Wenjing Wang, University of Michigan

Wenjing Wang

credit: Rajani Arora

Wed April 24th 2024, 3:00 - 4:00pm
Sapp Center Lecture Hall 114

About the Seminar

Protein-based sensors and tools for studying neuromodulatory systems

One major challenge in neuroscience is capturing and manipulating neuronal signaling and modulation with high spatiotemporal resolution and across a large brain volume. To address this gap, my research group takes a chemical biology approach to design novel classes of protein-based sensors and tools. For example, we have designed new classes of fluorescence-integrators which generate permanent marks upon detection of specific neuromodulators. These fluorescence-integrators will enable whole-brain mapping of opioids, epinephrine, dopamine, and other neuromodulators with high spatial resolution. We have also designed light- and chemical-activated protein switches for controlling the activity of peptide agonists for G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs), which will enable the activation of GPCRs in selective neuronal circuits to study their causal-effect on various physiological processes and behaviors. These protein-based sensors and tools will significantly facilitate the study of brain signaling and neuromodulation.

About the Speaker 

Dr. Wang is an Assistant Professor in the Life Sciences Institute and Department of Chemistry at the University of Michigan. She obtained B.S. in Chemistry at Xiamen University, China, and Ph.D. in Bioorganic Chemistry at Michigan State University mentored by Prof. Babak Borhan, followed by postdoctoral training at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stanford University, mentored by Prof. Alice Ting.  Her research lab applies directed evolution-based protein engineering methods to design a range of molecular sensors for mapping neuromodulators and recording neuronal activity in animal models. Her group also develops new classes of optogenetic and chemogenetic tools to manipulate cellular signaling and neuronal activity with a temporal gating. Additionally, her group is interested in developing protein-based biologics as research tools and potential therapeutics for targeting protein aggregates in neurodegenerative diseases.

Host: Laura Dassama