Dr Tung Le

Project Leader Molecules from Nature

Tung Le studies how the chromosome is organised spatially and segregated faithfully, using a simplified bacterial system.

This process is essential allowing daughter cells to inherit a full copy of the genetic information.

Tung uses next-generation sequencing and computational modelling to map the three-dimensional structure of the chromosome in an aquatic bacterium called Caulobacter crescentus.

His group is also investigating how the conserved Structural Maintenance of Chromosomes (SMC) protein packages the chromosome inside the cells.

  • Next-generation sequencing and computational modelling
  • DNA replication, segregation and DNA-damage repair
  • SMC proteins for designing synthetic artificial chromosome

Bacteria manage their DNA in a very different manner to eukaryotic cells. While eukaryotic cells tightly pack their DNA into chromosomes within a cell nucleus, bacterial DNA resides in the cytoplasm along with all the other cellular components. Yet despite lacking nuclear compartmentalization of DNA, bacteria have highly sophisticated chromosome compaction and organisation that is not yet well understood.

Dr Tung Le’s research is aiming to unravel the myriad of protein interactions required to achieve high-order chromosome organisation in bacterial cells. He also seeks to understand the relationship between the spatial organisation of chromosomes and important biological processes such as regulation of gene expression, DNA damage repair, horizontal gene transfer as well as DNA replication and segregation.

The work will primarily be carried out using two model bacteria: the aquatic bacterium Caulobacter crescentus, and the soil-dwelling Streptomyces venezuelae.

The outcomes of this research will be to better understand the structural information encoded by bacterial DNA, identify new targets for anti-bacterial therapies and to improve yield of antibiotic biosynthesis by structural manipulation of high-order chromosome organisation.