Terpene Metabolism & Global Carbon Regulation
Terpenes are the largest family of secondary metabolites produced by plants, and have diverse industrial applications. Terpene molecules are generated from two C5 precursor molecules, IPP and DMAPP. In cyanobacteria, the MEP pathway condenses two glycolysis intermediates, glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate (G3P) and pyruvate into IPP/DMAPP. Cells also invest large amount of energy and reducing equivalents to form the high-energy diphosphate bond in IPP/DMAPP and to saturate the carbon chain.
Currently, metabolic regulation to the MEP pathway is largely unknown, which posts as a major challenge for the study of the MEP pathway and to metabolic engineering efforts. Our research expands from an engineered Synechococcus elongatus strain that can produce limonene at high titer. Through various omics (transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, and fluxomics) approaches, we intend to better understand the carbon flux distribution between terpene and central metabolism. The ultimate goal is to dissect cell regulation on carbon flux distribution among various metabolic processes, and infer genetic perturbation to alter carbon flux for practical applications.
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The lab has established a Thermo Orbitrap based proteomics platform at Miami University. The central focus is to conduct research independently and with our collaborators to understand metabolism in different cell types through proteomics or PTM studies. We are currently working on metabolism of extremophiles, cyanobacteria, and algae.