- American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2015
- National Academy of Sciences, 2013
- Ph.D., Columbia University, 1991
- M.A., Columbia University, 1986
- B.A., State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1985
My group studies DNA recombination, repair, and replication. In particular, we are interested in V(D)J recombination, mismatch repair, nucleotide excision repair, and translesion DNA synthesis. We use X-ray crystallography, cryoEM, molecular biology, and various biochemical and biophysical approaches to find out the molecular mechanisms underpinning these biological processes. In recent years, we have discovered that DNA synthesis and RNA degradation reactions are propelled by cation trafficking and require transiently bound Mg²⁺ and K⁺ ions that are absent in the static structures of substrate- or product-enzyme complexes.
- Structure of an activated DNA-PK and its implications for NHEJ.
- Chen X, Xu X, Chen Y, Cheung JC, Wang H, Jiang J, de Val N, Fox T, Gellert M, Yang W.
- Mol Cell (2021 Feb 18) 81:801-810.e3. Abstract/Full Text
- Cutting antiparallel DNA strands in a single active site.
- Chen X, Cui Y, Best RB, Wang H, Zhou ZH, Yang W, Gellert M.
- Nat Struct Mol Biol (2020 Feb) 27:119-126. Abstract/Full Text
Research in Plain Language
We investigate the biological processes of DNA—the molecule that encodes the genetic blueprint for all living organisms. DNA replication ensures life’s continuity and proliferation. DNA repair processes maintain the integrity and error-free of our genome. We also analyze V(D)J DNA recombination, which is a programmed process that cut and paste pieces of DNA to produce new antibodies and antigen receptors to fight against foreign invaders.