Yu-Yu Cheng

Email: yc33 [at] rice.edu
Phone: +1 713.348.4393
February 2012 – Present

I am going to measure the distribution of delay time in synthetic gene cascades. We will use transcription factor Рpromoter pairs to construct synthetic gene cascades with variable lengths to examine how information is transmitted along the transcriptional cascades. It is still unknown how variable the delay time is for one activator to turn on its corresponding promoter among population of isogenic cells, and how the delay is added up through multiple such similar pairs. The delay is due to the completion times of transcription, translation, oligomerization, and for the transcription factor to search for the promoter, and it may be quite different among cells. We will use custom microfluidic device and fluorescence microscopy to measure the delay time in transcriptional cascades for single cells and acquire the statistics of the delay time. If the delay is significant, we should incorporate it in modeling gene circuits. The delay could nontrivially change the functions of common gene motifs. For example, the robustness of the dual-feedback oscillator is
attributed to the delay time. The delay time and the stochasticity of gene expression also have subtle relationship for the variability of delay time is partly due to it, and the delay time may affect the stochastic gene expression as well in downstream signaling. This synthetic circuit approach could infer the characteristics of natural gene cascades, such as the ones in development process. It could also help build more robust synthetic circuits, once the role of the delay is known. We will use experimental, theoretical, and numerical approaches to address this issue.

I earned the Chemistry and Mathematics degrees at National Taiwan University in 2008. After graduating, I have been a research assistant at Academia Sinica at Taiwan under the supervision of Prof. Cherri Hsu.