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Jilong Liu


Associate Professor of Biomedical Science and MRC Programme Leader

Research Summary

Compartmentation is one of the fundamental strategies for a cell. Recent studies reported that CTP synthase, a metabolic enzyme for de novo synthesis of the nucleotide CTP, is compartmentalized in cytoophidia (Greek for “cellular snakes”) (as known as “CTP synthase filaments”, or “cytoplasmic rods and rings”) in bacteria, yeast, and fruit flies. Subsequent studies have shown that CTP synthase can also form filaments in human cells. Thus the cytoophidium represents a new type of intracellular compartment, which is strikingly conserved across prokaryotes and eukaryotes. In addition to CTP synthase, some other metabolic enzymes such as glutamine synthetase and IMP dehydrogenase can form filamentous structures in various organisms. Furthermore, many non-membrane-bound organelles such as cytoplasmic processing bodies (P bodies), histone locus bodies (HLBs), uridine-rich small nuclear ribonucleoprotein bodies (U bodies), and purinosomes have been identified inside the cell.

We are interested in how cytoophidia assemble and how compartmentation and filamentation contribute to the regulation of metabolic pathways and various other biological processes. We hope to better understand the conceptions and principles of compartmentation and filamentation within the cell. Furthermore, we wish to learn how malfunction of the cytoophidium and its kinds leads to disease.