HMS Virology

Virology Faculty Member - Xiaowei Zhuang

Xiaowei Zhuang

Harvard University
Chemistry & Chemical Biology
12 Oxford Street
Cambridge, MA 2138
Tel: 617-496-9558
Fax: 617-496-9559

The Zhuang research lab uses advanced optical imaging techniques to study the behavior of individual biological molecules and complexes in vitro and in live cells. Our current research is focused on the following three major directions.

Super-resolution optical imaging. We have developed a new form of high resolution light microscopy, stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy (STORM). Using STORM, we have achieved three-dimensional, multicolor fluorescence imaging of molecular complexes, cells and tissues with ~20 nm lateral and ~50 nm axial resolutions. We hope to advance STORM capabilities to ultimately enable real-time imaging of cells and tissues with resolution at the true molecular length scale.

Virus-cell interactions. We have developed real-time imaging methods to track individual virus particles in live cells. This approach allows us to follow the fate of individual viruses, to dissect the infection pathways into microscopic steps, and to determine the molecular mechanism of each step. Using this approach, we are investigating the entry and assembly mechanisms of influenza virus and poliovirus, as well as related cellular trafficking pathways.

Nucleic acid – protein interaction. We use single-molecule approaches to study nucleic acid-protein complexes. These experiments allow us to directly probe dynamic interactions between DNA, RNA and proteins within these complexes and thus to provide mechanistic understandings of these biomolecular processes. Specific systems being investigated include telomerase, HIV reverse transcriptase and chromatin remodeling enzymes.

Last Update: 5/14/2015


Abbondanzieri, G. Bokinsky, J. W. Rausch, J. X. Zhang, S. F. J. Le Grice, X. Zhuang. Dynamic binding orientations direct activity of HIV reverse transcriptase. Nature 453, 184-189 (2008).
B. Huang, W. Wang, M. Bates, X. Zhuang. Three-dimensional super-resolution imaging by stochastic optical reconstruction microscopy. Science 319, 810-813 (2008).

M. Bates, B. Huang, G. Dempsey, X. Zhuang. Multicolor super-resolution imaging with photo-switchable fluorescent probes. Science 317, 1749-1753 (2007).

B. Brandenburg, L. Y. Lee, M. Lakadamyali, M. J. Rust, X. Zhuang, and J. M. Hogle. Imaging poliovirus entry in live cells. PLoS Biol. 5, 1543-1555 (2007).

M. D. Stone, M. Mihalusova, C. M. O’Connor, R. Prathapam, K. Collins, X. Zhuang. Stepwise protein-mediated RNA folding directs assembly of telomerase ribonucleoprotein. Nature 446, 458-461 (2007).

M. Lakadamyali, M. J. Rust, X. Zhuang. Ligands for clathrin-mediated endocytosis are differentially sorted into distinct populations of early endosomes. Cell 124, 997-1009 (2006).

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