Zhenglong Gu Laboratory: Research

Gu Laboratory: Research


Mitochondria evolved through an ancient symbiosis event about two billion years ago. Energetically this made the evolution of multicellularity possible. The mitochondrion is an essential organelle, as it functions as the "power plant" for the cell, producing most of a cell's energy in the form of ATP. Mitochondria are also the centers of signal transduction controlling many biological pathways. Mitochondrion is the only organelle with its own genetic materials (mtDNA), which is functionally compact with a much higher mutation rate (~50X) than the nuclear genome. Due to the functional importance of mitochondria and high mutation rate in mtDNA, we investigate the roles of mtDNA mutations in diseases. A combination of computational and experimental approaches are employed in our research. We are also interested in understanding the role of mitochondria in environmental adaptation.

Research Direction

Evolution of mitochondrial functions: We are interested in the evolution of yeast aerobic fermentation and the regulatory changes of mitochondria during this process. We are also conducting computational and experimental approaches to investigate the role of mtDNA mutations in organismal adaptation, including humans.

Role of mtDNA mutations in diseases: We are interested in understanding the role of mtDNA mutations in age-related diseases and some childhood diseases. In particular, we are trying to uncover the pattern of mtDNA mutations and their association with various diseases, understand the molecular consequences following mtDNA mutations, and come up with approaches to slow down or even eliminate mtDNA mutations.