Centrosome and cilia:
When cells exit the cell cycle, the centrosome attaches to the cell membrane and elongates the hair-like organelles known as cilia. Cilia play a crucial role in sensing, signaling, and cell motility. Changes in the structure or number of centrosomes can lead to conditions such as cancer, microcephaly, or dwarfism. Defects in cilia have a wide-ranging impact, affecting almost all human organs, and these rare genetic disorders are collectively referred to as ciliopathies. By studying the function of disease genes associated with centrosome and ciliary disorders, it is possible to enhance disease diagnosis and facilitate the development of new therapies. The Liu lab utilizes advanced techniques to diagnose and investigate diseases caused by centrosome and cilia defects.
Airway epithelium, host-microbe interaction, innate immunity: The respiratory tract serves as the initial barrier against invading microorganisms. These microorganisms are entrapped within the mucus produced by goblet cells and subsequently cleared away by the synchronized beating of cilia found on multiciliated cells. In the event of epithelial damage, specialized basal stem cells become activated and initiate the process of repairing the affected regions. Our laboratory focuses on investigating the interactions between viruses and the epithelium, as well as exploring the mechanisms involved in epithelial regeneration.
Tissue, cell, and organelle architecture: The functions of tissues, cells, and organelles are intricately linked to their architectural organization. In our laboratory, we employ multiplexed labeling and/or super-resolution microscopy techniques to unravel the architectural characteristics across various biological scales and uncover the relationship between architecture and function. Presently, our research concentrates on elucidating the organization of the airway epithelium, the structure of motile cilia, and the immune synapse.
Super-resolution microscopy and advanced imaging:
The advent of super-resolution microscopy has revolutionized optical resolution by enabling imaging at the nanometer scale, providing a powerful tool for examining intricate cellular processes in detail. Within our laboratory at HKUST, we have access to cutting-edge microscopes, including the Abbelight 360 for single-molecule localization microscopy, the Zeiss Elyra7 for structured illumination microscopy, the Leica STED microscope, and the Abberior MINFLUX system. Moreover, we actively develop novel imaging techniques to address diagnostic needs and implement these advanced methods in both our research endeavors and clinical applications.