The centrosome is the cellular microtubule organizing center (MTOC) and plays a critical role in cell cycle progression, polarity and migration. When cells exit the cell cycle, the centrosome docks at the cell membrane and extends the hair-like organelle, the cilium, which is essential in sensing, signalling and cell motility.
Centrosome structure/number changes can lead to cancer, microcephaly or dwarfism. Cilia defects exert a broad impact, affecting nearly all human organs and these rare genetic diseases are collectively called ciliopathies.
Studying the function of the disease genes linked to centrosome and ciliary disorders could aid disease diagnosis and the development of new therapies. However, these subcellular structures have long been understudied, partly because their sizes are below the resolution of traditional light microscopy. The emergence of super-resolution microscopy pushes the optical resolution to nanometers, making the visualization of subcellular protein assemblies a viable possibility.
Here, at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Liu lab leverages quantitative super-resolution imaging, single molecule/particle live cell tracking, machine learning and other state-of-art techniques to diagnose and study diseases caused by centrosome and cilium defects.
Specifically, Liu lab will address important biological questions related to the following topics:
Centrosome and cilium dysfunctions in the development of human diseases
Centrosome and cilium in host defence
Development of imaging-based techniques to improve disease diagnosis