• I am a biophysical chemist who combines single-molecule techniques with traditional physical chemistry and biochemistry to study nucleic acid structure, DNA damage, and gene regulation. My group combines single-molecule FRET with biochemistry and thermodynamics to reveal unique insights into nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) structural dynamics and its role in protein-nucleic acid interaction.
  • Selected Publications

    Academic Article

    Year Title Altmetric
    2018 Unfolding and Targeting Thermodynamics of a DNA Intramolecular Complex with Joined Triplex-Duplex Domains 2018
    2017 Effect of Loop Length and Sequence on the Stability of DNA Pyrimidine Triplexes with TAT Base Triplets 2017
    2017 Molecular mechanisms by which oxidative DNA damage promotes telomerase activityNucleic Acids Research.  45:11752-11765. 2017
    2016 Oxidative guanine base damage regulates human telomerase activity 2016
    2016 Entropic stabilization of folded RNA in crowded solutions measured by SAXSNucleic Acids Research.  44:9452-9461. 2016
    2015 Molecular crowding overcomes the destabilizing effects of mutations in a bacterial ribozymeNucleic Acids Research.  43:1170-1176. 2015
    2015 The size of the internal loop in DNA hairpins influences their targeting with partially complementary strands 2015
    2014 Increased ribozyme activity in crowded solutionsJournal of Biological Chemistry.  289:2972-2977. 2014
    2012 Probing the temperature unfolding of a variety of DNA secondary structures using the fluorescence properties of 2-aminopurineActa Chimica Slovenica.  59:443-453. 2012
    2011 The size of internal loops influences the unfolding thermodynamics of DNA hairpinsACS Symposium Series.  1082:93-110. 2011
    2010 DNA complexes containing joined triplex and duplex motifs: Melting behavior of intramolecular and bimolecular complexes with similar sequences 2010
    2009 Unfolding thermodynamics of intramolecular G-quadruplexes: Base sequence contributions of the loops 2009
    2009 Unfolding thermodynamics of DNA intramolecular complexes involving joined triple- and double-helical motifs.Methods in Enzymology.  466:477-502. 2009
    2008 Thermodynamic contributions of the reactions of DNA intramolecular structures with their complementary strandsBiochimie.  90:1052-1063. 2008
    2008 Unfolding thermodynamics of DNA pyrimidine triplexes with different molecularities 2008
    2007 Novel biomineral-binding cyclodextrins for controlled drug delivery in the oral cavityJournal of Controlled Release.  122:54-62. 2007


    Year Title Altmetric
    2014 Interaction of DNA intramolecular structures with their complementary strands: A thermodynamic approach for the control of gene expression.  367-383. 2014
    2011 A thermodynamic approach for the targeting of nucleic acid structures using their complementary single strands.  1-26. 2011

    Research Overview

  • Nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) can form a variety of non-canonical secondary structures. Many studies show that non-canonical secondary structures can fold or unfold during gene expression and play important roles in gene regulation. However, the dynamics of these processes are not well-studied. If a non-canonical secondary structure forms, how stable is it? When does it form and how long will it stay folded? Does base modification or damage change the conformational dynamics? Answers to these questions will explain how a particular sequence can act as a promoter, cap, or binding site, which is vital for understanding stress response, cancer development, aging, and viral gene replication.
    Although traditional physical or biochemical methods allow us to detect stable formation of secondary and tertiary structures, substantially less information is available about the dynamics of these structures. Single-molecule Förster resonance energy transfer (smFRET) allows us to study the structural dynamics of nucleic acids and bio-macromolecule interactions in real-time. Similarly, super-resolution imaging allows us to quantitatively monitor the expression and distribution of mRNA and protein in the cell. I use these techniques to test if DNA and RNA conformational dynamics contribute to telomere loop (T-loop) formation, telomerase promoter function, and viral mRNA 3’ untranslated region (3’UTR) function. My work will improve our knowledge about how DNA and RNA binding proteins respond to the dynamics of non-canonical secondary structures, and help to explain how base modification and damage affect aging, cancer, and other diseases.
  • Education And Training

  • Johns Hopkins University Biophysics, Postdoctoral Research 2019
  • University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign Bioengineering, Postdoctoral Research 2015
  • Johns Hopkins University Biophysics, Postdoctoral Research 2014
  • Doctor of Philosophy in Pharmacy, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Administration, University of Nebraska Medical Center 2010
  • Bachelor of Science or Mathematics in Biology, National Dong Hwa University 2003
  • Full Name

  • Hui-Ting Lee