Personal Information

Assistant Professor at the Department of Biomedical Engineering 

Office: (852) 3943 8268
Address: Room 410, Ho Sin Hang Engineering Building, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

Research Interests

Organelle Transport

The transport and distribution of organelles is critical for diverse cellular functions, including cell differentiation, intracellular signaling, cell survival, and apoptosis. We have developed an optogenetic strategy to control the distribution of intracellular organelles by light. This is achieved by optically recruiting molecular motors onto organelles through the dimerization of CRY2 and its interacting partner CIB1. Organelles, including mitochondria, peroxisomes and lysosomes, can be driven to the cell nucleus or to the cell periphery by light. Light-induced motor recruitment and organelle movements are repeatable, reversible, and subcellular spatial resolution can be achieved.


Utilizing a network of interacting proteins, intracellular signalling pathways transmit various extracellular signals into the cell to regulate gene expression and induce different cell responses. With optogenetic design to optically control the interaction and function of signalling proteins, the corresponding intracellular signalling pathway can be activated by light. 

Selected Publications

  1. L Duan , J Hope, S Guo‡, Q Ong, A Fracois, L Kaplan, G.Sherrer, B Cui*. “Optogenetic control of TrkA signaling.” ACS Synth. Biol., 2018; 7 (7):1685.
  2. L Duan, J Hope, Q Ong, H Lou, N Kim, C McCarthy, V Acero, M Lin*, B Cui*. “Understanding CRY2 interactions for optical control of intracellular signaling.” Nat. Commun., 2017; 8(1):547.
  3. F Santoro, W Zhao, L Joubert, L Duan, J Schnitker, Y Burgt, H Lou, B Liu, A Salleo, L Cui, Y Cui*, B Cui*. “Revealing the cell-material interface with nanometer resolution by focused ion beam/scanning electron microscopy.” ACS Nano., 2017; 11(8):8320.
  4. Q Ong, S Guo, L Duan, K Zhang, E Collier, B Cui*. “The timing of Raf/ERK and AKT activation in protecting PC12 cells against oxidative stress.” PLOS ONE, 2016; 11(4):e0153487.
  5. L Duan, D Che, K Zhang, Q Ong, S Guo, B Cui*. “Optogenetic control of molecular motors and organelle distributions in cells.” Chem. Biol., 2015; 22(5):671.
  6. D Che , L Duan , K Zhang, B Cui*. “The dual characteristics of light-induced cryptochrome 2 homo-oligomerization and hetero-dimerization for optogenetic manipulation in mammalian cells.” ACS Syn. Biol., 2015; 4 (10):1124.
  7. K Zhang, L Duan, Q Ong, Z Lin, P Varman, K Sung, B Cui*. “Light-mediated kinetic control reveals the temporal effect of the Raf/MEK/ERK pathway in PC12 cell neurite outgrowth.” PLOS ONE, 2014; 9 (3):e92917.
  8. M Xue, X Ma, Z Xie, L Duan, Y Jiang, M Zhang, T Cao*. “Fabrication of Au-directed conducting polymer nanoarrays for high-performance gas sensor.” Chemistry-an Asia Journal, 2010; 5:2266.
  9. W Ni, L Duan, M Xue, D Zhao, T Cao*. “Micro/nano patterning of phenolic resin using hot microcontact printing.” Acta Phys.-Chim. Sin., 2010; 26:1898.
  10. D Zhao, L Duan, M Xue, W Ni, T Cao*. “Patterning of electrostatic charge on electrets using hot microcontact printing.” Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2009; 48:6699.