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Welcome to the Shen Lab!

Shen group

Research Overview

Natural Product Biosynthesis, Engineering, and Drug Discovery.  Microorganisms produce a large variety of biologically active substances representing a vast diversity of fascinating molecular architecture not available in any other systems.  Our research centers on the chemistry, biochemistry and genetics of the biosynthesis of these secondary metabolites.  Blending organic chemistry, biochemistry, and molecular biology, we take a multidisciplinary approach to study the secondary metabolism by asking the following questions: what reactions are available in nature, what are the enzymatic mechanisms of these reactions, how are these reactions linked to produce complex structures, what are the regulatory mechanisms of these pathways, and, ultimately, how can we manipulate nature's biosynthetic machinery for the discovery and development of new drugs.  Members of our group gain broad training spanning organic chemistry, biochemistry, microbiology and molecular biology, a qualification that is becoming essential for the modern bioorganic chemists who seek career opportunity in both academia and pharmaceutical and biotechnology industry. 

The Natural Products Library Initiative (NPLI) at TSRI.  Natural products are significantly underrepresented in current small molecule libraries.  The current NPL at TSRI consists of: (i) purified natural products with fully assigned structures, (b) MPLC (on C-18 semipreparative column) fractions, and (c) crude extracts.  The NPL is presented in 384-well format with all materials dissolved in DMSO (1 mM for pure compounds and 50 mg/mL for fractions and extracts), compatible with most of the HTS platforms.  The NPL at TSRI currently available for screening includes: (a) 5,500 strains, (b) 450 pure natural products, (c) 3,400 MPLC fractions, and (d) 8,500 crude extracts.  The NPL grows at the rate of 100 strains/month and crude extracts, MPLC fractions, and pure natural products derived thereof.  The NPL provides an unprecedented molecular diversity to screen emerging targets for drug leads, and selected members of the NPL serves as outstanding small molecule probes to interrogate biology.

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