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Wei Yang, Ph.D., NIH Distinguished Investigator

Wei Yang.
Scientific Focus Areas: Structural Biology, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry, Immunology, Cancer Biology, Virology

Professional Experience

  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2015
  • National Academy of Sciences, 2013
  • Ph.D., Columbia University, 1991
  • M.A., Columbia University, 1986
  • B.A., State University of New York at Stony Brook, 1985

Current Research

My group studies DNA recombination, repair, and replication. In particular, we are interested in V(D)J recombination, mismatch repair, nucleotide excision repair, and translesion DNA synthesis. We use X-ray crystallography, cryoEM, molecular biology, and various biochemical and biophysical approaches to find out the molecular mechanisms underpinning these biological processes. In recent years, we have discovered that DNA synthesis and RNA degradation reactions are propelled by cation trafficking and require transiently bound Mg²⁺ and K⁺ ions that are absent in the static structures of substrate- or product-enzyme complexes.

Select Publications

Lesion recognition by XPC, TFIIH and XPA in DNA excision repair.
Kim J, Li CL, Chen X, Cui Y, Golebiowski FM, Wang H, Hanaoka F, Sugasawa K, Yang W.
Nature (2023 May) 617:170-175. Abstract/Full Text
Autophosphorylation transforms DNA-PK from protecting to processing DNA ends.
Liu L, Chen X, Li J, Wang H, Buehl CJ, Goff NJ, Meek K, Yang W, Gellert M.
Mol Cell (2022 Jan 6) 82:177-189.e4. Abstract/Full Text
View More Publications

Research in Plain Language

We investigate the biological processes of DNA—the molecule that encodes the genetic blueprint for all living organisms. DNA replication ensures life’s continuity and proliferation. DNA repair processes maintain the integrity and error-free of our genome. We also analyze V(D)J DNA recombination, which is a programmed process that cut and paste pieces of DNA to produce new antibodies and antigen receptors to fight against foreign invaders.

Last Reviewed June 2024