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Feng Li, PhD

Research Scientist in Cell Biology

Contact Information

Feng Li, PhD

Research Summary

I am interested membrane dynamics. My current research is focused on elucidating the molecular mechanism of biological membrane fusion.

Extensive Research Description

Synaptic vesicle fusion is an ultrafast and highly synchronized process. In the prefusion stage, vesicles are docked and primed at the presynaptic terminal, probably through some tethering factors and the initial association of the v- and t-SNAREs, and form a ready-to-release pool. Upon the entry of calcium, the SNAREs further zipper up to induce bilayer merging, and neurotransmitters are then released from the vesicles to synaptic cleft in sub-millisecond. How this fusion achieves ultrafast kinetics and synchronicity is poorly understood. It likely involves the collaborative efforts of several proteins such as Syntaxin, SNAP25, VAMP2, Synaptotagmin, Complexin, and probably Munc18, alpha-SNAP, NSF, too. To unravel the molecular basis of this process, it requires a thorough understanding of the role of each protein as well as their interplay.


Selected Publications

  • The Surface Force Apparatus to Reveal the Energetics of Biomolecules Assembly. Application to DNA Bases Pairing and SNARE Fusion Proteins FoldingEric Perez, Feng Li, David Tareste, and Frédéric Pincet, Cellular and Molecular Bioengineering, 2008, 1, (4), 240-246.