Gene-Wei Li investigates the rules that cells use to maintain the correct ratio of the proteins they need to survive.
A typical bacterial genome contains more than 4,000 genes, which encode all of the proteins that the cells need to survive. How do cells know just how much of each protein they need for their everyday functions?
Gene-Wei Li, an MIT associate professor of biology, is trying to answer that question. A physicist by training, he uses genome-wide measurements and biophysical modeling to quantify cells’ protein production and discover how cells achieve such precise control of those quantities.
Using those techniques, Li has found that cells appear to strictly control the ratios of proteins that they produce, and that these ratios are consistent across cell types and across species.
“Coming from a physics...