Carmen Lorena Lopez
Chemical and Biological Engineering
I’m a PhD student in Dr. Zengyi Shao’s lab. Our lab aims to elucidate the functional genomics of superior microbial species, particularly yeast, for the creation of efficient microbial factories.
The focus of my research is to explore the potential of noncoding DNA sequences in gene regulation. In my first project, we used the model yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and demonstrated that short DNA sequences flanking gene expression cassettes alter gene behavior; this feature can be exploited to generate improved variants via the creation of libraries. In my second project, we inspected the unique replication and segregation mode exhibited by the non-conventional yeast Yarrowia lipolytica, which revealed the role of a spacer DNA within the autonomous replicating sequence in proper plasmid maintenance. Inclusion of a spacer-containing ARS in the plasmid design generates a more stable system leading to higher production of a target compound. Currently, I’m working to design insulator elements intended to protect target pathways from the chromatin regulation exerted at the genome.
Collectively, these directions help to advance the development of genetic tools for the manipulation of species with great biotechnological potential