Cynthia HE

Associate Professor and Assistant Head of Department

Contact Information:

Department of Biological Science
National University of Singapore
14 Science Drive 4
Singapore 117543

Lab: Molecular & Cellular Parasitology

6516 7377
6779 2486

Academic Qualifications

PhD University of Pennsylvania
MSc University of British Columbia
BSc Nankai University

Research Areas

Cell and molecular biology of parasitic

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Research Interests

Trypanosoma brucei (锥形虫) causes African sleeping sickness in humans and Nagano in cattle, bringing huge economic burdens to many developing countries that can least afford it . Though largely neglected in the past, the studies of T. brucei and related pathogens have attracted great attentions in global health research in the recent years, including major funding support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

As a model system, the single-celled T. brucei is one of the earliest divergent eukaryotic organisms studied in laboratories. Genomic databases of T. brucei and related species are complete. Development in advanced molecular genetics methods such as inducible expression and RNAi allows rapid characterization of protein functions. Furthermore, T. brucei has a simple cellular anatomy with a single copy of nucleus, mitochondrion, flagellum, and Golgi, suitable for fluorescence microscopic and electron microscopic studies. Duplication and segregation of these organelles take place in a strict temporal and spatial order, allowing rapid and reliable identification of cell cycle stages in an unsynchronized population. Using T. brucei as a model organism, we study the organization of cellular structures and the regulation of their co-ordinated duplication/segregation during cell cycle.

Selected Publications

  1. Zhou Q, Gheiratmand L, Chen Y, Lim TK, Zhang J, Li S, Xia N, Liu B, Lin Q, He CY (2010). A comparative proteomic analysis reveals a new bi-lobe protein required for bi-lobe duplication and cell division in Trypanosoma brucei. PLoS One. 5(3): e9660.

  2. Koyfman AY, Schmid MF, Gheiratmand L, Fu CJ, Khant HA, Huang D, He CY, Chiu W (2011) Structure of Trypanosoma brucei flagellum accounts for its bihelical motion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 108 (27): 11105-11108.

  3. Zhou Q, Liu BH, Sun Y, He CY (2011) A coiled-coil and C2 domain-containing protein is required for FAZ assembly and cell morphogenesis. J Cell Sci. 124 (Pt22): 3848-58.

  4. Yang PY, Wang M, Li L, Wu H, He CY*, Yao SQ* (2012) Design, Synthesis and Biological Evaluation of Potent Azadipeptide Nitrile Inhibitors and Activity-Based Probes as Promising Anti-Trypanosoma brucei Agents. Chemistry. 18(21): 6528-41

  5. Yang PY, Wang M, Liu K, Ngai MH, Sheriff O, Lear MJ, Sze SK, He CY*, Yao, SQ*(2012) Parasite-Based Screening and Proteomic Profiling Reveal Orlistat™, an FDA-Approved Drug, as a Potential Anti-Trypanosoma brucei Agent. Chem. Eur. J. 18, 8403-8413.

  6. Wang M, Gheiratmand L, He CY (2012) An interplay between Centrin2 and Centrin4 on the bi-lobed structure in Trypanosoma brucei. Mol Microbiol. 83(6): 1153-61.

  7. Li FJ*, Shen Q, Wang C, Sun Y, Yuan AY and He CY* (2012) A role of autophagy in Trypanosoma brucei cell death. Cell. Microbiol. 14(8): 1242-56.

  8. Gheiratmand L, Brasseur A, Zhou Q, He CY (2013). Biochemical Characterization of the Bilobe Reveals a Continuous Structural Network Linking the Bi-lobe to Other Single-copied Organelles in Trypanosoma brucei. The Journal of biological chemistry. 288:3489-3499.

  9. Sun Y, Wang C, Yuan YA, He CY (2013). An intra-cellular membrane junction mediated by flagellum adhesion glycoproteins links flagellum biogenesis to cell morphogenesis in Trypanosoma brucei. Journal of cell science 126(Pt 2): 520-31

  10. Sherrif O, Lim Li-Fern and He CY (2014) Tracking the biogenesis and inheritance of subpellicular microtubule in Trypanosoma brucei with inducible YFP--tubulin. BioMed Research Internationl 2014: 893272. doi: 10.1155/2014/893272.

  11. Li FJ* and He CY* (2014) Acidocalcisome acidification is required for autophagy in Trypanosoma brucei. Autophagy (in press)

  12. Shima Bayat, Brasseur A, Chua XL, Zhang Y, Zhou Q, Low Boon Chuan, and He CY, LRRP1 is a RanGTPase activating protein essential for flagellum functions in Trypanosoma brucei. Journal of Cell Science, accepted.