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Teaching Staff

Dr. ZHAI, Yuanliang

Dr. ZHAI, Yuanliang

Assistant Professor, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, HKU

BSc (Sun Yat-Sen University); MPhil (Sun Yat-Sen University); PhD (HKUST)

  • 2299 0847
  • 2559 9114
  • KBSB 4N10

Teaching Areas

  • Structural biology
  • Molecular and cell biology
  • Principles of Quantitative Biology Instrumentation

Research Interests

  • Regulation of eukaryotic DNA replication;
  • Chromatin organization and Chromosome dynamics;
  • Structural determination of macromolecular complexes using cryo-electron microscopy;

Current Research

  • Structural and functional characterization of DNA replication complexes
  • Elucidating the mechanisms regulating replication initiation in eukaryotes
  • Understanding the basis of replicative helicase loading and activation


  • Junior Fellow Institute for Advanced Study, HKUST
  • Division of Life Science, HKUST

Publications and News

  • Li, N.*, Lam, W.*, Zhai, Y.*#, Cheng, J.*, Cheng, E., Zhao, Y., Gao, N.# & Tye, B.# (2018) Structure of the origin recognition complex bound to DNA replication origin. Nature 559, 217-222, *Co-first authors # co-corresponding authors

Hi-res image of structure of the origin recognition complex bound to DNA revealed


  •  Zhai, Y.#, Li, N., Jiang, H., Huang, X., Gao, N. #, Tye, B. # (2017) Unique roles played by each of the non-identical MCM subunits in DNA Replication Licensing. Molecular Cell 67, 168-179. # co-corresponding authors
  • Zhai, Y., Cheng, E., Wu, H., Li, N., Yung, P., Gao, N., and Tye, B. Open-ringed Structure of the Cdt1-MCM2-7 Complex as a Precursor of the MCM Double Hexamer. (2017) Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 24, 300-308
  • News: Scientists reveal open-ringed structure of Cdt1-Mcm2-7 complex

  •  Zhai, Y., and Tye, B. (2017) Structure of the MCM2-7 Double Hexamer and Its Implications for the Mechanistic Functions of the Mcm2-7 Complex. in “DNA replication: From Old Principles to New Discovery” Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 1042:189-205.
  • Li, N.*, Zhai, Y.*#, Zhang, Y., Li, W., Yang, M., Lei, J., Tye, B.#, and Gao, N.# (2015) Structure of the Eukaryotic Minichromosome Maintenance Complex at 3.8 Å. Nature, 524, 186–191 *Co-first authors # co-corresponding authors
  • News:

Scientists solve the structure of the eukaryotic MCM2-7 complex

  •  Zhao, T., Wang, Y., Zhai, Y., Qu, X., Ai, F., Du, S., and Loy, M. (2015) A user-friendly two-color super-resolution localization microscope. Optics Express 23, 1879-187