Boyuan Wang is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pharmacology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.  He received his B.S. in Chemistry from Peking University and his Ph.D. from The Rockefeller University under the supervision of Dr. Tom Muir. Boyuan dedicated his undergraduate research to synthetic organic chemistry. Thereafter, he has been committed to unraveling molecular mechanisms of bacterial signaling for more than a decade. In graduate school, Boyuan became a dual expert in synthetic protein chemistry and biochemistry. Using this expertise, he was able to reconstitute, in a test tube, intercellular communication (quorum sensing) in Staphylococcus aureus, which controls virulence of this major commensal pathogen. Detailed biochemical analysis revealed unexpected physiological checkpoints of virulence induction, which provided new insights for anti-virulence drug design.

Boyuan then moved on to complete a postdoctoral fellowship in Dr. Michael Laub’s Lab at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he harnessed photo-crosslinking chemistry to identify new signaling targets of guanosine tetraphosphate (ppGpp), a starvation-induced second messenger. ppGpp is a key physiological regulator universally conserved in the bacterial kingdom and is required for intracellular infection and antibiotic persistence in many pathogenic species. Boyuan showed that ppGpp directly inhibits most purine nucleotide synthesis pathways in Escherichia coli and that this inhibition contributes to growth recovery of the bacterium by permitting the synthesis of two proteogenic amino acids following the nutrition downshift. Boyuan also discovered the first synthetase of ppApp, the adenosine variant of ppGpp. Intriguingly, Pseudomonas injects this protein into neighboring bacteria, killing them by deadlocking their metabolism.

In 2021, Boyuan joined the faculty of UT Southwestern Medical Center. The Wang Lab is broadly interested in using chemical biology approaches to address fundamental problems in bacteriology. At the same time, The Wang Lab will continue the effort of elucidating how ppGpp drives dormancy and antibiotic persistence in diverse bacterial organisms.

Research Interest

  • Chemical biology and protein semi-synthesis
  • Non-covalent interactions
  • Regulatory mechanisms in metabolism
  • Starvation response in Bacteria


Featured Publications LegendFeatured Publications

ppGpp Coordinates Nucleotide and Amino-Acid Synthesis in E. coli During Starvation.
Wang B, Grant RA, Laub MT, Mol Cell 2020 10 80 1 29-42.e10
An interbacterial toxin inhibits target cell growth by synthesizing (p)ppApp.
Ahmad S, Wang B, Walker MD, Tran HR, Stogios PJ, Savchenko A, Grant RA, McArthur AG, Laub MT, Whitney JC, Nature 2019 11 575 7784 674-678
Affinity-based capture and identification of protein effectors of the growth regulator ppGpp.
Wang B, Dai P, Ding D, Del Rosario A, Grant RA, Pentelute BL, Laub MT, Nat Chem Biol 2019 02 15 2 141-150
Functional Plasticity of the AgrC Receptor Histidine Kinase Required for Staphylococcal Virulence.
Wang B, Zhao A, Xie Q, Olinares PD, Chait BT, Novick RP, Muir TW, Cell Chem Biol 2017 Jan 24 1 76-86
Regulation of Virulence in Staphylococcus aureus: Molecular Mechanisms and Remaining Puzzles.
Wang B, Muir TW, Cell Chem Biol 2016 Feb 23 2 214-224
Key driving forces in the biosynthesis of autoinducing peptides required for staphylococcal virulence.
Wang B, Zhao A, Novick RP, Muir TW, Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2015 Aug 112 34 10679-84
Increasing AIP Macrocycle Size Reveals Key Features of agr Activation in Staphylococcus aureus.
Johnson JG, Wang B, Debelouchina GT, Novick RP, Muir TW, Chembiochem 2015 May 16 7 1093-100
Activation and inhibition of the receptor histidine kinase AgrC occurs through opposite helical transduction motions.
Wang B, Zhao A, Novick RP, Muir TW, Mol Cell 2014 Mar 53 6 929-40
Cleavage of RseA by RseP requires a carboxyl-terminal hydrophobic amino acid following DegS cleavage.
Li X, Wang B, Feng L, Kang H, Qi Y, Wang J, Shi Y Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2009 Sep 106 35 14837-42

Honors & Awards

  • NIH Pathway to Independence
    K99/R00, from NIGMS (2019)