Skip to main content
Skip to main menu Skip to spotlight region Skip to secondary region Skip to UGA region Skip to Tertiary region Skip to Quaternary region Skip to unit footer


Yifan Wang

Blurred image of a green laser used as background for stylistic purposes.
Assistant Professor

B.S. Zhejiang Sci-Tech University

Ph.D. University of Texas at San Antonio

Research Interests:

The Wang Lab studies oxygen activation and C–H/C–C bond functionalization by metalloenzymes. 

Molecular oxygen is a powerful oxidant, but its reaction with ground-state singlet molecules is kinetically unfavorable due to its spin-forbidden nature. To harness the oxidizing power of oxygen and manipulate biomolecules, iron-containing enzymes are frequently employed by aerobic organisms. Heme and non-heme iron-dependent oxygenases represent two of the most ubiquitous and potent natural catalysts, while the contribution of the ligand sets to oxygen activation and reaction outcome remains largely unknown due to the massive variations between heme and non-heme systems. We aim to fill the knowledge gap through a comparative investigation of the biomedically essential oxygenases with specific ligand sets. Structural and spectroscopic techniques are used to probe the catalytic mechanisms and structure-function correlations of these systems.

Our research will broaden the understanding of iron-oxygen chemistry and establish the platform for therapeutic interventions.


Selected Publications:

15. Shin, I.; Wang, Y.; Liu, A. A new regime of the histidyl-ligated heme-dependent oxygenase superfamily. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 2021118, in press  (DOI: 10.1073/pnas.xxxxxxx (pending))  

14. Wang, Y.; Shin, I.; Li, J.; Liu, A. Crystal structure of human cysteamine dioxygenase provides a structural rationale for its function as an oxygen sensor. J. Biol. Chem2021297, in press (DOI: 10.1016/j.jbc.2021.101176

13. Wang, Y.; Davis, I.; Liu, A. Molecular rationale for partitioning between C-H and C-F bond activation in heme-dependent tyrosine hydroxylase. J. Am. Chem. Soc2021143(12), 4680-4693 (DOI: 10.1021/jacs.1c00175)

12. Shin, I.; Davis, I.; Nieves-Merced, K.; Wang, Y.; McHardy, S.; Liu A.  A novel catalytic heme cofactor in SfmD with a single thioether bond and a bis-His ligand set revealed by the spectroscopic and structural study. Chem. Sci202112(11), 3984-3998 (DOI: 10.1039/D0SC06369J)

11. Wang, Y.*; Liu, KF.*; Yang, Y.; Davis, I.; Liu, A. Observing 3-hydroxyanthranilate-3,4-dioxygenase in action through a crystalline lens. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U. S. A. 2020117(33), 19720-19730.(DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2005327117) (*Equal contribution)  

10. Wang, Y.; Davis, I.; Yang, Y.; Davis, I.; Chen, Y.; Naik, S.; Griffith, W.; Liu A. Characterization of the non-heme iron center of cysteamine dioxygenase and its interaction with substrates. J. Biol. Chem2020295(33), 11789-11802. (DOI: 10.1074/jbc.RA120.013915)

9. Wang, Y.; Liu, A. Carbon-fluorine bond cleavage mediated by metalloenzymes. Chem. Soc. Rev. 202049, 4906-4925. (DOI: 10.1039/C9CS00740G) 

8. Nguyen, R.; Yang, Y.; Wang, Y.; Davis, I.; Liu, A. Substrate-assisted hydroxylation and O-demethylation in the peroxidase-like cytochrome P450 enzyme CYP121. ACS Catal. 202010(2), 1628-1639. (DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.9b04596)

7. Wang, Y.; Davis, I.; Shin, I.; Wherritt, D.; Griffith, W.; Dornevil, K.; Colabroy, K.; Liu, A. Biocatalytic carbon-hydrogen and carbon-fluorine bond cleavage through hydroxylation promoted by a histidyl-ligated heme enzyme. ACS Catal. 20199(6), 4764-4776. (DOI: 10.1021/acscatal.9b00231)

Featured by ACS Editors’ Choice and ACS LiveSlides

6. Wang, Y.; Shin, I.; Fu, Y.; Colabroy, K.; Liu, A. Crystal structures of L-DOPA dioxygenase from Streptomyces Sclerotialus. Biochemistry. 201958(52), 5339-5350. DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.9b00396)

Invited original contribution for a special issue “Current Topics in Mechanistic Enzymology 2019”

5. Wang, Y.; Griffith, W.; Li, J.; Koto, T.; Wherritt, D.; Fritz, E.; Liu, A. Cofactor biogenesis in cysteamine dioxygenase: C-F bond cleavage with genetically incorporated unnatural tyrosine. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed201857(27), 8149-8153. (DOI: 10.1002/ange.201803907)

​4. Li, J.; Griffith, W.; Davis, I.; Shin, I.; Wang, J.; Li, F.; Wang, Y.; Wherritt, D.; Liu, A. Cleavage of a carbon–fluorine bond by an engineered cysteine dioxygenase. Nat. Chem. Biol. 201814(9), 853-860. (DOI: 10.1038/s41589-018-0085-5)

3. Wang, Y.; Li, J.; Liu, A. Oxygen activation by mononuclear nonheme iron dioxygenases involved in the degradation of aromatics. J. Biol. Inorg. Chem. 201722(2), 395-405. (DOI: 10.1007/s00775-017-1436-5) Invited article for a special issue “60 Years of Oxygen Activation”

2. Yang, Y.; Davis, I.; Ha, U.; Wang, Y.; Shin, I.; Liu, A. A pitcher-and-catcher mechanism drives endogenous substrate isomerization by a dehydrogenase in kynurenine metabolism. J. Biol. Chem2016291(51), 26252-26261. (DOI: 10.1074/jbc.M116.759712)

Featured as "Papers of the Week”

1. Zuo, B.; Liu, Y.; Wang, L.; Zhu, Y.; Wang, Y.; Wang, X. Depth profile of the segmental dynamics at a poly(methyl methacrylate) film surface. Soft Matter, 2013,9, 9376-9384. (DOI: 10.1039/C3SM51658J)

Of note:

The Wang Lab is recruiting! Students and postdocs interested in protein chemistry are welcome to join us. Please send a CV to Dr. Wang.

Articles Featuring Yifan Wang

The Department of Chemistry welcomes Dr. Yifan Wang to the faculty as an Assistant Professor in Bioinorganic Chemistry. Dr. Wang obtained her BSc from Zhejiang Sci-Tech University (China) in 2015, and she spent Fall 2014 at the…

My Graduate Students

Stephanie Jordan

Graduate Student

Bingnan Li

Graduate Student

Katie Nolan

Graduate Student

Support Us

We appreciate your financial support. Your gift is important to us and helps support critical opportunities for students and faculty alike, including lectures, travel support, and any number of educational events that augment the classroom experience. Click here to learn more about giving.

Every dollar given has a direct impact upon our students and faculty.

Got More Questions?

Undergraduate inquiries: 

Registration and credit

AP Credit, Section Changes, Overrides,

Graduate inquiries:

Contact Us!

Assistant to the Department Head: Donna Spotts, 706-542-1919 

Main office phone: 706-542-1919 

Main Email:

Head of Chemistry: Prof. Jason Locklin