Yan Kung

Associate Professor of Chemistry
Yan Kung headshot


Phone 610-526-5460
Location Park 286


  • B.A. Chemistry, Colby College
  • Ph.D. Biological Chemistry, M.I.T.
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory – University of California, Berkeley

Areas of Focus

Biological chemistry, structural biology

Website: Kung Lab website
Follow: @KungLab


In the Kung lab, our aim is to gain molecular insight into the function of enzymes by determining and examining their three-dimensional structures. By studying enzyme structures using X-ray crystallography while characterizing their functions with complementary biochemical techniques, we can develop a chemical understanding of enzyme catalysis.

Enzyme systems of particular interest include those that are involved in the biosynthesis of molecules that are useful to society, such as drug or biofuel compounds. With a deep awareness of how an enzyme’s structure dictates its function, we may even attempt to engineer the enzyme in order to alter its function, allowing us to design modified enzymes that are tailor-made to possess enhanced functionality or to produce more desirable drugs or biofuels.

Selected Publications

Miller, B.R. and Kung, Y. (2018) Structural insight into substrate and product binding in an archaeal mevalonate kinase. PLoS ONE. 13, e0208419. Link.

Ragwan, E.R., Arai, E., and Kung, Y. (2018) New crystallographic snapshots of large domain movements in bacterial HMG-CoA reductase. Biochemistry. 57, 5715-5725. Link.

Miller, B.R. and Kung, Y. (2018) Structural features and domain movements controlling substrate binding and cofactor specificity in class II HMG-CoA reductase. Biochemistry. 57, 654-662. Link.

Kung, Y. and Drennan, C.L. (2017) "One-Carbon Chemistry of Nickel-Containing Carbon Monoxide Dehydrogenase and Acetyl-CoA Synthase" in The Biological Chemistry of Nickel. Eds. Deborah Zamble, Magdalena Rowińska-Żyrek, Henryk Kozlowski. London: Royal Society of Chemistry. pp. 121-148. Link.

Dowling, D.P., Kung, Y., Croft, A.K., Taghizadeh, K., Kelly, W.L., Walsh, C.T., and Drennan, C.L. (2016) Structural elements of an NRPS cyclization domain and its intermodule docking domain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 113, 12432-12437. Link.

Kung, Y., McAndrew, R.P., Xie, X., Liu, C.C., Pereira, J.H., Adams, P.D., Keasling, J.D. (2014) Constructing tailored isoprenoid products by structure-guided modification of geranylgeranyl reductase. Structure. 22, 1028-1036. Link.

Kung, Y., Ando, N., Doukov, T.I., Blasiak, L.C., Seravalli, J., Bender, G., Ragsdale, S.W., and Drennan, C.L. (2012) Visualizing molecular juggling within a B12-dependent methyltransferase complex. Nature. 48, 265-269. Link.

Kung, Y., Runguphan, W., and Keasling, J.D. (2012) From fields to fuels: Recent advances in the microbial production of biofuels. ACS Synth. Biol. 1, 498-513. Link.

Ando, N., Kung, Y., Can, M., Bender, G., Ragsdale, S.W., and Drennan, C.L. (2012) Transient B12-dependent methyltransferase complexes revealed by small-angle X-ray scattering. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 134, 17945-17954. Link.

Kung, Y. and Drennan, C.L. (2011) A role for nickel-iron cofactors in biological carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide utilization. Curr. Opin. Chem. Biol. 15, 276-283. Link.

Kung, Y., Doukov, T.I., Seravalli, J., Ragsdale, S.W., and Drennan, C.L. (2009) Crystallographic snapshots of cyanide- and water-bound C-clusters from bifunctional carbon monoxide dehydrogenase/acetyl-CoA synthase. Biochemistry. 48, 7432-7440. Link.

Courses taught

  • CHEM 104, General Chemistry II
  • CHEM 242, Biological Chemistry
  • CHEM 251, Research Methodology I
  • CHEM 252, Research Methodology II
  • CHEM 345, Advanced Biological Chemistry
  • CHEM 377, Biochemistry II: Metabolism
  • BIOL 354, Basic Concepts and Special Topics in Biochemistry

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