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Magdy M. Mahfouz

Assistant Professor, Plant Science

Biological and Environmental Science and Engineering Division
Center membership : 
Desert Agriculture


Education Profile

  • ​​​​​​Ph.D. Molecular Genetics, The Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio, USA 2004
  • M.S. Microbial Genetics, Cairo University, Cairo Egypt, 1997

Research Interests


Professor Mahfouz's research interests are focused on developing genome-engineering technologies for basic biology and biotechnology. The application of genome editing technologies requires highly specific and customizable DNA binding modules that can be engineered to bind any user-defined DNA sequence.

Transcriptional activator-like effectors (TALEs) are proteins secreted by Xanthomonas bacteria when they infect plants. TALEs contain a modular DNA binding domain that can be easily engineered to bind any sequence of interest, and have been used, by our group and others, to provide user-selected DNA-binding modules to generate chimeric nucleases and transcriptional regulators in mammalian cells and plants.

TALE DNA binding modules fused with endonucleases (TALENs) can direct nuclease activity to site-specific sequences in the genome with extreme precision, allowing targeted gene knock out, integration and correction. Developing TALE-based technologies will allow researchers to routinely and efficiently edit genomes of virtually any species, by directing mutations in a truly targeted fashion.

Selected Publications

  • ​Dong Deng, Ping Yin, Chuangye Yan, Xiaojing Pan, Shiqian Qi, Tian Xie, Xinqi Gong, Magdy Mahfouz, Jian‐Kang Zhu, Nieng Yan and Yigong Shi (2012) Recognition of methylated DNA by TAL effectors. Cell Research 10:1502-4
  • Lixin Li, Ahmed Atef, Aga Piatek, Jamal Bin Saber, Jian‐Kang Zhu and Magdy M. Mahfouz (2012) Rapid and Highly Efficient Construction of TALE‐based Transcriptional Regulators and Nucleases for Genome Modification. Plant Molecular Biology 78: 407-16
  • Dong Deng, Chuangye Yan, Xiaojing Pan, Magdy Mahfouz, Jiawei Wang, Jian‐Kang Zhu, Yigong Shi, and Nieng Yan (2012) Structural basis for sequence specific recognition of DNA by TAL effectors. Science 335: 720-3
  • Magdy M. Mahfouz, Lixin Li, Marek Piateck, Xiaoyun Fang, Hicham Mansour, Dhinoth K. Bangarusamy and Jian‐Kang Zhu (2012) Targeted Transcriptional Repression Using a Chimeric TALE‐SRDX repressor protein. Plant Molecular Biology 78: 311-321
  • Magdy M. Mahfouz, Lixin Li, Md. Shamimuzzaman, Anjar Wibowo, Xiaoyun Fang, and Jian‐Kang Zhu (2011) De novo‐engineered transcription activator‐like effector (TALE) hybrid nuclease with novel DNA binding specificity creates double‐strand breaks. Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences USA 108:2623‐2628.