Peijun Zhang
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Phone (412) 383-5907
Fax (412) 648-9008

University of Pittsburgh
2050 Biomedical Science Tower 3


Peijun Zhang

Associate Professor

We are interested in structural and functional characterization of macromolecular assemblies using three-dimensional cryo-electron microscopy (cryoEM) and biochemical, biophysical methods. Proteins carry out their cellular functions through formation of dynamic multi-protein complexes and macromolecular assemblies. These complexes or machines are usually too large and/or too heterogeneous for structural solution by X-ray crystallography or NMR spectroscopy methods. CryoEM is uniquely poised for structure determination of large complexes and macromolecular assemblies, and their conformational changes to provide structural snapshots along dynamic processes. Our interest is to combine structural information obtained through cryoEM methods, with biochemical, physiological analysis to understand molecular mechanisms of protein complexes and machines. We currently focus on three research areas: (I) Understanding HIV-1 and host cell interactions during the early stages of virus infection; (II) Eliciting 3D architectures of the chemotaxis receptor signaling complexes and their assemblies to understand the molecular mechanism of signal transduction in bacterial chemotaxis; and (III) Technology development to enhance the capability of cryo-electron tomography for 3D architectures of native mammalian cells at different signaling state.

Visit Peijun's lab website

Education & Training

Nanjing University, Nanjing, China
B.S., 1987 in Electrical Engineering

Nanjing University, Nanjing, China
M.S., 1990 in Solid State Physics

University of Virginia
Ph.D., Physiology and Biophysics

National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, NIH
Visiting Fellow 1998 – 2000, Program Director:  Dr. Hinshaw

National Cancer Institute, NIH
Postdoctoral Fellow 2000 – 2002, Program Director:  Dr. Subramanian

Awards & Honors

1999    Philips Best in Show Award, Chesapeake Society for Microscopy
2003    United States Department of Health and Human Services “On-the-Spot Award”
2005    Leica Best General Microscopy Presentation, Chesapeake Society for Microscopy
2007    Senior Vice Chancellor’s Award, University of Pittsburgh
2010    Travel award at the “Recent Advances and Future Prospects for Visualizing Macromolecular Complexes and Cellular Structures Workshop”

Representative Publications

Yang Y., Bhatti A., Ke D., Gonzalez-Juarrero M., Lenaerts A., Kremer L., Guerardel Y., Zhang P. and Ojhaa A. K.(2013) Exposure to a cutinase-like serine esterase triggers rapid lysis of multiple mycobacterial species. J. Biol. Chem. 288(1):382-92.

Gao X., Huang Y., Makhov A., Epperly M, Lu J., Grab S., Zhang P., Rohan L., Xie X., Wipf P., Greenberger J. and Li S. (2013) Nano-assembly of Surfactants with Interfacial Drug-Interactive Motifs as Tailor-Designed Drug Carriers. Mol. Pharmaceut.10(1):187-98.

Zhao G, Perilla J. R., Yufenyuy E. L., Meng X., Chen B., Ning J., Ahn J., Gronenborn A. M., Schulten K., Aiken C. and Zhang P. (2013). Structure of the Mature HIV-1 Capsid by Cryo-EM and All-Atom Molecular Dynamics Simulation. Nature 497, 643-646

Hickey R. J., Meng X., Zhang P. and Park S. (2013) Low-dimensional Nanoparticle Clustering in Polymer Micelles and Their Transverse Relaxivity Rates. ACS Nano 7(7):5824-33.

Zhang P., Huang Y., Makhov A.M., Gao X., Zhang P. and Li S. (2013). Characterization of Spherulites as a Lipidic Carrier for Low and High Molecular Weight Agents. Pharm Res. 30(6):1525-35. PMCID: 3654020

Active Grants

University of Pittsburgh Center for HIV Protein Interactions (PCHPI)
08/27/07 – 07/31/17
National Institutes of Health

Structure and Function of Membrane Receptor Signaling Complex in Bacterial Chemotaxis
08/01/12 – 07/31/15
National Institutes of Health