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.
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”
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
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
2011 U.S. Provisional Application No. 1/490,532, Ojha Anil, Yang Yong, Ke Danxia and Zhang Peijun. (2011) USE OF MYCOBACTERIUM SMEGMATIS TREHALOSE DICMYOLATE HYDROLASE.
Dr. Xiong Yong (Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, CT)
I am currently collaborating with Dr. Xiong Yong on the mechanism of HIV restriction by host factors Trim5a, TrimCyp and MxB. This collaboration has yielded publications in Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2012, Cell Host & Microbe 2014
Dr. Klaus Schulten (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign)
I am currently collaborating with Dr. Schulten on MD simulation of capsid assemblies and bacterial chemotaxis receptor signaling arrays. This collaboration has yielded a publication in Nature 2013 (cover story).
Dr. Tina Lee (CMU)
I am currently collaborating with Dr. Lee on the structure of GTPase atlastin. This collaboration has yielded a publication in J. Cell Biology 2011, Mol Biol Cell. 2014
Dr. So-Jung Park (Department of Chemistry, University of Pennsylvania)
I am collaborating with Dr. So-Jung Park on the 3D structural characterization of magneto nano-particle assemblies. This collaboration has yielded a publication in ACS Nano 2013, ACS Nano 2014.
Dr. Nicholas Kotov (University of Michigan)
I am collaborating with Dr. Nicholas Kotov on the ‘bionic’ assemblies that combine the properties of inorganic and biological components. This collaboration has yielded a publication in Nat Mater 2014, Nat Commun 2014.
Dr. Angela Gronenborn (Structural Biology, Pitt)
I am currently collaborating with Dr. Angela Gronenborn on the structure of HIV capsid and interaction with host cell factors. This collaboration has yielded publications in Cell 2009, PLoS Pathogen 2011, PLoS Pathogen 2012, and Biochemistry 2011, J Mol Biol. 2011, Nature 2013.
Dr. Simon Watkins (CBI, Pitt); Dr. Zandrea Ambrose (Medicine, Pitt)
I am currently collaborating with Drs. Simon Watkins and Zandrea Ambrose on 3D direct visualization of HIV-1 and host cell interactions using correlative light fluorescence microscopy and cryo-electron tomography. This collaboration has yielded a publication in Structure 2011, J. Vis. Exp. 2013.
Dr. Song Li (Pharmaceutical Science, Pitt)
I am collaborating with Dr. Li on the structures of lipid vehicles for drug delivery. This collaboration has yielded publications in Mol. Pharmaceut. 2013, Pharm Res. 2013.
Dr. Anil Ojha (Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Pitt)
I am currently collaborating with Dr. Ojha on the membrane envelope structure of mycobacterial tuberculosis. This collaboration has yielded a publication in J. Biol. Chem. 2013.
Drs. Yan Xu and Pei Tang (Department of Anesthesiology, Pitt)
I am collaborating with Drs. Yan Xu and Pei Tang on the structure of human glycine receptor. This collaboration has yielded a publication in Structure 2013.
Dr. Nathaniel Rosi (Chemistry, Pitt)
I am collaborating with Dr. Rosi on a new Peptide-Based Method for the Design and Synthesis of Nanoparticle Superstructures. This collaboration has yielded publications in JACS 2008 and JACS 2010, Small 2011, Nano Letter 2013