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Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Houston, Texas

Images from biochemistry and molecular biology research
Verna and Marrs McLean Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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Ming Zhou, Ph.D.

Ming Zhou

Associate Professor
Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

Ruth McLean Bowman Bowers Professorship
CPRIT Scholar in Cancer Research

Education and Awards

  • B.S., Biochemistry, Fudan University, Shanghai, China, 1985-1990
  • Ph.D., Physiology and Biophysics, State University of New York, Buffalo, NY, USA, 1996-1999
  • Postdoctoral Training, Rockefeller University, New York City, NY, USA, 1999-2004
  • Pew Scholar in Biomedical Sciences, 2006

Research Interest

Lipid bilayer membranes form water-impermeable barriers that define the boundaries of biological cells and of specialized compartments within cells. Membrane proteins are embedded in lipid bilayers and serve a wide range of essential cellular functions, such as mediating signal transduction through the membrane, facilitating uptake of nutrients and excretion of wastes, and metabolizing of lipids and fatty acids. The main impetus behind my research program is the desire to understand how membrane proteins work at the molecular level, both to improve our understanding of biological mechanisms and to provide information on protein-ligand interactions of physiological and pharmacological significance. In particular, our focus is on two families of proteins, membrane transport proteins that facilitate transmembrane flux of ions and small molecules, and membrane-embedded enzymes that are involved in synthesis and modification of lipids, fatty acids, cholesterol and terpenoids. We have solved a number of novel structures of membrane proteins (Figure. 1), and these structures have served as the basis for further investigations into their cellular and molecular functions.

Illustration of membrane protein crystal structures

Figure 1: Membrane protein crystal structures solved in the Zhou lab.

(a) The mammalian UT-B urea channel.
(b) The bacterial potassium transporter, TrkH.
(c) A sugar transporter from the phosphoenolpyruvate phosphotransferase system ChbC.

Selected Publications

  • Cao Y, Pan Y, Huang H, Jin X, Levin EJ, Kloss B, Zhou M. Gating of the TrkH ion channel by its associated RCK protein TrkA. Nature; April 18, 2013; Vol 496: 317-21.
  • Pan Y, Levin EJ, Quick M, Zhou M. Potentiation of the Kv1 family K+ channel by cortisone analogs. ACS Chemical Biology; July 17, 2012; Vol 7: 1641-6.
  • Levin EJ, Cao Y, Enkavi G, Quick M, Pan Y, Tajkhorshid E, Zhou M. Structure and permeation mechanism of a mammalian urea transporter. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA; July 10, 2012; Vol 109 (28): 11194-9.
  • Cao, Y., Jin, X.,Levin, E.J., Huang, H.,Zong, Y., Quick, M., Weng, J., Pan, Y., Love, J., Punta, M., Rost, B., Hendrickson, W., Javitch, J., Rajashankar, K., Zhou, M. Crystal structure of a phosphorylation-coupled saccharide transporter. Nature; May 5, 2011, Vol 473 (7345): 50-4. PMCID: PMC3201810.
  • Pan, Y., Weng, J. Levin, E.J., Zhou, M. Oxidation of NADPH on Kvβ1 inhibits the ball-and-chain type inactivation by restraining the chain. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA; April 5, 2011, Vol. 108 (14): 5885-90. PMCID: PMC3078402.
  • Cao, Y., Jin, X., Huang, H., Derebe, M., Levin, E.J., Kabaleeswaran, V., Pan, Y., Punta, M., Love, J., Weng, J., Quick, M., Ye, S., Kloss, B., Bruni, R., Martinez-Hackert, E., Hendrickson, W., Rost, B., Javitch, J., Rajashankar, K., Jiang, Y., Zhou, M. Crystal structure of a potassium ion transporter TrkH. Nature; March 21, 2011, Vol 471 (7338): 336-40. PMCID: PMC3077569.
  • Levin, E.J., Quick, M., Zhou, M. Crystal structure of a bacterial homologue of the kidney urea transporter. Nature; Dec. 10, 2009, Vol 462 (7274): 757-61. PMCID: PMC2871279.
  • Pan, Y, Weng, J., Kabaleeswaran, V., Li, H., Cao, Y., Bhosle, R., Zhou, M. Cortisone dissociates Shaker family K+ channels from their β subunits. Nature Chemical Biology; November 2008; Vol 4 (11): 708-14. PMCID: PMC2633621.
  • Pan, Y., Weng, J., Cao, Y., Bhosle, R., Zhou, M. Functional coupling between the Kv1.1 channel and an aldo-ketoreductase Kvbeta1. Journal of Biological Chemistry; March 28, 2008; Vol. 283 (13): 8634-42. PMCID: PMC2417172.
  • Weng, J., Cao, Y., Moss, N., Zhou, M. Modulation of voltage-dependent Shaker family K channel by an aldo-ketoreductase. Journal of Biological Chemistry; June 2, 2006; Vol 281 (22): 15194-200. PMCID: PMC2862575.
  • Zhou, M., Morais-Cabral, J., Mann, S., MacKinnon, R. Potassium channel receptor site for the inactivation gate and quaternary amine blockers. Nature; June 7, 2001; Vol 411 (6838): 657-61.
  • Gulbis, J*, Zhou, M*, Mann, S, MacKinnon, R. Structure of the cytoplasmic β subunit-T1 assembly of voltage-dependent K channels. Science; July 7, 2000; Vol 289 (5476): 123-7.
  • Zhou, M., Engel, A. G., Auerbach A. Serum choline activates mutant acetylcholine receptors that cause slow channel congenital myasthenic syndromes. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. Aug. 31, 1999; Vol 96 (18): 10466-71.
  • Grosman, C., Zhou, M., Auerbach, A. Mapping the conformational wave of acetylcholine receptor channel gating. Nature; Feb. 17, 2000; Vol 403 (6771): 773-6.

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