Zhaohui Sunny Zhou
Analytical, Bioorganic, Medicinal, and Protein Chemistry
1997 Ph.D., The Scripps Research Institute
1990 B.Sc., Peking University, Beijing, China
Innovative Research Award, Barnett Institute, Northeastern University, 2008.
Young Faculty Performance Award, College of Sciences, Washington State University, 2005.
Professor Zhou’s group applies analytical, organic and protein chemistry, as well as biochemistry, enzymology and protein engineering to biology and medicine. Students actively collaborate with biologists and chemists alike in academia and industry all over the world.
One major program is to develop chemical and biochemical methodologies to characterize protein post-translational modifications for proteomic analysis. For instance, devising new protein chemistry reactions specific for a particular type of modified amino acid permits selective affinity labeling and mass tagging. Ongoing projects center on protein methylations and proteolysis, both of which play pivotal and diverse roles in biological regulation and disease development. Comprehensive characterization of these processes will not only discover new biomarkers for disease diagnosis, but also identify novel targets for drug development.
In parallel, a general strategy is envisioned to selectively decorate proteins, using a combination of engineered enzymes with tailored sequence specificity and chemical modifications with functional selectivity. An exciting application is to improve stability and reduce immune response of protein drugs, whose uses are surpassing those of traditional small molecule drugs.
A third major program is the mechanistic study of biologically important enzymes, the design and synthesis of inhibitors as therapeutic agents. Targeted pathways include those involved in bacterial communication and biofilm formation; the latter is a significant clinical problem with no effective treatment. As these pathways are not essential for bacterial growth, developing resistance is less of a concern than traditional antibiotics.
Protein Isoaspartate Methyltransferase-Mediated 18O-Labeling of Isoaspartic Acid for Mass Spectrometry Analysis. Min Liu, Janet Cheetham, Nina Cauchon, Judy Ostovic, Wenqin Ni, Da Ren, Zhaohui Sunny Zhou. Anal Chem, 2012, 84, 1056–1062. PubMed 22132761 pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ac202652
Enzyme-Catalyzed Transfer of a Ketone Group from an S-Adenosyl-Methionine Analog: A Tool for the Functional Analysis of Methyltransferases. Bobby W.K. Lee, He G. Sun, Tianzhu Zang, ByungJu Kim, Joshua F. Alfaro, and Zhaohui Sunny Zhou. J Am Chem Soc, 2010, 132, 3642-3. PubMed 20196537 pubs.acs.org/doi/abs/10.1021/ja908995p
* Highlighted in JACS Select (issue 12; J Am Chem Soc, 2011, 133, 13207–13212) collection focused on Chemical Mechanisms in Biochemical Reactions. Professor Peter J. Stang, Editor-in-Chief, commented, “Your Communication was selected because of its high scientific quality and broad appeal.” pubs.acs.org/JACSbeta/jvi/issue12.html
* Highlighted in Nachrichten aus der Chemie, 2010, 58 (5), 518; Official journal of the German Chemical Society (Gesellschaft Deutscher Chemiker); Equivalent of Chemical and Engineering News of the American Chemical Society.
Zoospore interspecific signaling promotes plant infection by Phytophthora. Ping Kong, Brett M Tyler, Patricia A Richardson, Bobby W. K. Lee, Zhaohui S Zhou and Chuanxue Hong. BMC Microbiology, 2010, 10, 313. PubMed 21138563 doi:10.1186/1471-2180-10-31
* Highly accessed article on BioMed Central
Substrates of the Arabidopsis thaliana Protein Isoaspartyl Methyltransferase1 identified using phage display and biopanning. Tingsu Chen, Nihar Nayak, Susmita Maitra Majee, Jonathan Lowenson, Kim R. Schafermeyer, Alyssa C. Eliopoulos, Taylor D. Lloyd, Randy Dinkins, Sharyn E. Perry, Nancy R. Forsthoefel, Steven G. Clarke, Daniel M. Vernon, Zhaohui Sunny Zhou, Tomas Rejtar, and Allan Bruce Downie. J Biol Chem, 2010, 285, 37281-37292. PubMed 20870712 doi:10.1074/jbc.M110.15700
Analysis of Isoaspartic Acid by Selective Proteolysis with Asp-N and Electron Transfer Dissociation Mass Spectrometry. Wenqin Ni, Shujia Dai, Barry L. Karger and Zhaohui Sunny Zhou. Anal Chem, 2010, 82, 7485–7491. PubMed 20712325
Desulfurization of cysteine-containing peptides resulting from sample preparation for protein characterization by mass spectrometry. Zhouxi Wang, Tomas Rejtar, Zhaohui Sunny Zhou and Barry L. Karger. Rapid Commun Mass Spectrom, 2010, 24, 267-275. PubMed 20049891 onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/rcm.4383/abstract