Zhao Zhang
Zhao Zhang
Staff Associate
Lab Contacts:
Office (410) 246-3092
Lab (410) 246-3091
Fax (410) 243-6311
Lab Members: 
Kun Dou, P/D Fellow
Leon Lin, Technician
Ruth Martin, Poly/Ingenuity student
Sungjin Moon, P/D Associate
Lu Wang, P/D Associate

A postdoctoral position is available to study in this laboratory.
Please contact Dr. Zhang for additional details.

We are a group of adventurers, naĆ®ve enough to fearlessly search mother nature's uncharted frontiers. We learn from each other and share the excitement and rewards of discovering both possible and impossible answers to unknown questions.  
1. Transposon control in germline and soma, physiological and disease conditions.
Transposons occupy around 50% of the human genome. Mobilization of these genomic parasites can cause genome instability and insertional mutations linked to inherited disease and cancer progression. Therefore, it is crucial to tame transposons in order to maintain the genome stability and integrity. Our lab seeks to understand how these parasites are tightly controlled in both germline and somatic tissues. Specifically, in gonads, we are trying to understand how a class of germline specific small RNAs, called piRNAs, are made and how they silence transposons. Meanwhile, we are developing tools to pin down transposon activity in every cell type of each tissue, under both physiological and disease conditions.
2. Suppression of germline fate in the soma.
The mechanisms that distinguish germline and somatic cells are critical for animal development, reproduction, and evolution. Most studies of this topic have focused on the factors that control the formation and maintenance of germ cells. By contrast, our lab strives to investigate 1) how germline genes are silenced in the somatic cells and 2) what are the consequences of failure to suppress germline fate in the soma.
Yu B, Cassani M, Wang M, Liu M, Ma J, Li G, Zhang Z*, Huang Y*. Structural insights into Rhino-mediated germline piRNA cluster formation. Cell Research. 2015 25:525-528 (*Co-corresponding authors, PMCID:PMC4387552)    
Zhang Z, Wang J, Schultz N, Zhang F, Parhad SP, Tu S, Vreven T, Zamore PD, Weng Z, Theurkauf WE. Rhi anchors a nuclear complex that suppresses piRNA precursor splicing. Cell. 2014 157: 1353-1363. (PMCID:PMC4167631).
Zhang Z, Xu J, Koppetsch, BS, Wang J, Tipping C, Ma S, Weng Z, Theurkauf WE, Zamore PD. Heterotypic piRNA Ping-Pong requires Qin, a protein with both E3-ligase and Tudor domains. Molecular Cell. 2011 18;44(4):572-84 (Featured article, PMCID: PMC3236501).