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The ZHOU Lab @ Texas A&M University pioneers chemical and synthetic biology approaches to address challenges in health and disease. We work at the interfaces of medicine, biology and chemistry, with interests in synthetic immunology, optogeneticscalcium channels, chemical biologyand epigenetics research. 


We are fascinated about how ions travel across cellular membrane, how signals are sensed and transmitted across biological membranes, how the epigenetic landscape is sculptured, how therapeutic cells and biologics can be engineered to achieve tailored function, and how dysregulated ion homeostasis and epigenetic modifications cause human disorders. 


To translate the fundamental knowledge learned from mechanistic studies into biomedical applications, we are also developing innovative theranostic devices, photopharmacological agents, smart biologics, and intelligent cell-based therapies to intervene in cancer, immunoinflammatory disorders, metabolic syndrome, and neurodegenerative diseases. 



Research Areas



Calcium Channels in Health & Disease


Non-Opsin Optogenetics & Chemogenetics


Synthetic Immunology & Immunotherapy


Research
Areas

CRAC channel (ORAI-STIM signaling)

NSMB 2010 (PMID: 20037597)

PNAS 2010 (PMID: 20194792)

NSMB 2013 (PMID: 23851458)

Nat Commun 2015 (PMID: 26184105)

Nat Commun 2018 (PMID: 30382093)

PLOS Biol 2018 (PMID: 30444880)

Cell Chem Biol 2018 (PMID: 30639261)

Nat Commun 2021 (PMID: 33431868)


Organellar membrane contact sites (MCS) 

Nat Cell Biol 2015 (PMID: 26322679)

Nat Cell Biol 2015 (PMID: 26419802)

PNAS 2015 (PMID: 26644574)

Chem Sci 2017 (PMID: 28959426)

Nat Commun 2020 (PMID: 32098964)


Research
Area

Synthetic Immunology, Chemo/Optogenetics

eLife 2015 (PMID: 26646180)

ACS Nano 2016 (PMID: 27077481)

Trends in Biotech 2017 (PMID: 27692897)

Angew Chem 2018 (PMID: 29569306)

Chem Sci 2018 (PMID: 30061986)

Nat Commun 2018 (PMID: 30382093)

JACS 2019 (PMID: 31450884)

Nat Commun 2020 (PMID: 32098964)

JACS 2020 (PMID: 32330031)

Adv Sci 2020 (PMID: 33552855)

Adv Sci 2021 (PMID: 34540558)

Nat Chem Biol 2021 (PMID: 33958793)

Nat Nano 2021 (PMID: 34697491)


Epigenetics, E3 ligases & Cancer  
Nat Cell Biol 2016 (PMID: 26751287)
Nat Cell Biol 2017 (PMID: 28218907 )
JACS 2017 (PMID: 28294608)
JCI 2017 (PMID: 28691982)
Nat Commun 2017 (PMID: 28695892)
Mol Cell 2018 (PMID: 30220516)
PLOS Biol 2018 (PMID: 30408026)
Nat Commun 2019 (PMID: 31541101)
Nat Commun 2020 (PMID: 32029739)
Sci Adv 2020 (PMID: 33067228)
Cancer Research 2021 (PMID: 33589517)
Cancer Discovery 2021 (PMID: 34429321)
Cancer Cell 2021 (PMID: 34678153)


Molecular tools from Zhou Lab


(available at Addgene or Kerafast or upon request)

Tools             Applications


Opto-CRAC:  Genetically-encoded Ca channel actuators


optoRGK:      Optical inhibition of CaV channel    


OptoPB:        Protein-phospholipid interaction


LiMETER:      Membrane contact sites assembly


cpRAPID:      Chemically-inducible dimerization system


Chessbody:   Drug-switchable split nanobodies


CaRROT:        Light or chemical inducible CRISPRa


MoTags:        Real-time protein assembly in live cells 


CiDER:          Epigemoe remodeling (5hmC production)


piCRAC:        Photoswitchable CRAC channel inhibitors


COSMO:        Caffeine-controllable synthetic module


LOCa:            Light-operated calcium channel


Photo-SMOCs:  Optical control of innate immunity


YZ129:          Potent HSP90-NFAT inhibitors 


Pharmabody: Drug switchable antibody mimetics 


optoSTING:   Optical control of STING activation          

Tools             Applications


Moonbody:      Monobody with light OFF-switches


Sunbody:          Photoactivatable nanobody

 

cpLOV2:            Modular domain for optoengineering


LiPOP:             Optical control immunogenic cell death


NanoLOGS:     Wireless optogenetics with NanoLuc 


LiCAR-T:          Light-switchable CAR-T cell therapy


pNUTs:             Photoinducible nucleolar targeting tools 


ChemoDeAct:  Actin cytoskeleton manipulation


SAMBA:           SA-mediated biomolecular association


Synphobody:   Synthetic photo-switchable intrabody


pClipper:         photon-controlled cleavable polypeptide linker


optoMT:          Optical cytoskeleton labeling and tracking


LiPAD:             Protein assembly & disassembly devices


LiSODA:           Light-dependent organelle control    


cAMPER:          cAMP-responsive engineered receptors


LiCAB:              Light-switchable calcium channel blocker



Research Sponsors


Cancer Preventions & Research Institute of Texas

Texas A&M University | American Cancer Society | John S. Dunn Foundation

National Institutes of Health | Robert A. Welch Foundation | Leukemia & Lymphoma Society