Courtney Andersen studies the role of estrogen receptor-alpha in ovarian cancer.
Chris Barnes investigates the structural details by which transcription factor activity regulates RNA Polymerase II during the universal process of eukaryotic gene expression.
Soma Jobaggy studies nitrated fatty acid pharmacology and the antioxidant response in hypertensive end-organ damage.
Allison Nagle studies growth factor receptor signaling in breast cancer.
Cheng Zhang, PhD
Assistant Professor
E1358 Thomas E. Starzl Biomedical Science Tower, 200 Lothrop Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15261

Email:
chengzh@pitt.edu
Phone: 412-383-8044

Fax: 412-648-1945


Education

B.S. (Biology), University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, P.R. China, 2003

Ph.D. (Biochemistry and Molecular Biology), University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei, P.R. China, 2008



Research Areas
Structural Pharmacology
Receptor Pharmacology
Signal Transduction
Photo of Cheng Zhang, PhD

My group focuses on the study of model G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) to elucidate the molecular mechanisms of receptor signaling and to advance our understanding of their pharmacology. GPCRs are a family of cell surface receptors with over 700 members. They transduce signals from extracellular signaling molecules, including hormones and neurotransmitters, to intracellular effectors in order to mediate and regulate a broad spectrum of physiological and pathological processes. GPCRs have been heavily investigated in the pharmaceutical industry, and they constitute 30-40% of current drug targets. Yet the mechanistic details of GPCR signal transduction across the cell membrane are largely poorly understood, in part due to the extraordinary complexity of receptor conformational states associated with different ligands. My lab is trying to explore the molecular mechanisms underlying the signal transduction of certain GPCRs through multiple approaches in structural biology, biophysics, pharmacology and cell biology.
 
Currently we focus on two groups of GPCRs, the lipid GPCRs involved in asthma and the neurotransmitter GPCRs involved in neurological disorders. Short-term research goals include obtaining atomic structures of these GPCRs in complex with various ligands and signaling partners. The structural information guides our pharmacological and cell-based studies to dissect the novel mechanisms underlying drug action and receptor signaling. In addition, we also perform structure-based drug design studies to develop novel GPCR ligands and develop new GPCR antibodies for drug development.
 
Link to our publications: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/sites/myncbi/cheng.zhang.1/bibliography/48303720/public/?sort=date&direction= descending
 





Important Publications
Masureel M, Zou Y, Picard L-P, van der Westhuizen E, Mahoney JP, Rodrigues JPGLM, Mildorf TJ, Dror RO, Shaw DE, Bouvier M, Pardon E, Steyaert J, Sunahara RK, Weis WI, Zhang C and Kobilka BK.  Structural insights into binding specificity, efficacy and bias of a ß2AR partial agonist.  Nature Chemical Biology 14:1059-1066, 2018.
Wang L, D Yao, RNVK Deepak, H Liu, Q Xiao, H Fan, W Gong, Z Wei and C Zhang. Structures of the Human PGD2 Receptor CRTH2 Reveal Novel Mechanisms for Ligand Recognition. Molecular Cell 72:48-59 e4, 2018.
 
Liu H, HR Kim, RNVK Deepak, L  Wang, KY Chung, H Fan, Z Wei and C Zhang. Orthosteric and allosteric action of the C5a receptor antagonists. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 25:472-481, 2018.
Weichert D, AC Kruse, A Manglik, C Hiller, C Zhang, H Hübner, BK Kobilka and P Gmeiner.  Covalent agonists for studying G protein-coupled receptor activation.  PNAS 111:10744,10748, 2014.
Zocher M, C Bippes, C Zhang and DJ Muller.  Single-molecule force spectroscopy of G-protein-coupled receptors.  Chem Soc REv 42:7801-7815, 2013.
Zhang C, Y Srinivasan, DH Arlow, JJ Fung, D Palmer, Y Zhang, HF Green, A Pandey, RO Dror, DE Shaw, WI Weis, SR Coughlin and BK Kobilka.  High-resolution crystal structure of human protease-activated receptor 1.  Nature 492:387-392, 2012.
Zocher M, C Zhang, SGF Rasmussen, BK Kobilka and DJ Muller.  Cholesterol increases kinetic, energetic, and mechanical stability of the human ß2 adrenergic receptor.  PNAS 109:E3463-E3472, 2012.
Rosenbaum DM, C Zhang, J Lyons, R Holl, D Aragao, DH Arlow, SGF Rasmussen, H Choi, BT DeVee, RK Sunahara, PS Chae, SH Gellman, RO Dror, DE Shaw, WI Weis, M Caffrey, P Gmeiner and BK Kobilka.  Structure and function of an irreversible agonist-ß2 adrenoceptor complex.  Nature 469:236-240, 2011.
Zhang C, L Liu, H Xu, Z Wei, Y Wang, Y Lin and W Gong.  Crystal structures of human IPP isomerase:  New insights into the catalytic mechanism.  J Mol Biol 366:1437-1446, 2007.

STUDENT NEWS


UPCOMING EVENTS
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Program Achievements

Molecular Pharmacology Graduate Program Ranked #2 in National Research Council Rankings

Outcomes:  Time to disseration, last five graduating classes:  4.5 years, Completion Rate: 84.8%

Ranked #9 in National of Institute of Health funding of departments of Pharmacology

Ranked in the top 15 in funding for twenty four consecutive years




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