Jie Zheng, Ph.D.
4145 Tupper Hall
Davis Campus

For more information, visit the Jie Zheng Laboratory website.

Molecular mechanisms of ion channel function. Using novel fluorescence techniques in the combination with electrophysiology, molecular biology, and biochemistry to better understand ion channel structure and its dynamic rearrangements the underlie channel function in cellular signal transduction.

Ion channels form the basis of electrical excitability of neurons and muscle cells. In response to specific electrical or chemical stimuli, these membrane proteins open a pathway across the cell membrane for selected ions, causing changes in membrane potential or intracellular levels of calcium. Activation of an ion channel is under extremely precise control that allows highly specialized processes, e.g., photoreceptor cells to detect the presence of a single photon. Research in my laboratory focuses on the protein structures critical for channel organization, activation, and modulation. The moving parts of the channel are labeled with fluorophores that serve as a molecular sensor for local conformational rearrangements. Recording the fluorescence emission let us directly observe channel structural changes in real time under physiological conditions. The same population of channels is simultaneously monitored with patch-clamp recordings so that we can correlate structure changes to the channel's function states. In particular, we use Fluorescence Resonance Energy Transfer (FRET) to measure atomic distances between channel structures.

2016  Ma, L., F. Yang, S. Vu, and J. Zheng (2016) Exploring functional roles of TRPV1 intracellular domains with unstructured peptide-insertion screening, Scientific Reports (in press)

2016  Kim, S., D. Barry, X.Y. Liu, S. Yin, A. Munanairi, Q.T. Meng, W. Cheng, P. Mo, L. Wan, S.B. Liu, K. Ratnayake, Z. Q. Zhao, N. Gautam, J. Zheng, W.K.A. Karunarathne, and Z. F. Chen (2016) Facilitation of TRPV4 by TRPV1 is required for itch transmission in some sensory neuron populations, Science Signaling, 9(437): ra71

2016  Yang, F., S. Vu, V. Yarov-Yarovoy, and J. Zheng (2016) Rational design and validation of a vanilloid-sensitive TRPV2 ion channel, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, E3657–E3666

2015  Simonov, A.N., J.K. Holien, J.C.I. Yeung, A.D. Nguyen, C.J. Corbin, J. Zheng, V.L. Kuznetsov, R.J. Auchus, A.J. Conley, A.M. Bond, M.W. Parker, R.J. Rodgers, L.L. Martin (2015) Mechanistic scrutiny identifies a kinetic role for cytochrome b5 regulation of human cytochrome P450c17, PLoS One, 10(11): e0141252

2015  Yang, S., F. Yang, N. Wei, J. Hong, B. Li, L. Luo, M. Rong, V. Yarov-Yarovoy, J. Zheng¶, K.W. Wang¶, R. Lai¶ (2015) A pain-inducing centipede toxin targets the heat activation machinery of nociceptor TRPV1, Nature Communication, 6:8297 (¶ corresponding authors)

2015  Lee, B.H., and J. Zheng (2015) Proton block of proton-activated TRPV1 current, Journal of General Physiology, 146(2):147-159

2015  Yang, F., X. Xiao, W. Cheng, W. Yang, P. Yu, Z. Song, V. Yarov-Yarovoy, J. Zheng (2015), Structural mechanism underlying capsaicin binding and activation of nociceptive TRPV1 ion channel, Nature Chemical Biology, 11:518–524.

  2015  Jie Zheng and Matthew C. Trudeau (editors), Handbook of Ion Channels, CRC Press.

** Review by Richard Aldrich (2015) A new standard: a review of Handbook of Ion Channels, Journal of General Physiology, 146(2):119-121a,
** Review by David R. Harder (2015) Physiologist, 58(4):205-208
** Review by Bingcai Guan, Zuan Zhou, Hailin Zhang (2015) Acta Physiologica Sinica, 67(5)

2015  Clifton, H.L., B. Inceoglu, L. Ma, J. Zheng, S. Schaefer (2015) TRPV1 Channels are Involved in Niacin-induced Cutaneous Vasodilation in Mice, Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 65(2):184-191

2015  Ma, L., B.H. Lee, H. Clifton, S. Schaefer, and Jie Zheng (2015) Nicotinic acid is a common regulator of heat-sensing TRPV1-4 ion channels, Scientific Reports, 5:8906; DOI:10.1038/srep08906

2015  Zheng, J., X. Zeng, and S. Wang (2015) Calcium as cellular messenger, Science China Life Sciences, 58(1):1-5

2014  Zheng, J. and L. Ma (2014) Structure and Function of the ThermoTRP Channel Pore, in L. D. Islas, & F. Qin (Eds.), Thermal Sensors, 233-257

2014  Tang, Y.Q., J.H. Zhou, F. Yang, J. Zheng, and K.W. Wang (2014) The tetramerization domain potentiates Kv4 channel function by suppressing closed-state inactivation, Biophysical Journal, 107: 1090-1104

2014  Yang, F., and J. Zheng (2014) High temperature sensitivity is intrinsic to voltage-gated potassium channels, eLife, e03255

2014  Ma, L., B.H. Lee, R. Mao, A. Cai, Y. Jia, H. Clifton, S. Schaefer, L. Xu, and J. Zheng (2014) Nicotinic acid activates the capsaicin receptor TRPV1 - a potential mechanism for cutaneous flushing, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 34:1273-1280 ** Editorial Highlight by Dr. Stefan Offermanns (2014) ATVB 34:1122-1123.

2014  Ma, L., F. Yang, and J. Zheng. Application of fluorescence resonance energy transfer in studies of biomolecules, Journal of Molecular Structure, 1077:87-100

2014  Yang, F., L. Ma, X. Cao, K.W. Wang, and J. Zheng. Divalent cations activate TRPV1 through promoting conformational change of the extracellular region, Journal of General Physiology, 143(1): 91-103

2014  Cao, X., F. Yang, L. Ma, K.W. Wang, and J. Zheng. Divalent cations potentiate TRPV1 channel by lowering the heat activation threshold, Journal of General Physiology, 143(1): 75-90

2013  Zheng, J. Domain-domain interactions in ion channel, Journal of General Physiology, 142(4):347-350.

2013  Lei, L., X. Cao, F. Yang, D.-J. Shi, Y.-Q. Tang, J. Zheng¶ and K.W. Wang¶. A TRPV4 Channel C-Terminal Segment Plays a Critical Role in Protein Folding and Trafficking, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 288: 10427-10439 (¶ corresponding authors)

2013  Zheng, J. and F. Yang. Patch fluorometry (version 2), in: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (ELS), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester 

2013  Zheng, J. Molecular mechanism of TRP channels, Comprehensive Physiology, 3:221-242

2012  Jin, B., H. Wulff, J. Widdicombe, J. Zheng, D. Bers, and J. Puglisi. A Simple Device to Illustrate the Einthoven Triangle, Advances in Physiology Education, 36:319-324

2012  Cheng, W., J. Liu, C. Sun, and J. Zheng. Temperature-Sensitive TRP Ion Channels as Drug Targets for Neuropathic Pain, Progress in Physiological Sciences, 43(2): 125-130

2012  Cao, X., F. Yang, J. Zheng¶, and K.W. Wang¶. Intracellular proton-mediated activation of TRPV3 channels accounts for exfoliation effect of alpha hydroxyl acids on keratinocytes, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 287(31): 25905-25916   (¶ corresponding authors)

2012  Cui, Y., F. Yang, X. Cao, V. Yarov-Yarovoy, K.W. Wang, J. Zheng. Selective disruption of high-sensitivity heat activation but not capsaicin activation of TRPV1 channels by pore turret mutations, Journal of General Physiology, 139 (4)273-283. Featured on the cover

2012  Cheng, W., F. Yang, S. Liu, C.K. Colton, C. Wang, Y. Cui, X. Cao, M.X. Zhu, C. Sun, K.W. Wang, and J. Zheng. Heteromeric Heat-Sensitive TRP Channels Exhibit Distinct Temperature and Chemical Response, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 287(10): 7279-7288

2011  Zhang, F., S. Liu, F. Yang, J. Zheng, K.W. Wang. Identification of a tetrameric assembly domain in the C-terminus of heat-activated TRPV1 channels, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 286(17):15308-15316 (corresponding authors)

2011  Ma, L., G.Y. Rychkov, E.A. Bykova, J. Zheng, and A.H. Bretag. Lateral displacement of hCLC-1 carboxyl termini during common gating and limits on their cytoplasmic location, Biochemical Journal, 436:415-428

2011  Yang, F., and J. Zheng. Fluorescence microscopy in thermoTRP channel research, in: TRP Channels, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group: Boca Raton

2011  Dong, B., W. Cheng, W. Li, D. Wu, J. Zheng, F. Matsumura, C.F.A. Vogel. FRET analysis of protein tyrosine kinase c-Src activation mediated via aryl hydrocarbon receptor, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 1810:427-451

2010  Cheng, W., C. Sun, and J. Zheng. Heteromerization of TRP channel subunits: Extending functional diversity, Protein & Cell, 1(9):802-810

2010  Yang, F., Y. Cui, K.W. Wang, and J. Zheng. Thermosensitive TRP channel outer pore is part of the temperature activation pathway, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107:7083-7088.
Highlighted in Cell (2010) 141:377 and Faculty 1000 Biology

2009  Praporski, S., S.M. Ng, A.D. Nguyen, C. Corbin, A. Mechler, J. Zheng, A. Conley, and L. Martin. Organization of enzymes involved in sex steroid synthesis: protein-protein interactions in lipid membranes, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284:33224-33232.

2009  Qiu, S., X.-M. Zhang, J.-Y. Cao, W. Yang, Y.-G. Yan, L. Shan, J. Zheng, and J.-H. Luo. An ER retention signal located in the extracellular amino-terminal domain of NR2A subunit of NMDA receptors, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284:20285-20298

2009  Qu, Z., W. Cheng, Y. Cui, Y. Cui, and J. Zheng. Human disease-causing mutations disrupt an N-C terminal interaction and channel function of bestrophin 1, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284:16473-16481.

2009  Sun, P., J. Wang, W. Gu, W. Cheng, G.-Z. Jin, E. Friedman, J. Zheng, and X. Zhen. PSD-95 regulates D1 dopamine receptor resensitization, but not receptor-mediated Gs-protein activation, Cell Research, 19:612-624.

2009  Liang, S.-S., F. Yang, C. Zhou, Y. Wang, S. Li, C.K. Sun, J.L. Puglisi, D. Bers, C. Sun, and J. Zheng. Temperature-dependent activation of neurons by continuous near-infrared laser, Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, 53(1), 33-42.

2009  Zheng, J., and K. Matulef. Cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channels, In: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (ELS), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester. 

2009  Zheng, J. FRET and its biological application as a molecular ruler, in Handbook of Modern Biophysics, Vol. 3: Biomedical Applications in Biophysics, Humana Press.

2009  Bykova, E.A. and J. Zheng. Spectra FRET, a fluorescence resonance energy transfer method in live cells, Annual Reviews in Fluorescence 2007, Chapter 4, Springer.

2008  Zheng, J. Patch fluorometry, In: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (ELS), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester.

2008  Chen, T.Y., Y.F. Lin, and J. Zheng. Electrophysiological measurements of membrane proteins, in Handbook on Biophysics, Vol. 1, Chapter 5, Humana Press.

2008  Vetter, I., W. Cheng, M. Peiris, B.D. Wyse, S.J. Roberts-Thomson, J. Zheng, G.R. Monteith, P.J. Cabot. Rapid, opioid-sensitive mechanisms involved in transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 sensitization, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 283, 19540-19550.

2007  Ying, G., S.S. Liu, S. Qiu, W. Cheng, J. Zheng, J.H. Luo. Fluorescence resonance energy transfer analysis of subunit assembly of the ASIC channel, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 359, 143-150.

2007  Cheng, W., F. Yang, C.L. Takanishi, and J. Zheng. Thermosensitive TRPV Channel Subunits Co-assemble into Heteromeric Channels with Intermediate Conductance and Gating Properties, Journal of General Physiology, 129, 191-207.  Featured on the cover.

2006  Zheng, J. Patch fluorometry: shedding new light on ion channels, Physiology, 21, 6-12.

2006  Cheng, W., and J. Zheng. Applying fluorescence resonance energy transfer (FRET) techniques in live cells studies, Trends in Neurosciences [Chinese], 4, 562-570.

2006  Zheng, J. Spectroscopy-based quantitative fluorescence resonance energy transfer analysis, Methods in Molecular Biology, 337, 65-78.

2006  Bykova, E.A., X.D. Zhang, T.Y. Chen, and J. Zheng. Large movement in the C terminus of CLC-0 chloride channel during slow gating, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, 13, 1115-1119.

2006  Takanishi, C.L., E.A. Bykova, W. Cheng, and J. Zheng. Quantification of GFP-based FRET in live cells, Brain Research, 1091(1), 132-139.

2004  Zheng, J. and W.N. Zagotta. Stoichiometry and assembly of olfactory cyclic nucleotide-gated channels, Neuron, 42, 411-421.

  • The Grass Foundation Traveling Scientist Award. 2009
  • MCP210A, Advanced Physiology, Co-Instructor of Record
  • MCP210L, Lab Rotation, Co-Instructor of Record
  • PTX202, Principles of Pharmacology: Cellular and Molecular Basis of Drug Action
  • HPH400, Medical Human Physiology
  • MCP216, Neurophysiology
  • MCP209, Seminar on Frontiers in Neurobiology
  • HPH199, Special Study
  • HPH299, Research
  • MCP-BPH241, Membrane Biology
  • BPH200B, Techniques in Biophysics
  • American Heart Association
  • National Institute of Health
  • Health System Research Award