Kai Zhang


Department of Biochemistry
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology
314B RAL MC 712
600 South Mathews Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61801
Office: 217-300-0582
Lab: 217-300-0582
Fax: (217) 244-5858

Mail to:
Department of Biochemistry
School of Molecular and Cellular Biology
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
419 Roger Adams Laboratory
600 South Mathews
Urbana, IL 61801
Lab Page
Curriculum Vita

Kai Zhang

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry
B.S. 2002 University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), China
Ph.D. 2008 University of California, Berkeley
Postdoc. 2009-2014 Stanford University

American Cancer Society Postdoctoral Fellowship 2013

Cell signaling in cell fate determination and in disease

The Zhang group studies how signal transduction regulates cell fate determination and how normal signaling processes are compromised in disease conditions. Using live cell imaging and optogenetic control of signal transduction, we observe and perturb signaling modules to define cellular responses. Our major goal is to gain insight into signaling mechanisms that regulate critical cellular functions such as cell proliferation, differentiation, migration, and apoptosis and to apply the insight to understanding and treating neurological disorders.

Research Areas

Representative Publications

1. V. V. Krishnamurthy, J. S. Khamo, E. Cho, C. Schornak, and K. Zhang* “Multiplex gene removal by two-step polymerase chain reactions”, Analytical Biochemistry, 2015, 481, 7-9.

2. K. Zhang* and B. Cui* “Optogenetic control of intracellular signaling pathways”, Trend in Biotechnology, 2015, 33, 92-100. (*co-corresponding authors)

3. K. Zhang, P.D. Chowdary, and B. Cui “Visualizing directional Rab7 and TrkA cotrafficking in axons by pTIRF microscopy” Methods Mol Biol., 2015, 1298:319-29.

4. P.D. Chowdary, D. Che, K. Zhang, B. Cui “Retrograde NGF axonal transport – coordination of opposite polarity motors near unidirectional motility regime” Biophysical Journal, 2015, 108, 2691-2703.

5. D. L. Che, L. Duan, K. Zhang, B. Cui, The dual characteristics of light-induced cryptochrome 2 homo-oligomerization and hetero-dimerization for optogenetic manipulation in mammalian cells, ACS Synthetic Biology, 2015, 4, 1124-1135.

6. L. Duan, D. Che, K. Zhang, Q. Ong, S. Guo, and B. Cui, Optogenetic control of molecular motors and organelle distributions in cells, Chemistry & Biology, 2015, 22, 671-682.

7. Q. Ong, S. Guo, K. Zhang, and B. Cui "U0126 Protects Cells against Oxidative Stress Independent of Its Function as a MEK Inhibitor", ACS Chem. Neurosci., 2015, 6,130–137.K. Zhang and B. Cui “Lighting up FGFR signaling”, Chemistry & Biology, 2014, 21, 806-808.

8. K. Zhang, L. Duan, Q. Ong, Z. Lin, P. Varman, K. Sung, and B. Cui. “Light-meidated kinetic control reveals the temporal effect of the Raf/Mek/ERK pathway in PC12 cell neurite outgrowth”, PLOS ONE, 2014, 9, e92917.

9. K. Zhang, R. F. B. Kenan, Y. Osakada, W. Xu, R. S. Sinit, , L. Chen, X. Zhao, J-Y. Chen, B. Cui, and C. Wu “Defective Axonal Transport of Rab7 GTPase Results in Dysregulated Trophic Signaling”, J. Neuroscience 2013, 33, 7451-7462.

10. W. J. Xie, K. Zhang, B. Cui “Functional characterization and axonal transport of quantum dot labeled BDNF”, Integrative Biology, 2012, 4, 953-960.

11. K. Zhang, Y. Osakada, W. J. Xie, and B. Cui “Automated image analysis for tracking cargo transport in axons”, Microscopy Research and Technique 2011, 74, 605-613.

12. K. A. Vossel, K. Zhang, X. Wang, G. Q. Yu, K. Ho, B. Cui, and L. Mucke “Tau reduction ameliorates A?-induced impairments in axonal transport”, Science 2010, 330 198.

13. K. Zhang, H. V. Mudrakola, L. Chen, M. Vrljic, and B. Cui “Single molecule imaging of NGF axonal transport in a microfluidic device ”, Lab Chip 2010, 10, 2566-2573.

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