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Minglei Zhao

TitleAssociate Professor
InstitutionUniversity of Chicago
DepartmentBiochemistry and Molecular Biology
AddressChicago IL 60637
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    As a structural biology lab, we are interested in understanding the mechanism of molecular machines and their roles in human diseases. Currently we focus on two systems, p97 / ubiquitination system, and vault. p97 is a central hub in cellular protein homeostasis. It is involved in several neurodegenerative diseases, and is also a cancer drug target. We want to gain insights into the molecular architectures of p97 in complex with various cofactor proteins and poly-ubiquitinated substrates. We are investigating the specificity of p97 towards ubiquitin chains with various topologies. Our findings will elucidate the molecular mechanism of human p97. Vault is the largest ribonuclear protein in many eukaryotes including human. It is a membraneless organelle. Despite the fact that vault has been studied for thirty years, its function remains elusive. Overexpression of major vault protein (MVP) correlates with drug resistance in cancer cells. However, the mechanism is completely unknown at the molecular level. We are investigating the structures of vault components and using proteomic and imaging techniques to address the molecular function of vault. There are two major techniques used in the lab: X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy.
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    Collapse Biography 
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    Stanford University and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, California, USA12/2016Biophysics and Structural Biology
    University of California Los Angeles, California, USAPh.D.12/2011Molecular Biology
    Fudan University, Shanghai, ChinaB.S.06/2005Biological Sciences

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    Collapse selected publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
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    PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. Wu T, Liu C, Zou S, Lyu R, Yang B, Yan H, Zhao M, Tang W. Author Correction: An engineered hypercompact CRISPR-Cas12f system with boosted gene-editing activity. Nat Chem Biol. 2024 Jan; 20(1):129. PMID: 38040979.
      Citations:    Fields:    
    2. Wu T, Liu C, Zou S, Lyu R, Yang B, Yan H, Zhao M, Tang W. An engineered hypercompact CRISPR-Cas12f system with boosted gene-editing activity. Nat Chem Biol. 2023 Nov; 19(11):1384-1393. PMID: 37400536; PMCID: PMC10625714.
      Citations: 4     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimals
    3. Xie Y, Zhao M. CAND1 orchestrates CRLs through rock and roll. Cell. 2023 04 27; 186(9):1817-1818. PMID: 37116466.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:Cells
    4. Kuppannan A, Jiang YY, Maier W, Liu C, Lang CF, Cheng CY, Field MC, Zhao M, Zoltner M, Turkewitz AP. A novel membrane complex is required for docking and regulated exocytosis of lysosome-related organelles in Tetrahymena thermophila. PLoS Genet. 2022 05; 18(5):e1010194. PMID: 35587496; PMCID: PMC9159632.
      Citations: 1     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    5. Liang WG, Wijaya J, Wei H, Noble AJ, Mancl JM, Mo S, Lee D, Lin King JV, Pan M, Liu C, Koehler CM, Zhao M, Potter CS, Carragher B, Li S, Tang WJ. Structural basis for the mechanisms of human presequence protease conformational switch and substrate recognition. Nat Commun. 2022 04 05; 13(1):1833. PMID: 35383169; PMCID: PMC8983764.
      Citations: 1     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    6. Pan M, Zheng Q, Wang T, Liang L, Mao J, Zuo C, Ding R, Ai H, Xie Y, Si D, Yu Y, Liu L, Zhao M. Structural insights into Ubr1-mediated N-degron polyubiquitination. Nature. 2021 12; 600(7888):334-338. PMID: 34789879; PMCID: PMC8798225.
      Citations: 26     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    7. Pan M, Yu Y, Ai H, Zheng Q, Xie Y, Liu L, Zhao M. Mechanistic insight into substrate processing and allosteric inhibition of human p97. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2021 07; 28(7):614-625. PMID: 34262183.
      Citations: 33     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    8. Yu Y, Zheng Q, Erramilli SK, Pan M, Park S, Xie Y, Li J, Fei J, Kossiakoff AA, Liu L, Zhao M. K29-linked ubiquitin signaling regulates proteotoxic stress response and cell cycle. Nat Chem Biol. 2021 08; 17(8):896-905. PMID: 34239127; PMCID: PMC8717942.
      Citations: 23     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    9. Pan M, Zheng Q, Yu Y, Ai H, Xie Y, Zeng X, Wang C, Liu L, Zhao M. Seesaw conformations of Npl4 in the human p97 complex and the inhibitory mechanism of a disulfiram derivative. Nat Commun. 2021 01 05; 12(1):121. PMID: 33402676; PMCID: PMC7785736.
      Citations: 24     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    10. Liang WG, Mancl JM, Zhao M, Tang WJ. Structural analysis of Mycobacterium tuberculosis M13 metalloprotease Zmp1 open states. Structure. 2021 07 01; 29(7):709-720.e3. PMID: 33378640; PMCID: PMC8691456.
      Citations: 3     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    11. Li J, Xie Y, Cornelius S, Jiang X, Sando R, Kordon SP, Pan M, Leon K, Zhao M, Südhof TC, Araç D. Alternative splicing controls teneurin-latrophilin interaction and synapse specificity by a shape-shifting mechanism. Nat Commun. 2020 05 01; 11(1):2140. PMID: 32358586; PMCID: PMC7195488.
      Citations: 24     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    12. Leon K, Cunningham RL, Riback JA, Feldman E, Li J, Sosnick TR, Zhao M, Monk KR, Araç D. Structural basis for adhesion G protein-coupled receptor Gpr126 function. Nat Commun. 2020 01 10; 11(1):194. PMID: 31924782; PMCID: PMC6954182.
      Citations: 20     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    13. White KI, Zhao M, Choi UB, Pfuetzner RA, Brunger AT. Structural principles of SNARE complex recognition by the AAA+ protein NSF. Elife. 2018 09 10; 7. PMID: 30198481; PMCID: PMC6160233.
      Citations: 46     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    14. Wang B, Lee J, Li P, Saberi A, Yang H, Liu C, Zhao M, Newmark PA. Stem cell heterogeneity drives the parasitic life cycle of Schistosoma mansoni. Elife. 2018 07 10; 7. PMID: 29988015; PMCID: PMC6039179.
      Citations: 38     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    15. Choi UB, Zhao M, White KI, Pfuetzner RA, Esquivies L, Zhou Q, Brunger AT. NSF-mediated disassembly of on- and off-pathway SNARE complexes and inhibition by complexin. Elife. 2018 07 09; 7. PMID: 29985126; PMCID: PMC6130971.
      Citations: 23     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    16. Luo F, Gui X, Zhou H, Gu J, Li Y, Liu X, Zhao M, Li D, Li X, Liu C. Atomic structures of FUS LC domain segments reveal bases for reversible amyloid fibril formation. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2018 04; 25(4):341-346. PMID: 29610493.
      Citations: 81     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    17. Zhou Q, Zhou P, Wang AL, Wu D, Zhao M, Brunger AT, Südhof TC. The primed SNARE-complexin-synaptotagmin complex for neuronal exocytosis. Nature. 2017 08 24; 548(7668):420-425. PMID: 28813412; PMCID: PMC5757840.
      Citations: 139     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    18. Lai Y, Choi UB, Leitz J, Zhao M, Pfuetzner RA, Wang AL, Brunger AT, Rhee HJ, Lee C, Altas B, Brose N, Rhee J. Molecular Mechanisms of Synaptic Vesicle Priming by Munc13 and Munc18. Neuron. 2017 Aug 02; 95(3):591-607.e10. PMID: 28772123; PMCID: PMC5747255.
      Citations: 126     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    19. Lyubimov AY, Uervirojnangkoorn M, Zeldin OB, Zhou Q, Zhao M, Brewster AS, Michels-Clark T, Holton JM, Sauter NK, Weis WI, Brunger AT. Advances in X-ray free electron laser (XFEL) diffraction data processing applied to the crystal structure of the synaptotagmin-1 / SNARE complex. Elife. 2016 10 12; 5. PMID: 27731796; PMCID: PMC5094853.
      Citations: 17     Fields:    Translation:Cells
    20. Lai Y, Choi UB, Zhang Y, Zhao M, Pfuetzner RA, Wang AL, Diao J, Brunger AT. N-terminal domain of complexin independently activates calcium-triggered fusion. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 08 09; 113(32):E4698-707. PMID: 27444020; PMCID: PMC4987820.
      Citations: 31     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    21. Choi UB, Zhao M, Zhang Y, Lai Y, Brunger AT. Complexin induces a conformational change at the membrane-proximal C-terminal end of the SNARE complex. Elife. 2016 06 02; 5. PMID: 27253060; PMCID: PMC4927292.
      Citations: 28     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    22. Zhao M, Brunger AT. Recent Advances in Deciphering the Structure and Molecular Mechanism of the AAA+ ATPase N-Ethylmaleimide-Sensitive Factor (NSF). J Mol Biol. 2016 05 08; 428(9 Pt B):1912-26. PMID: 26546278; PMCID: PMC4854814.
      Citations: 34     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
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