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Xiuren Zhang

Zhang, Xiuren
Xiuren Zhang
BOR / Room 112B
Graduate Education
M.S. Auburn University (1999)
Ph.D Cornell University (2003)
Postdoc: Rockefeller University (2003-2008)
Joined Texas A&M in 2008
NSF CAREER Award 2013

AGOs-mics / RNA silencing and viral suppression

RNA silencing has emerged as a key regulatory process that controls various aspects of biology in eukaryotes including growth and development, antiviral defense and chromosome gardening. The common themes under RNA silencing include the biogenesis of small RNAs by DICERs and the incorporation of the small RNAs into Argonaute (AGO)-centered RNA-induced silencing complexes (RISCs). The RISCs execute the repressive or regulatory functions on target genes at the transcriptional or post-transcriptional levels.

Our laboratory focuses on systemic analysis of biochemical, molecular and biological functions of AGO family proteins (AGOs-mics) in genetically tractable Arabidopsis and economically important crops (i.e. rice). We’d like to identify the small RNAs, mRNA targets and protein components which associate with these AGOs. We will study protein/RNA and protein/protein interactions in these RISC assembly events. Our goal is to understand how these AGOs are functionally specialized or redundant corresponding to endogenous development cues and external environmental stimuli. Particularly, we’d like to learn how plants reprogram their gene expression through the small RNAs and AGOs to construct a new cellular niche in responses to environmental challenges and biotic stresses.

Another aspect of our research involves host/virus interaction. Plants take advantage of RNA silencing pathways to defend themselves from exogenous nucleic acid invaders (i.e. viruses). As an anti-host defense mechanism, viruses encode suppressors that can block RNA silencing responses. We have recently demonstrated that CMV 2b disables AGO1 cleavage activity to inhibit RNA silencing and to counter host defense. We are now extending our study to suppressors of several other viruses and the molecular mechanisms of their suppression.

Recent Publications

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  1. Müller, K, Foerstendorf, H, Steudtner, R, Tsushima, S, Kumke, MU, Lefèvre, G et al.. Interdisciplinary Round-Robin Test on Molecular Spectroscopy of the U(VI) Acetate System. ACS Omega. 2019;4 (5):8167-8177.
    doi: 10.1021/acsomega.9b00164. PubMed PMID:31459906. PubMed Central PMC6648335.

  2. Gurumurthy, CB, O'Brien, AR, Quadros, RM, Adams, J Jr, Alcaide, P, Ayabe, S et al.. Reproducibility of CRISPR-Cas9 methods for generation of conditional mouse alleles: a multi-center evaluation. Genome Biol. 2019;20 (1):171.
    doi: 10.1186/s13059-019-1776-2. PubMed PMID:31446895. PubMed Central PMC6709553.

  3. Heo, GS, Zhao, Y, Sultan, D, Zhang, X, Detering, L, Luehmann, HP et al.. Assessment of Copper Nanoclusters for Accurate in Vivo Tumor Imaging and Potential for Translation. ACS Appl Mater Interfaces. 2019;11 (22):19669-19678.
    doi: 10.1021/acsami.8b22752. PubMed PMID:31074257. .

  4. Hu, T, Huang, C, He, Y, Castillo-González, C, Gui, X, Wang, Y et al.. βC1 protein encoded in geminivirus satellite concertedly targets MKK2 and MPK4 to counter host defense. PLoS Pathog. 2019;15 (4):e1007728.
    doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1007728. PubMed PMID:30998777. PubMed Central PMC6499421.

  5. Zhang, X, Yuan, J, Sun, Y, Li, S, Gao, Y, Yu, Y et al.. Penaeid shrimp genome provides insights into benthic adaptation and frequent molting. Nat Commun. 2019;10 (1):356.
    doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-08197-4. PubMed PMID:30664654. PubMed Central PMC6341167.

  6. Wang, Z, Wang, M, Wang, T, Zhang, Y, Zhang, X. Genome-wide probing RNA structure with the modified DMS-MaPseq in Arabidopsis. Methods. 2019;155 :30-40.
    doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2018.11.018. PubMed PMID:30503825. .

  7. Njaci, I, Williams, B, Castillo-González, C, Dickman, MB, Zhang, X, Mundree, S et al.. Genome-Wide Investigation of the Role of MicroRNAs in Desiccation Tolerance in the Resurrection Grass Tripogon loliiformis. Plants (Basel). 2018;7 (3):.
    doi: 10.3390/plants7030068. PubMed PMID:30200279. PubMed Central PMC6161015.

  8. Castillo-González, C, Zhang, X. The Trojan Horse of the Plant Kingdom. Cell Host Microbe. 2018;24 (1):1-3.
    doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2018.06.015. PubMed PMID:30001514. .

  9. Ma, Z, Castillo-González, C, Wang, Z, Sun, D, Hu, X, Shen, X et al.. Arabidopsis Serrate Coordinates Histone Methyltransferases ATXR5/6 and RNA Processing Factor RDR6 to Regulate Transposon Expression. Dev. Cell. 2018;45 (6):769-784.e6.
    doi: 10.1016/j.devcel.2018.05.023. PubMed PMID:29920280. .

  10. Ma, Z, Zhang, X. Actions of plant Argonautes: predictable or unpredictable? Curr. Opin. Plant Biol. 2018;45 (Pt A):59-67.
    doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2018.05.007. PubMed PMID:29857309. .

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