Zhixin (Jason) Zhang, PhD

University of Nebraska, Omaha, NE (previously at the University of Alabama in Birmingham)

2005 Environmental Triggers, Human Lupus Biology

Zhixin (Jason) Zhang, PhDWith LRI funding, Dr. Zhang was able to investigate his theory that in lupus, a normally beneficial process that alters antibody genes—a phenomenon known as “receptor editing”—goes into overdrive, causing B cells to make self-reactive antibodies (autoantibodies).

And in fact, the data he has generated so far show that in people with lupus, 30 to 60 percent of antibodies have undergone this receptor editing, compared with only 5 percent in healthy people.

To carry out this novel research, Dr. Zhang used a micromanipulation technique to obtain single cells from human tissue, tracing the involvement of VH gene replacement products in germinal center reactions.

As a result of his LRI-funded discoveries, Dr. Zhang now has two NIH grants totalling $2.9 million to further pursue this research and explore its potential for identifying an early marker for lupus diagnoses and organ involvement. He’ll also look at whether chronic viral or bacterial infections may actually trigger lupus.

Dr. Zhang’s grant proposal was so strong that the NIH ranked it NUMBER ONE out of 500 applications for funding.

“With the help of the LRI grant, we are continuously working on several projects related with lupus. One is the contribution of VH replacement in the generation of autoantibodies in lupus (funded by an NIH R01 grant) and the other is to explore the antoantibody profile in lupus.” – Dr. Zhang, 2010

Select publications:

Role of endonuclease G in neuronal excitotoxicity in mice. Wu Y, Dong M, Toepfer NJ, Fan Y, Xu M, Zhang J. Neurosci Lett. 2004 Jul 8;364(3):203-7.

Endonuclease G is required for early embryogenesis and normal apoptosis in mice. Zhang J, Dong M, Li L, Fan Y, Pathre P, Dong J, Lou D, Wells JM, Olivares-Villagomez D, Van Kaer L, Wang X, Xu M. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Dec 23;100(26):15782-7. Epub 2003 Dec 8.

Ongoing funding:

Dr. Zhang was awarded two NIH grants totalling $2.9 million to further pursue his LRI-funded work.

In addition, Dr. Zhang and LRI researcher Martin Weigert, PhD, and Chander Raman, PhD, has won a $600,000 (divided among the three) from the Dana Foundation to continue on work initiated by collaboration begun through their LRI work.

Rev. July 2010