Yubin Zhou

Yubin Zhou

Assistant Professor

Center for Translational Cancer Research
2121 W. Holcombe Blvd.
Houston, TX   77030

Phone: 713-677-7483
Fax: 713-677-7779

Education and Training


Bachelor of Medicine (M.D. Equivalent), Zhejiang University School of Medicine, 2003

M.S. Chemistry, Georgia State University, 2007

Ph.D. Biochemistry, Georgia State University, 2008

Postdoctoral Training

Research Fellow, Immune Disease Institute, Harvard Medical School 2008-2010

Instructor, La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology, 2010-2012

Research Interests

The Zhou Lab is exploring the fascinating frontiers of calcium signaling, optogenetics, genome engineering and molecular therapy research by combining biophysics, immunology, protein design, chemical biology, drug screening, computational biology and mouse genetics. We are particularly interested in understanding how calcium ions are transported across cellular membrane, how ion channels and human (epi)genome in cells of the immune system can be engineered to achieve tailored function, and how dysregulated ion homeostasis and DNA modifications lead to human diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular and immune disorders.

The very recent identification of novel proteins responsible for calcium entry across the plasma membrane and mitochondria heralds the opening of a Pandora’s box in the quest of new and unexpected mechanisms underlying calcium and its downstream signaling pathways. Research interests in my laboratory will be directed towards understanding the molecular and structural basis of novel calcium channels.
Drug candidates that specifically target the highly calcium-selective CRAC channels have the potential to suppress immune function selectively and may lack the toxicity of current immunosuppressive agents, such as cyclosporine A and FK506. High-throughput screening for small molecule inhibitors, as well as novel protein regulators, of calcium channels will be performed. We will examine the therapeutic values of specific small molecule inhibitors of novel calcium channels in the treatment of autoimmune diseases and reduction of tumor metastasis.
In parallel, by integrating knowledge learned from these important targets and combining chemical biology and protein engineering approaches, we will devise light-switchable optical tools for non-invasive control of calcium signaling at high spatial-temporal resolution. These tools will be applied to interrogate calcium signaling in mammalian cells and mouse models at precise locations and time, thus helping to elucidate pathogenic mechanisms of tumorigenesis, autoimmune and inflammatory disorders. Similar strategies can be extended to photo-manipulate other important signaling pathways when opportunities emerge.
Finally, We will explore translational research by generating patient-specific, induced pluripotent stem cells to study cardiovascular and neurological ion channelopathies.  Knowledge gained from these studies is likely to facilitate the discovery of improved or new immunomodulating and neuromodulating therapies.

Recent Publications


Liu A, Li C, Xing Z, Hu Q, Liang K, Han L, Wang C, Hawke DH, Wang S, Zhang Y, Wei Y, Ma G, Park PK, Zhou J, Hu Z, Zhou Y, Mark JR, Liang H, Hung MC, Lin C, and Yang L.  The LINK-A lncRNA activates normoxic HIF1a signaling in triple-negative breast cancer. Nature Cell Biology. 2016 (PMID: 26751287)

Ma Z, Lin Y, Cheng Y, Wu W, Cai R, Shen S, Shi B, Han B, Shi X, Zhou Y, Du L and Li M. Discovery of the first environment-sensitive near-infrared (NIR) fluorogenic ligand for a1-adrnergic receptor imaging in vivo. Journal of Medicinal Chemistry. 2016 In press (PMID: 26821136)

Jing Z, Sui X, Yao J, Xie J, Jiang L, Zhou Y, Pan H and Han W. SKF-96365 activates cytoprotective autophagy to delay apoptosis in colorectal cancer cells through inhibition of the calcium/CaMKIIy/AKT-mediated pathway. Cancer Letters. 2016 In press (PMID: 26803657)

Liu Z, Jiang T, Wang B, Ke B, Zhou Y, Du L and Li M. Environment-sensitive fluorescent probe for the human Ether-a-go-go-related gene (hERG) potassium channel. Analytical Chemistry. 2016 Epub ahead of print. (PMID: 26370746)

Zhang H, Bai H, Jiang T, Ma Z, Chen Y, Zhou Y, Du L and Li M. Quenching the firefly luciferase by various ions. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences. 2016 Epub ahead of print. (doi: 10.1039/C5PP00432B)


He L*, Zhang Y*, Ma G*, Tan P*, Li Z, Zang S, Wu X, Jing J, Fang S, Zhou L, Wang Y, Huang Y, Hogan P, Han G and Zhou Y. Near-infrared photoactivatable control of Ca2+ signaling and optogenetic immunomodulation. eLife. 2015,pi:e10024 (*equal contribution; doi: 10.7554/elife.10024; PMID: 26646180)

>>Media Coverage

>ScienceDaily & Vital Record: "Harness the power of light to fight cancer"

>The Battalion: "Researchers develop new cancer treatment"

>Optics & Photonics News: "Light-activated immune response"

>News Medical: "Researchers explore ways to use light to combat cancer"

>LabRoots: "Activating dendritic cells by optogenetic immunomodulation technology"

>ALN Magazine: "New technique involving light fights cancer in mice"

>Biophotonics: "Optogenetic immunomodulation reduces cancer tumor size, metastasis in animal model"

>Immuno-Oncology News: "Researchers using new technology to activate immune response in cancer treatment"

>Australia Network News: "Using light to fight cancer"

Quintana A, Rajanikanth V, Farber-Katz S, Gudlur A, Chen Z, Jing J, Zhou Y, Rao A and Hogan PG. TMEM110 regulates the maintenance and remodelling of mammalian ER-plasma membrane junctions competent for STIM-ORAI signalling. PNAS. 2015,112(51):E7083-92. (doi: 10.1073/pnas.1521924112; PMID: 26644574)

>EurekaAlert!@AAAS: "Matchmaker lets calcium flow"

Jing J*, He L*, Sun A*, Quintana A*, Ding Y*, Ma G, Tan P, Liang X, Zheng X, Chen L, Shi X, Zhang SL, Zhong L, Huang Y, Dong MQ, Walker CL, Hogan PG, Wang Y, Zhou Y. Proteomic mapping of ER-PM junctions identifies STIMATE as a regulator of Ca2+ influx. Nature Cell Biology. 2015,17:1339-47. DOI: 10.1038/ncb3234. (PMID: 26322679)

>Reported a novel optogenetic tool for optical control of ER-PM junctions: LiMETER

>Related Protocols are available at: Protocol Exchange (2015) doi:10.1038/protex.2015.072

>Featured as "News & Views" by Nature Cell Biology: "STIMATE reveals a STIM1 transitional state"

Ma G*, Wei M*, He L*, Liu C*, Wu B, Zhang SL, Jing J, Liang X, Senes A, Tan P, Li S, Sun A, Bi Y, Zhong L, Si H, Shen Y, Li M, Lee MS, Zhou W, Wang J, Wang Y, Zhou Y. Inside-out Ca2+ signaling prompted by STIM1 conformational switch. Nature Communications. 2015,6:7826. DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8826. (PMID: 26184105) *Equal contribution

Xie J, Pan H, Zhou Y# and Han W#. SOCE and cancer: recent progress and new perspectives. International Journal of Cancer. 2015. DOI: 10.1002/ijc29840. (#: corresponding authors)

Liu Z, Zhou Y, Du L, and Li M. Novel Intramolecular Photoinduced Electron Transfer-Based Probe for the Human Ether-a-go-go-Related Gene (hERG) Potassium Channel. Analyst. 2015 (accepted; link)

Bai H, Chen W, Wu W, Ma Z, Zhang H, Jiang T, Zhang T, Zhou Y, Du L, Shen Y and Li M. Discovery of a series of 2-phenylnaphthalenes as firefly luciferase inhibitors. RSC Advance. 2015,6:7826 (in press)

Liu Z, Wang B, Ma Z, Zhou Y, Du L and Li M. Fluorogenic probe for the human Ether-a-Go-Go-related gene potassium channel imaging. Analytical Chemistry. 2015,87(5):2550-4. (PMID: 25665091)

2014 and earlier

Gudlur A*, Quintana A*, Zhou Y, Hirve N, Mahapatra S, Hogan PG. STIM1 triggers a gating rearrangement at the extracellular mouth of the ORAI1 channel. Nature Communications. 2014,5:5164 (PMID: 25296861)

Zhou MH, Zheng H, Si H, Jin Y, Peng MJ, He L, Zhou Y, Munoz-Garay C, Zawieja DC, Kuo L, Xu P, Zhang SL. Stromal interaction molecule 1 (STIM1) and Orai mediate histamine-evoked calcium entry and NFAT signaling in human umbilical vein endothelial cells. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2014, 289(42):29446-56. (PMID: 25190815)

Zhou Y, Srinivasan P, Razavi S, Seymour S, Meraner P, Stathopulos PB, Ikura M, Rao A, Hogan PG. Initial activation of STIM1, the regulator of store-operated calcium entry. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 2013,20(8):973-81. (PMID: 23851458)

Zhou Y, Xue S, Chen Y, Yang JJ. Probing Ca2+-binding capability of viral proteins with the EF-hand motifs by grafting approach. Methods in Molecular Biology. 2013. 963:37-53. (PMID: 23296603)

Zhou Y, Xue S, Yang JJ. Calciomics: integrative studies of Ca2+-binding proteins and their interactomes in biological systems. Metallomics. 2013. 5(1):29-42. (PMID: 23235533) (highlighted in the journal back cover; "Top Ten Most Accessed Articles")

Chen Y, Zhou Y, Lin X, Wong HC, Xu Q, Jiang J, Wang S, Lurtz MM, Louis CF, Veenstra RD, Yang JJ. Molecular interaction and functional regulation of connexin50 gap junctions by calmodulin. Biochemical Journal. 2011. 435(3):711-22. (PMID: 21320072)

Zhou Y, Ramachandran S, Oh-hora M, Rao A and Hogan PG. Pore architecture of the ORAI1 store-operated calcium channel. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA. 2010,107(11):4896-901. (PMID: 20194792)

Zhou Y, Meraner P*, Kwon, HT, Machnes D, Oh-hora Masatsugu, Zimmer Jochen, Huang Y, Stura A, Rao A and Hogan PG. STIM1 gates the store-operated calcium channel ORAI1 in vitro. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 2010,17(1):112-116. (PMID: 20037597)

Zhou Y, Tzeng WP, Wong HC, Ye Y, Jiang J, Chen Y, Huang Y, Suppiah S, Frey TK, and Yang JJ. Calcium-dependent association of calmodulin with the Rubella virus nonstructural protease domain. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2010,285(12):8855-68. (PMID:20086014)

Huang Y, Zhou Y, Wong HC, Castiblanco A, Chen Y, Brown EM, Yang JJ. Calmodulin regulates Ca2+-sensing receptor mediated Ca2+ signaling and its cell surface expression. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2010,285(46):35919-31. (PMID: 20826781; *: Equal contribution)

Jiang J, Zhou Y, Zou J, Chen Y, Patel P, Yang JJ, Balog EM. Site-specific modification of calmodulin Ca2+ affinity tunes the skeletal muscle ryanodine receptor activation profile. Biochemical Journal. 2010,432(1):89-99. (PMID: 20815817)

Jiang Y, Huang Y, Wong HC, Zhou Y, Wang X, Yang J, Hall RA, Brown EM and Yang JJ. Elucidation of a novel extracellular calcium binding site on metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 alpha(mGluR1{alpha}) that controls receptor activation. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2010,285: 33463-74. (PMID: 20705606)

Huang Y, Zhou Y, Wong, HC, Chen Y, Chen Y, Wang S, Castiblanco A, Liu A and Yang JJ. A single EF-hand isolated from STIM1 forms dimer in the absence and presence of Ca2+. FEBS Journal. 2009,276(19):5589-97. (PMID: 19694801)

Zhou Y, Yang W, Lurtz M, Chen Y, Jiang J, Huang Y, Louis CF, and Yang JJ. Calmodulin mediates the Ca2+-dependent regulation of Cx44 gap junctions. Biophysical Journal. 2009, 96(7):2832-48. (PMID:19348766)

Huang Y, Zhou Y, Castiblanco A, Yang W, Brown EM, Yang JJ. Multiple Ca2+-binding sites in the extracellular domain of Ca2+-sensing receptor corresponding to cooperative Ca2+ responses. Biochemistry. 2009, 48(2):388-98. (PMID: 19102677) [highlighted on the journal’s home page]

Zhou Y, Tzeng WP, Ye Y, Huang Y, Chen Y, Frey TK, Yang JJ. A cysteine-rich metal binding domain from rubella virus nonstructural protein is essential for viral protease activity and virus replication. Biochemical Journal. 2009, 417(2):477-83. (PMID: 18795894)

Yang JJ, Yang J, Wei L, Zurkiya O, Yang W, Li S, Zou J, Zhou Y, Maniccia AL, Mao H, Zhao F, Malchow R, Zhao S, Johnson J, Hu X, Krogstad E, Liu ZR. Rational Design of Protein-Based MRI Contrast Agents. Rational Design of Protein-Based MRI Contrast Agents.  Journal of the American Chemical Society. 2008, 130(29):9260-7. (PMID: 18576649)

Zhou Y, Tzeng WP, Yang W, Zhou Y, Ye Y, Lee HW, Frey TK, Yang J. Identification of a Ca2+-binding domain in the rubella virus nonstructural protease. Journal of Virology. 2007, 81(14):7517-28. (PMID: 17475644)

Zhou Y, Yang W, Lurtz MM, Ye Y, Huang Y, Lee HW, Chen Y, Louis CF, Yang JJ. Identification of the calmodulin binding domain of connexin43. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2007,282(48):35005-17. (PMID: 17901047)

Huang Y, Zhou Y, Yang W, Butters R, Lee HW, Li S, Castiblanco A, Brown EM, Yang JJ. Identification and dissection of Ca2+-binding sites in the extracellular domain of Ca2+-sensing receptor. The Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2007, 282(26):19000-10. (PMID: 17478419; *: Equal contribution)

Liu Y, Tong Q, Zhou Y, Lee HW, Yang JJ, Buhring HJ, Chen YT, Ha B, Chen CX, Yang Y, Zen K. Functional elements on SIRPα IgV domain mediate cell surface binding to CD47. Journal of Molecular Biology. 2007;19;365(3):680-93. (PMID: 17070842)

Zhou Y, Yang W, Kirberger M, Lee HW, Ayalasomayajula G, Yang JJ. Prediction of EF-hand calcium-binding proteins and analysis of bacterial EF-hand proteins. Proteins: Structure, Function and Bioinformatics. 2006;65(3):643-55. (PMID: 16981205)

Book Chapters and Reviews

Gudlur A, Zhou Y, and Hogan PG.  STIM-ORAI interactions that control the CRAC channel.Current Topics in Membranes. 2013,71:33-58. [PMID:23890110]

Zhou Y, Xue S, Frey TK and Yang JJ. Probing Ca2+ binding capability of viral proteins with the EF-hand motif by grafting approach. Methods in Molecular Biology. 2013,963:37-53.(PMID: 23296603)

Zhou Y, Xue S, and Yang JJ. “Calciomics: integrative studies on Ca2+ binding proteins and their interactomes in biological systems”. Metallomics. 2013,5(1):29-42. (PMID: 23235533)

Zhou Y, Rao A and Hogan PG. “ORAI store-operated calcium channel” for the second Edition of the “Encyclopedia of Biological Chemistry", Elsevier. 2013:359-366.

Zhou Y, Xue S, Chen Y, and Yang JJ. “Calcium and viruses” for “Encyclopedia of Metalloproteins”, Springer. 2013.

Zhou Y, Frey TK, Yang JJ. Viral calciomics: interplays between Ca2+ and virus. Cell Calcium. 2009,46(1):1-17. (PMID: 19535138)

Chen Y, Xue S, Zhou Y and Yang JJ. Calciomics: prediction and analysis of EF-hand calcium binding proteins by protein engineering. Science China Chemistry. 2010,53(1):52-60. (PMID: 20802784)

Zhou Y, Zhou W, Zhang Y. Research advances of two-dimensional electrophoresis based proteomic application in biological fluids. Chinese Journal of Pharmacology and Toxicology. 2003,17(4):292-97.