Wei Zhang

Wei Zhang

Academic Title

Research Assistant Professor
Division of Basic Sciences
Department of Diagnostic and Biological Sciences


Biophysics, B.S., Nankai University (China), 1989
Biophysics, M.S., Institute of Biophysics (China), 1992; Computer Sciences, M.S., Purdue University, 2002
Biological Sciences, Ph.D., Purdue University, 2001
Other Education
Post doctoral, Biological Sciences, Purdue University, 2002

Contact Info



Office Address

18-160 Moos Tower
515 Delaware St. SE
Minneapolis, MN 55455

Bio Statement

A key step in the entry of enveloped viruses, such as influenza virus, HIV, West Nile virus and Sindbis virus, into the host cell, is fusion of the viral envelope with the host cell membrane. My research aims to illustrate the structural details of this process using Sindbis virus as a model system. Cryo-electron microscopy and three-dimensional image reconstruction techniques will be used to determine the structure of the virus-membrane complex at nanometer resolution. Fitting the crystal structure of the viral fusion protein into the reconstruction map will lead to discovery of the conformation, oligomerization and organization of the fusion proteins at the site of membrane interaction. The structural knowledge gained from this research will provide potential targets for anti-viral reagents. In addition, this study will also help to establish a general approach for structural investigation of membrane fusion carried out by other enveloped viruses.

Research Projects

Research Support

University of Minnesota, Research Infrastructure Investment (PI) 2013-2015
Title: A Fast, Accurate and Automated Solution for Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy

NIH/NIGMS RO1 (Co-investigator) 2012-2016
PI: Louis Mansky
Title: HTLV-1 Particle Analysis and Gag Interactions

University of Minnesota, Grant-in-Aid (PI) 2011-2013
Title: Cryotransfer System for a New Transmission Electron Microscope

NIH/NIAID (PI) 2009-2012
Title: Structural Studies of Alphavirus Membrane Fusion In Situ

NIH/NCRR (PI) 2010-2012
Title: Transmission Electron Microscope in the Academic Health Center

NIHNCRR(Co-investigator) 2006
PI: Michael Rossmann
Title: An Electron Microscope for the Study of Complex Biological Assemblies.

University of Minnesota, Grant-in-Aid (PI) 2011-2012
Title: Active Vibration Isolation System for a New Transmission Electron Microscope

University of Minnesota, Office of Vice Present for Research (PI) 2010-2011
Title: Lab renovation For Installation of a New FEI Transmission Electron Microscope Funded by the NIH

University of Minnesota, Grant-in-Aid (PI) 2010-2011
Title: Structural Studies of Alphavirus Membrane Fusion In Situ


Cao, S. and W. Zhang (2013) Characterization of an Early-Stage Membrane Fusion Intermediate of Sindbis Virus using Cryo-electron Microscopy. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S. In press.

Zhang, W., B. Kaufmann, P. R. Chipman, R. J. Kuhn and M. G. Rossmann (2013) Membrane Curvature in Flaviviruses. Journal of Structural Biology. In press.

Kadiu, I, P. Narayanasamy, P. K. Dash, W. Zhang and H.E. Gendelman, 2012. Biochemical and Biological Characterization of Exosomes and Microvesicles as Facilitators of HIV-1 Infection in Macrophages. J Immunology. 189(2):744-54. PMID: 22711894.

Tang, J., J. Jose, P. Chipman, W. Zhang, R.J. Kuhn, T.S. Baker, 2011. Molecular Links between the Envelope Glycoprotein and Nucleocapsid Core in Sindbis Virus. J Mol Biol. 414(3):442-59. PMID:22001018.

Fogarty K.H., Zhang W., Grigsby I.F., Johnson J.L., Chen Y., Mueller J.D. and Mansky L.M. 2011. New insights into HTLV-1 particle structure, assembly and Gag-Gag interctions in living cells. Viruses. 3(6):770-93. PMCID: PMC3185773.

Grigsby, I.F., Zhang, W., Johnson, J.L., Fogarty, K.H., Chen, Y., Rawson, J.M., Crosby, A.J., Mueller, J.D., and L.M. Mansky. 2010. Biophysical analysis of HTLV-1 particles reveals novel insights into particle morphology and Gag stoichiometry. Retrovirology 7: 75-87. PMCID: PMC2954917.

Junjhon, J., T.J. Edwards, U. Utaipat, V.D. Bowman, H.A. Holdaway, W. Zhang, P. Keelapang, C. Puttikhunt, R. Perera, P.R. Chipman, W. Kasinrerk, P. Malasit, R.J. Kuhn, N. Sittisombut, 2010. Influence of pr-M cleavage on the heterogeneity of extracellular dengue virus particles. J Virol 84, 8353-8. PMCID: PMC2916513.

Yu, I.-M., W. Zhang, H. A. Holdaway, L. Li, V. A. Kostyuchenko, P. R. Chipman, R. J. Kuhn, M. G. Rossmann, J. Chen. 2008. Structure of immature dengue virus at low pH primes proteolytic maturation. Science. 319:1834-1837. PMC Journal - In Process. PMID18369148.

Kaufmann, B., G. E. Nybakken, P. R. Chipman, W. Zhang, M. S. Diamond, D. H. Fremont, R. J. Kuhn, M. G. Rossmann. 2006. West Nile virus in complex with the Fab fragment of a neutralizing monoclonal antibody. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S. 103:12400-12404. PMCID: PMC1567891.

Mukhopadhyay, S., W. Zhang, S. Gabler, P. R. Chipman, E. G. Strauss, J. H. Strauss, T. S. Baker, R. J. Kuhn, M. G. Rossmann. 2006. Mapping the structure and function of the E1 and E2 glycoproteins in alphaviruses. Structure. 14:63-73. PMCID: PMC2757649.

Ji, Y., D. C. Marinescu, W. Zhang, X. Zhang, X. Yan, T. S. Baker. 2006. A model-based parallel alignment algorithm for cryoTEM and its application to the study of virus structures. J. Struct. Biol. 154:1-19. PMC Journal - In Process. PMID16459100.

Zhang, W., M. Heil, R. J. Kuhn, T. S. Baker. 2005. Heparin binding sites on Ross River virus revealed by electron cryo-microscopy. Virology 332:511-518. PMC Journal - In Process. PMID15680416.

Zhang, Y., W. Zhang, S. Ogata, D. Clements, J. H. Strauss, T. S. Baker, R. J. Kuhn, M. G. Rossmann. 2004. Conformational changes of the flavivirus E glycoprotein. Structure 12:1607-1618. PMC Journal - In Process. PMID15341726.

Zhang, W., P. R. Chipman, J. Corver, P. R. Johnson, Y. Zhang, S. Mukhopadhyay, T. S. Baker, J. H. Strauss, M. G. Rossmann, R. J. Kuhn. 2003. Visualization of membrane protein domains by cryo- electron microscopy of dengue virus. Nat. Struct. Biol. 10:907-912. PMC Journal - In Process. PMID14528291.

Zhang, Y., J. Corver, P. R. Chipman, W. Zhang, S. V. Pletnev, D. Sedlak, T. S. Baker, J. H. Strauss, R. J. Kuhn, M. G. Rossmann. 2003. Structures of immature flavivirus particles. EMBO J. 22:2604-2613. PMCID: PMC156766.

Zhang, W.*, S. Mukhopadhyay*, S. V. Pletnev, T. S. Baker, R. J. Kuhn, M. G. Rossmann. 2002. Placement of the structural proteins in Sindbis virus. J. Virol. 76:11645-11658. PMCID: PMC136788. * equal contribution

Zhang, W., B. Fisher, N. Olson, J. H. Strauss, R. J. Kuhn, T. S. Baker. 2002. Aura virus structure suggests that the T=4 organization is a fundamental property of viral structural proteins. J. Virol. 76:7239- 7246. PMCID: PMC136343.

Kuhn, R. J., W. Zhang, M. G. Rossmann, S. V. Pletnev, J. Corver, E. Lenches, C. T. Jones, S. Mukhopadhyay, P. R. Chipman, E. G. Strauss, T. S. Baker, J. H. Strauss. 2002. Structure of dengue virus: implications for flavivirus, organization, maturation and fusion. Cell 108:717-725. PMC Journal - In Process. PMID11893341.

Zhang, W., N. Olson, T. S. Baker, L. Faulkner, M. Agbandje-McKenna, M. I. Boulton, J. W. Davies, R. McKenna. 2001. Structure of the maize streak virus geminate particle. Virology 279:471-477. PMC Journal - In Process. PMID11162803.

Pletnev, S. V.*, W. Zhang*, S. Mukhopadhyay, B. R. Fisher, R. Hernandez, D. T. Brown, T. S. Baker, M. G. Rossmann, R. J. Kuhn. 2001. Locations of carbohydrate sites on alphavirus glycoproteins show that E1 forms an icosahedral scaffold. Cell 105:127-136. PMC Journal - In Process. PMID11301008. * equal contribution

Tao, Y., W. Zhang. 2000. Recent developments in cryo-electron microscopy reconstruction of single particles. Curr. Opin. Struct. Biol. 10:616-622. PMID11042462.

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