Jing Zhang

Position title: Professor

Email: Zhang@oncology.wisc.edu

Phone: 608-263-1147

Using genetically engineered mouse models to study normal and mutant hematopoietic stem cell functions

417A McArdle Laboratory
1995, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Beijing University, China, Postdoctoral Research: Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, Boston, MA
Lab Website
Research Interests
We use genetically engineered mouse models to study normal and mutant hematopoietic stem cell functions.
Research Fields
Disease Biology, Cell Biology, Development, Genomics & Proteomics, Human, mouse & rat

Research Description:
The most fascinating feature of adult stem cells is their ability to replace themselves through many, but limited, rounds of self-renewal while also generating more differentiated progenies to constitute part of or entire tissues. When oncogenic mutations accumulate in normal stem cells, limited self-renewal evolves into “indefinite” self-renewal in prospective cancer stem cells. This leads to tumorigenesis in several organs.

My laboratory focuses on studying the mechanisms underlying the normal as well as oncogenic self-renewal of stem cells using the hematopoietic compartment as a model system. The hematopoietic system is one of the best tissues to study normal stem cells and prospective cancer stem cells; the developmental hierarchy of normal blood formation is well defined, hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) can be highly purified based on their characteristic immunophenotypes, HSCs can be cultured in vitro, exogenous genes and shRNAs can be readily introduced into HSCs, and stem cell activities can be assayed by in vivo repopulation experiments in mouse. HSCs constantly make a choice between self-renewal and lineage differentiation, and the lineage-committed progenitors make a decision to proliferate, differentiate, or undergo apoptosis. This balance is critical because, once the balance is tilted towards “indefinite” self-renewal at the expense of normal terminal lineage differentiation, normal hematopoiesis evolves into hematopoietic malignancies.

HSCs are regulated by cell-cell and cell-extracellular matrix interactions as well as by cytokines acting through their receptors. One of the molecules we have been studying is K-ras. K-ras is one of the most frequently mutated genes identified in human patients with various hematopoietic malignancies. The oncogenic mutations in the K-ras gene are acquired either as the first genetic change (1st hit) during leukemogenesis or one of the later genetic changes during leukemia progression. However, its precise roles in leukemogenesis and leukemia progression remain elusive. Using recipient mice transplanted with bone marrow cells expressing oncogenic K-ras from its endogenous promoter, we found that oncogenic K-ras mutations induce hematopoietic malignancies in multiple lineages. Based on our preliminary results, we hypothesize that when oncogenic K-ras mutations act as the 1st hit in leukemogenesis, its primary target is HSCs. Oncogenic K-ras mutations further co-operate with additional genetic change(s) occurring in lineage-committed progenitors to initiate and maintain hematopoietic malignant phenotypes.

Current projects include:
1. Establish a model of oncogenic K-ras-induced hematopoietic malignancies
2. Study the role of cytokine signaling in oncogenic K-ras-induced hematopoietic malignancies
3. Establish a mouse model of acute myeloid leukemia by combining oncogenic N-ras mutation with Evi-1 overexpression
4. Determine the roles of key signaling proteins and transcription factors in normal hematopoiesis and hematopoietic malignancies by creating and analyzing conditional knockout, oncogenic, or overexpression alleles
5. Preclinical/translational studies using genetically modified mouse models of hematopoietic malignancies

Representative Publications:
Search PubMed for more publications by Jing Zhang

Wang, J., Liu, Y., Li, Z.Y., Wang, Z. D., Tan, L.X., Ryu, M.-J., Meline, B., Du, J., Young, K.H., Ranheim, E., Chang, Q., and Zhang, J. Endogenous oncogenic Nras signaling promotes hematopoietic malignancies in a dose- and cell type-dependent manner. Blood, 118(2): 368-379, 2011.

Wang, J., Liu, Y., Tan, L. X., Lo, J.C., Du, J., Ryu, M.-J., Ranheim, R.A., and Zhang, J. Distinct requirements of hematopoietic stem cell activity and Nras G12D signaling in different cell types during leukemogenesis. Cell Cycle, 10 (17):2836-2839, 2011.

Du,J., Wang, J., Kong, G., Jiang, J., Zhang, J., Liu, Y., Tong, W., and Zhang, J. Signaling profiling at the single cell level identifies a distinct signaling signature in murine hematopoietic stem cells. Stem Cells, 30(7):1447-1454, 2012.

Ryu, M.-J., Liu, Y., Zhong, X., Du, J., Peterson, N., Kong, G., Li, H., Wang, J., Salamat, S., Chang, Q., and Zhang, J. Oncogenic Kras expression in postmitotic neurons leads to S100A8-S100A9 protein overexpression and gliosis. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 287(27): 22948-22958, 2012.

Johnson, K.D., Hsu, A.D., Ryu,M.-J., Wang, J., Gao, X., Boyer, M.E., Liu, Y., Lee, Y., Calvo, K.R., Keles, S., Zhang, J.*, Holland, S. M.*, and Bresnick, E.H.*. Cis-element mutated in GATA2-dependent immunodeficiency governs hematopoiesis and vascular integrity. Journal of Clinical Investigation, in press.

* corresponding authors.