" "

Assistant Professor This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Volker G094H
(205) 934-1227

Research and Teaching Interests: Cardiac reprogramming, Heart regeneration, Stem cells, Epigenetics

Office Hours: By appointment

Education:

  • B.S., Fudan University, China
  • Ph.D., Chinese Academy of Sciences, China, Development Biology
  • Post-Doc, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Cardiovascular Biology

Dr. Yang Zhou joined the faculty in January 2019 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a postdoctoral fellow in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, McAllister Heart Institute.

She has extensive experience and expertise in cardiac differentiation and reprogramming. Her research focuses on studying cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying cardiac differentiation and direct reprogramming. The cardiac reprogramming offers a promising strategy to generate functional heart muscle cells for heart repair. The long-term goal of Zhou’s research is to comprehensively understand the genetic and epigenetic regulation for cell fate conversion, which will ultimately aid in the achievement of regenerative therapy and personalized medicine in the future.

Research Interests

Direct cardiac reprogramming is a new technology which converts a somatic non-myocyte directly into an induced cardiomyocyte (iCM). This technology not only provides a promising platform for the study of cellular plasticity, disease modeling and drug screening, but also is considered a therapeutic approach capable of restoring the function of an injured heart. However, it still faces challenges in efficiently generating mature iCMs. Dr. Yang Zhou’s current research interests are to understand the molecular basis of direct cardiac reprogramming, with which to improve the clinical applicability and efficiency of this novel approach.

The cell fate of various cell types within an individual is determined and maintained mostly by distinct patterns of epigenetic modifications, which can help to determine whether genes are turned on or off. Cell reprogramming is inherently an epigenetic remodeling process. Zhou has identified a key epigenetic barrier to iCM reprogramming, as well as other epigenetic modifiers and splicing factors regulating reprogramming. Removal of these barriers largely enhance iCM reprogramming. Zhou has also determined the distinct molecular features between iCM and induced pluripotent stem cell-derived CMs (iPSC-CMs) through comparative transcriptomics and functional validations, providing guidance for future applications of each reprogramming approach. Her ongoing projects include development of efficient and reliable human iCM reprogramming platform, gene regulatory and epigenetic mechanisms underlying the direct cell fate conversion into human iCMs, and in situ heart regeneration via direct reprogramming.

Select Publications

  • Zhou Y, Alimohamadi S, Wang L, Liu Z, Wall JB, Yin C, Liu J, Qian L. "A loss of function screen of epigenetic modifiers and splicing factors during early stage of cardiac reprogramming." Stem cells international. 2018 Mar 18;2018.
  • Liu Z, Wang L, Welch JD, Ma H, Zhou Y, Vaseghi HR, Yu S, Wall JB, Alimohamadi S, Zheng M, Yin C, Shen W, Prins JF, Liu J, Qian L. "Single-cell transcriptomics reconstructs fate conversion from fibroblast to cardiomyocyte." Nature. 2017 Nov 2;551(7678):100-104.
  • Zhou Y, Wang L, Liu Z, Alimohamadi S, Liu J, Qian L. "Comparative gene expression analyses reveal distinct molecular signature between differentially reprogrammed cardiomyocytes." Cell Reports. 2017 Sep 26;20(13):3014-3024.
  • Liu Z, Chen O, Wall JB, Zheng M, Zhou Y, Wang L, Vaseghi H, Qian L, Liu J. "Systematic comparison of 2A peptides for cloning multi-genes in a polycistronic vector." Scientific Reports. 2017 May 19;7(1):2193.
  • Vaseghi HR, Yin C, Zhou Y, Wang L, Liu J, Qian L. "Generation of an inducible fibroblast cell line for studying direct cardiac reprogramming." Genesis. 2016 Jul;54(7):398-406.
  • Zhou Y, Wang L, Vaseghi HR, Liu Z, Lu R, Alimohamadi S, Yin C, Fu JD, Wang GG, Liu J, Qian L. "Bmi1 is a key epigenetic barrier to direct cardiac reprogramming." Cell Stem Cell. 2016 Mar 3;18(3):382-395. (Highlighted in Cells Stem Cells and commented in Stem Cell Investigation.)
  • Liu Z, Chen O, Zheng M, Wang L, Zhou Y, Yin C, Liu J, Qian L. "Re-patterning of H3K27me3, H3K4me3 and DNA methylation during fibroblast conversion into induced cardiomyocytes." Stem Cell Research. 2016 Mar;16(2):507-518.
  • Wang L, Liu Z, Yin C, Zhou Y, Liu J, Qian L. "Improved generation of induced cardiomyocytes using a polycistronic construct expressing optimal ratio of Gata4, Mef2c and Tbx5." Journal of Visualized Experiments. 2015 Nov 13;(105).
  • Zhou Y, Jiang H, Gu J, Tang Y, Shen N, Jin Y. "MicroRNA-195 targets ADP-ribosylation factor-like protein 2 to induce apoptosis in human embryonic stem cell-derived neural progenitor cells." Cell Death & Disease. 2013 Jun 27;4:e695. (Recommended in F1000Prime.)