Cryo electron microscopy (cryoEM) has emerged as a tool of choice for determining three-dimensional (3D) structures of macromolecular complexes or biological nano-machines (>50 kDa) near their native forms and sometimes in situ. When such complexes can be isolated in microgram quantities, atomic models can now be obtained by cryoEM single-particle analysis and model building. Comparisons of atomic models obtained for the same complex at different functional states provide mechanistic insights for its functions. For pleomorphic complexes, such as those in their cellular or tissue environments, molecular resolution structures can be reconstructed by cryo electron tomography (cryoET). Examples will be presented to illustrate the power of cryoEM in visualizing 3D structures of nano-scale biological machines containing proteins, nucleic acids or lipids to inform such fundamental biological processes as genome packing and transcription, molecular translocation and infectious diseases.
Z. Hong Zhou is a Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics and the Director of the Electron Imaging Center for Nanomachines at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He received his early education in physics at the University of Science and Technology of China and earned his Ph.D. (in 1995) in biochemistry at the Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas, USA, under the tutorage of Professor Wah Chiu.
Zhou has published about 200 research articles and book chapters. He uses cryoEM to determine three-dimensional structures of molecular complexes near their native functional states at near atomic resolution. His research addresses both practical and fundamental biological questions, such as how viruses assemble and spread and how proteins and nucleic acids interact to store and release energy, to transduce signals, and to perform tasks of chemistry or functions of life.
Zhou was a Pew Scholar in Biological Sciences and a Basil O’Connor Scholar of the March of Dimes Foundation. He is a recipient of a Burton Award and K. H. Kuo Distinguished Scientist Award.
Bi-Weekly Seminar Series by the NYU-ECNU Center for Computational Chemistry at NYU Shanghai