Grants and Awards
- National Science Foundation
- Alternative splicing in the regulation of plant innate immunity. (2019-2023)
- Collaborative: ABI Development: Methodology for Pattern Creation, Imprint Validation, and Discovery from the Annotated Biological Web. (2012-2017)
- RUI: Cloning and characterization of OPENED IMMATURE FLOWER. (2010-2015)
- St Bonaventure University
Keenan Award: Aligning Biology Lab Planning, Instructional Design and Common Core College Readiness Writing Standards to Increase Student Learning. (2012-2013). Co-awardee: Paula Kenneson, School of Education.
- Community-based Learning Fellowship Award (2009-2010). Co-awardees: Miguel Narvaez and Willy Rotich, School of Education.
Peer-Reviewed Publications (Selected Publications. * indicates corresponding author)
- Samuel L. Chen S, Timothy J. Rooney T, Anna R. Hu, Hunter S. Beard, Wesley M. Garrett, Leann M. Mangalath, Jordan J. Powers, Bret Cooper, Xiao-Ning Zhang*. Quantitative proteomics reveals a role for SERINE/ARGININE-RICH 45 in regulating RNA metabolism and modulating transcriptional suppression via the ASAP complex in Arabidopsis thaliana. Frontiers in Plant Science. Aug 2019. DOI: 10.3389/fpls.2019.01116.
- Nannan Zhang, Dandan Zhang, Samuel L. Chen, Ben-Qiang Gong, Yanjun Guo, Lahong Xu, Xiano-Ning Zhang and Jian-Feng Li*. Engineering artificial microRNAs for multiplex gene silencing and simplified transgenic screen. Plant Physiology. November 2018. 178(3): 989-1001. DOI: 10.1104/pp.18.00828.
- Xiao-Ning Zhang*, Yifei Shi, Jordan Powers, Nikhil Gowda, Chong Zhang, Heba Ibrahim, Hannah Ball, Samuel Chen, Hua Lu, Stephen Mount. Transcriptome analyses reveal SR45 to be a neutral splicing regulator and a suppressor of innate immunity in Arabidopsis thaliana. BMC Genomics. 18:722. October 11, 2017. DOI: 10.1186/s12864-017-4183-7.
- Kevin Cilano, Zachary Mazanek, Mahmuda Khan, Sarah Metcalfe, Xiao-Ning Zhang*. A new mutation, hap1-2, reveals a C terminal domain function in AtMago protein and its biological effects in male gametophyte development in Arabidopsis thaliana. PlosOne. 11(2):e0148200. February 11, 2016. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0148200.
- Xiao-Ning Zhang*, Cecilia Mo, Wesley M. Garrett, Bret Cooper. Phosphothreonine 218 is required for the function of SR45.1 in regulating flower petal development in Arabidopsis. Plant Signaling & Behavior. 2014. 9:e29134. DOI: 10.4161/psb.29134.
- Xiao-Ning Zhang & Stephen Mount*. Two alternatively spliced isoforms of the Arabidopsis thaliana SR45 protein have distinct roles during normal plant development. Plant Physiol. 2009, 150(3): 1-9. DOI:10.1104/pp.109.138180.
Meeting Presentations (Recent Talks)
Student Research Posters (Highlights)
- Xiao-Ning Zhang. Teaching DNA in our life from K through 12. WNY STEAM Conference. Buffalo, NY. August 6, 2018. (Selected)
- Xiao-Ning Zhang and Jacqueline Philp. Teaching biotechnology and GMOs to non-science majors in college. STEM Institute. Alfred State College, NY. July 29-31, 2018. (Selected)
- Rene Hauser, Jacqueline Philp and Xiao-Ning Zhang. No time lost: Integrated lessons. STEM Institute. Alfred State College, NY. July 29-31, 2018. (Selected)
- Xiao-Ning Zhang, Chong Zhang, Jordan Powers, Hua Lu. A splicing activator, SR45, functions as a global suppressor of plant immunity. Post-transcriptional Gene Regulation in Plants Meeting. Austin, Texas. July 14-15, 2016. (Selected)
- Xiao-Ning Zhang. High quality RNAs for healthy pollen. 17th Plant Biology Minisymposium, May 26, 2016. (Invited)
- Xiao-Ning Zhang. Phosphor-regulation induced pre-mRNA splicing via a splicing activator, SR45, during flower development. Plant and Animal Genome XXIII Conference. San Diego, CA. January 10-14th, 2015. (Invited)
- Xiao-Ning Zhang, Emily M. Ranseen, Hunter S. Beard, Wesley M. Garrett, Jordan J. Powers, Chong Zhang, Arthur G. Hunt, Bret Cooper & Hua Lu. A comparative analysis of transcriptome and proteome reveals roles for Serine/Arginine-Rich 45 in Arabidopsis innate immune response. FASEB Research Conference – The Mechanisms in Plant Development. Olean, NY. July 28-August 2, 2019.
- Samuel Chen, Timothy Rooney, Yifei Shi, Steve Mount, Hunter Beard, Wesley Garrett, Bret Cooper, Xiao-Ning Zhang. Transcriptome and proteome changes in response to perturbation of pre-mRNA splicing during reproduction in Arabidopsis. Gordon Research Conference: Plant Molecular Biology. Holderness, NH. June 10-15, 2018.
- Jordan Powers, Chong Zhang, Hua Lu, Xiao-Ning Zhang. A splicing regulator, serine/Arginine-rich 45, plays a novel role in suppressing innate immunity in Arabidopsis. Plant Biology Meeting 2017. Honolulu, Hawaii. Jul. 24-28, 2017. (Powers received ASPB travel award.)
- Jordan Powers, Nikhil Gowda, Xiao-Ning Zhang. RNA-seq data analysis reveals a novel role of SR45 in plant innate immunity. Rustbelt RNA Meeting. Cleveland, OH. October 14-15, 2016. (Powers’s selected talk. He won Outstanding Undergraduate Student Oral Presentation Award.)
- Vanya Aggarwal, Rijo Maracheril, Xiao-Ning Zhang. Mutations in AtKIN11 and AtKIN10 and their effects on protein structures and glucose sensing. Plant Biology Meeting. Minneapolis, MN. July 25-29, 2015.
Living organisms constantly incorporate information/signals from surroundings in their survival strategies and to maximize reproductive success. My long-term interest is to understand how plants integrate environmental cues, including biotic and abiotic stresses, into the regulation of growth and development. One step toward this understanding is to answer the question: how do plants adjust growth and development by regulating pre-mRNA splicing in response to environmental signals?
Pre-mRNA splicing is a necessary regulation step in all eukaryotic cells. Using next generation sequencing (NGS), scientists have discovered an increasing number of splicing events that have not been documented before even in well-studied species. So far, my lab has found evidence that a splicing activator, SR45, is involved in plant growth and development and responds to cold/heat stress and sugar supplies (Plant Physiol. 150:1450-1458. 2009). Our work has shown that a single phosphorylation event on SR45 protein is directly affecting SR45 functions in a tissue specific manner (Plant Signaling & Behavior. 9:e29134. 2014). In addition, we also identified new associations between SR45 and 7 proteins, including
U5 snRNP components and SR proteins, using co-immunoprecipitation (Plant Signaling & Behavior. 9:e29134. 2014). In collaboration with a computer scientist, Dr. Padmini Srinivasan, from University Iowa and biologists in University of Maryland, we developed and field tested a literature scanning system for biologists: FERRET (BMC BIOINFORMATICS. 16:198. 2015). This paper has been accessed more than 4000 times in the first month of publication.
I am planning to extend the work above with the following three goals:
- Identify the molecular network that SR45 is involved in.
- Understand the evolutionary significance for the splicing network among species.
- Explore the mechanism with which RNA quality control leads to successful male gametophyte development.
With the rapid development in NGS and proteomics, we attempt to answer the question how many of the SR45-regulated splicing events are biologically important at the protein level. With bioinformatics analysis, we recently discovered that SR45 may act as a suppressor of plant innate immunity by keeping a subset of defense genes in check. This opens up an exciting, yet unexplored research field to study how pre-RNA splicing mechanism regulate plant immunity. This will help shed light on the emerging roles of SR45 in splicing, gene silencing, abiotic stress response and others that yet to be revealed.
An interview by DNASTAR, a global bioinformatics software company, captures my research interests and current activities.
Undergraduate students who are interested in training opportunities in molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry and/or bioinformatics are welcome to contact me for potential research experience.