Assistant Professor |School of Life Sciences, Department of Biology

Dr. Wen Zhou did his PhD study at the Institute of Botany, Chinese Academy of Sciences. As a Benacerraf postdoctoral fellow in immunology and through a Charles A. King Trust Postdoctoral Fellowship at Harvard medical school and the Dana Farber Cancer Institute (2017–2021), Dr. Wen Zhou has given his extensive experience and training in the field of immunology. His research in postdoc has particularly focused on cGAS-STING immunity pathway as a paradigm for anti-pathogen and anti-tumor signaling. His research provides mechanistic advances in our understanding of how immune cells sense cytosolic DNA in health and diseases.

After joining SUSTech as an assistant professor in April 2021, Dr. Zhou’s lab will seek to reveal the importance of phase separation as a new form regulation in immunity, and to discover new nucleic acid receptors and regulatory factors.

Personal Profile


We are working to understand the molecular mechanisms of innate immune responses to pathogens and tumor. Our lab use a combination of biochemistry, cell biology and structural biology to study two main questions: (1) How immune cells precisely control immune surveillance and regulation? (2) What’s the uncharacterized nucleic acid receptors and regulatory factors? We are focusing on:

1. Phase separation as a new form regulation in immunity: Phase separation refers to the formation of liquid droplets in cells due to the weak interactions by numerous macrobiomolecules. Our knowledge of phase separation in immunity is quite limited. We are working to determine the important roles of phase separation in innate immune signaling.

2. Discover novel nucleic acid receptors and regulatory factors: Nucleic acids (DNA and RNA), serve as dangerous signals, are able to induce potent immune responses. Nucleic acid receptors are the key components that control innate immune responses. Bioinformatics analysis suggests that a large number of potential nucleic acid receptors are waiting for discovery. We are working to screen and discover new nucleic acid receptors and related regulatory factors to understand nucleic acid immunity across evolution.

Publications Read More

Selected publications:

  1. Slavik KM, Morehouse BR, Ragucci AE, Zhou W, Ai X, Chen Y, Li L, Wei Z, Bähre H, König M, Seifert R, Lee ASY, Cai H, Leler JL, Kranzusch PJ. (2021). cGAS-like receptors sense RNA and control 3′2′-cGAMP signalling in Drosophila.  Nature 597, 109–113. PMID 34261127
  2. Zhou W, Mohr L, Maciejowski J, Kranzusch PJ (2021). cGAS phase separation inhibits TREX1-mediated DNA degradation and enhances cytosolic DNA sensing. Molecular Cell 81: 739–755. PMID: 33606975
  3. Barnett KC, Coronas-Serna JM, Zhou W, Ernandes MJ, Cao A, Kranzusch PJ, Kagan JC (2019). Phosphoinositide Interactions Position cGAS at the Plasma Membrane to Ensure Efficient Distinction between Self- and Viral DNA. Cell 176: 1432–1446.e11. PMID: 30827685
  4. Zhou W, Whiteley AT, Kranzusch PJ (2019). Analysis of human cGAS activity and structure. Methods in Enzymology 625: 13–40. PMID: 31455523
  5. Zhou W*, Whiteley AT*, de Oliveira Mann CC, Morehouse BR, Nowak RP, Fischer ES, Gray NS, Mekalanos JJ, Kranzusch PJ (2018). Structure of the human cGAS–DNA complex reveals enhanced control of immune surveillance. Cell 174: 300–311. PMID: 30007416 (* co-first authors)
  6. Zhou W*, Lu Q*, Li Q, Wang L, Ding S, Zhang A, Wen X, Zhang L, Lu C (2017). PPR-SMR protein SOT1 has RNA endonuclease activity. PNAS 114: E1554–E1563. PMID: 28167782 (* co-first authors)

Other publications:

  1. Hertzog J, Zhou W, Rigby RE, Fowler G, Cursi C, Chauveau L, Davenne T, Kranzusch PJ, Rehwinkel J (2021) Varicella-Zoster Virus ORF9 Is an Antagonist of the DNA Sensor cGAS. Biorxiv doi:10.1101/2020.02.11.943415.
  2. Wang X, Yang Z, Zhang Y , Zhou W, Zhang A, Lu C (2020). Pentatricopeptide repeat protein PHOTOSYSTEM I BIOGENESIS FACTOR2 is required for splicing of ycf3. J Integr Plant Biol 11: 1741–1761.PMID: 32250043
  3.    9 Zhang L, Zhou W, Che L, Rochaix JD, Lu C, Li W, Peng L (2019). PPR protein BFA2 is essential for the accumulation of the atpH/F transcript in chloroplasts. Frontiers in Plant Science 10: 446. PMID: 31031784
  4.   10 Wang L, Li Q, Zhang A, Zhou W, Jiang R, Yang Z, Yang H, Qin X, Ding S, Lu Q, Wen X, Lu C (2017).The phytol phosphorylation pathway is essential for the biosynthesis of phylloquinone, which is required for photosystem I stability in Arabidopsis. Mol Plant 10: 183–196. PMID: 28007557
  5. Zhong L, Zhou W, Wang H, Ding S, Lu Q, Wen X, Peng L, Zhang L, Lu C (2013). Chloroplast small heat shock protein HSP21 interacts with plastid nucleoid protein pTAC5 and is essential for chloroplast development in Arabidopsis under heat stress. Plant Cell 25: 2925–2943. PMID: 23922206

Lab members Read More

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Contact Address

Room 410, Building B, Southern University of Science and Technology, 1088 Xueyuan Avenue, Nanshan District, Shenzhen 518055, P.R. China

Office Phone

(0755) 8801 0130



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