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Photo of Zhao-Wen  Wang, Ph.D.

Zhao-Wen Wang, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Neuroscience
Faculty in Neuroscience, Cell Biology and Genetics & Developmental Biology graduate programs
Academic Office Location:
Neuroscience
UConn Health
263 Farmington Avenue
Farmington, CT 06030
Phone: 860-679-7659
Website(s):

Wang Lab Page

Neuroscience Graduate Program

Genetics and Developmental Biology

Cell Biology Graduate Program

Education
DegreeInstitutionMajor
M.S.The 3rd Military Med UnivMedicine & Physiology
Ph.D.Michigan State UniversityPhysiology/Neurosci.

Post-Graduate Training
TrainingInstitutionSpecialty
PostdoctoralUniversity of PennsylvaniaElectrophysiology
PostdoctoralWashington UniversityNeurobiology

Awards
Name of Award/HonorAwarding Organization
National Research Service Award (individual) 1996-1999
National Research Service Award (institutional) 1995-1996
Name & DescriptionCategoryRoleTypeScopeStart YearEnd Year
Genetic Society of American Professional/Scientific OrganizationMemberExternalNational2005
Society for Neuroscience Professional/Scientific OrganizationMemberExternalNational2002

Regulation of neurotransmitter release by Ca2+ and Ca2+-sensitive proteins
Function and regulation of gap junctions
My lab uses the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans (C. elegans) as a model organism to study molecular mechanisms of neurotransmitter release, and the function and regulation of gap junctions. C. elegans is a very powerful model system for studying fundamental biological problems, which is highlighted by the award of two recent Noble prizes (Physiology or Medicine, 2002 and 2006) to scientists studying C. elegans.


Ca2+ plays key roles in neurotransmitter release. It triggers the release by directly binding to Ca2+ sensor(s) at the presynaptic site, and regulates the release by modulating the activities of several presynaptic proteins. We study the functions of presynaptic voltage-gated Ca2+ channels, ryanodine receptor (a Ca2+-releasing channel in the endoplasmic reticulum membrane), BK channel (a large-conductance Ca2+-activated K+ channel), and Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II (CaMKII) in neurotransmitter release, and try to determine whether and how these proteins interact at the presynaptic site. These research programs have the potential to significantly advance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of synaptic transmission.


Gap junctions are intercellular channels that are almost ubiquitously expressed. However, their biological functions and regulations are still poorly understood. My lab was the first (so far the only one) to adapt the dual whole-cell voltage clamp technique to the analysis of electrical coupling in C. elegans. We use a combination of electrophysiological, genetic, and cell biological techniques to identify and characterize conserved mechanisms of gap junction assembly and regulation.

Accepting students for Lab Rotations: Summer '17, Spring '18

Journal Articles

Books

Book Chapters

  • Roles and sources of calcium in synaptic exocytosis.
    Wang, Z. W., Chen, B.J., and Ge, Q. Molecular Mechanisms of Neurotransmitter Release 2008 Jan;61-84
  • The impact of the C. elegans genome project on potassium channel biology.
    Salkoff, L., Kunkel, M., Wang, Z. W., Butler, A., Nonet, M., and Wei, A. Potassium Ion Channels: Molecular Structure, Function and Diseases 1999 Jan;9-27

Erratums

Reviews