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Jiajun Zhu


Jiajun Zhu

Education and Research Experience:

5/2021-Present   Assistant Professor      Tsinghua University

3/2016-3/2021    Postdoctoral Research Fellow  Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center             

9/2010-3/2016    Ph.D., Cancer Biology  University of Pennsylvania

9/2010-3/2016    M.A., Statistics    University of Pennsylvania, The Wharton School

8/2006-7/2010    B.S., Biological Sciences  Tsinghua University

8/2006-7/2010     B.A., Economics (Dual Degree)  Tsinghua University   


Email Address:


Research Topic: 

Cellular Metabolism, Cell and Molecular Biology, Cancer Biology

Research Area:

  Cellular metabolism provides the basis for all physiological and pathological processes, including cancer, aging, development and immunity. The laboratory of Jiajun Zhu uses cell and molecular biology techniques, metabolomics approaches and mouse models to study how mammalian cells acquire and utilize various nutrients. We aim to address fundamental biological questions from the perspective of cellular metabolism, with the goal to better understand and treat human diseases in the clinic. 


Selected Publications:

1. Zhu J, Schwörer S, Berisa M, Kyung YJ, Ryu KW, Yi J, Jiang X, Cross JR, Thompson CB. Mitochondrial NADP(H) generation is essential for proline biosynthesis. Science. 2021 Apr 22:eabd5491. doi: 10.1126/science.abd5491. Online ahead of print.

2. Zhu J, Sammons MA, Donahue G, Dou Z, Vedadi M, Getlik M, Barsyte-Lovejoy D, Al-awar R, Katona BW, Shilatifard A, Huang J, Hua X, Arrowsmith CH, Berger SL. Gain-of-function p53 mutants co-opt chromatin pathways to drive cancer growth. Nature. 2015 Sep 10;525(7568):206-11. doi: 10.1038/nature15251

3. Zhu J, Berisa M, Schwörer S, Qin W, Cross JR, Thompson CB. Transsulfuration activity can support cell growth upon extracellular cysteine limitation. Cell Metabolism. 2019 Nov 5;30(5):865-876.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2019.09.009.

4. Zhu J, Dou Z, Sammons MA, Levine AJ, Berger SL. Lysine methylation represses p53 activity in teratocarcinoma cancer cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2016 Aug 17. pii: 201610387.

5. Zhu J, Thompson CB. Metabolic control of cell growth and proliferation. Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology. 2019 Apr 11. doi: 10.1038/s41580-019-0123-5. (Review article).

6. Yi J*, Zhu J* (equal contribution), Wu J, Thompson CB, Jiang X. Oncogenic activation of PI3K-AKT-mTOR signaling suppresses ferroptosis via SREBP-mediated lipogenesis. Proc Natl Acad Sci. 2020 Dec 8;117(49):31189-31197. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2017152117.

7. Sammons MA*, Zhu J* (equal contribution), Berger SL. A chromatin-focued siRNA screen for regulators of p53-dependent transcription. G3 (Genes Genomes Genetics). 2016 Aug 9;6(8):2671-8. doi: 10.1534/g3.116.031534

8. Schwörer S, Berisa M, Violante S, Qin W, Zhu J, Hendrickson RC, Cross JR, Thompson CB. Proline biosynthesis is a vent for TGF-b induced mitochondrial redox stress. EMBO J. 2020 Apr 15;39(8):e103334. doi: 10.15252/embj.2019103334.

9. Gao M, Yi J, Zhu J, Minikes AM, Monian P, Thompson CB, Jiang X. Role of mitochondria in ferroptosis. Molecular Cell. 2019 Jan 17;73(2):354-363.e3. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2018.10.042.

10. Dou Z, Ghosh K, Vizioli MG, Zhu J, Sen P, Wangensteen KJ, Simithy J, Lan Y, Lin Y, Zhou Z, Capell BC, Xu C, Xu M, Kieckhaefer JE, Jiang T, Shoshkes-Carmel M, Tanim KMAA, Barber GN, Seykora JT, Millar SE, Kaestner KH, Garcia BA, Adams PD, Berger SL. Cytoplasmic chromatin triggers inflammation in senescence and cancer. Nature. 2017 Oct 19;550(7676):402-406. doi: 10.1038/nature24050.

11. Dou Z, Xu C, Donahue G, Shimi T, Pan J-A, Zhu J, Ivanov A, Capell BC, Drake AM, Shah PP, Catanzaro JM, Ricketts MD, Lamark T, Adam SA, Marmorstein R, Zong W-X, Johansen T, Goldman RD, Adams PD, Berger SL. Autophagy mediates degradation of nuclear lamina. Nature. 2015 Nov 5;527(7576):105-9. doi: 10.1038/nature15548

12. Capell BC, Drake AM, Zhu J, Shah PP, Dorsey J, Dou Z, Simola DF, Donahue G, Sammons MA, Rai TS, Natale C, Ridky TW, Adams PD, Berger SL. MLL1 is essential for the senescence-associated secretory phenotype. Genes & Development. 2016 Feb 1;30(3):321-36. doi: 10.1101/gad.271882.115

13. Dikovskaya D, Cole JJ, Mason SM, Nixon C, Karim SA, McGarry L, Clarke W, Hewitt RN, Sammons MA, Zhu J, Wu H, Berger SL, Blyth K, Adams PD. Mitotic stress is an integral part of the oncogene-induced senescence program that promotes multinucleation and cell cycle arrest. Cell Reports. 2015 Sep 1;12(9):1483-96. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2015.07.055

14. Sammons MA, Zhu J, Drake AM, Berger SL. TP53 engagement with the genome occurs in distinct local chromatin environments via pioneer factor activity. Genome Research. 2015 Feb;25(2): 179-88.

15. Maxwell KN, Wubbenhorst B, D’Andrea K, Garman B, Long JM, Powers J, Rathbun K, Stopfer JE, Zhu J, Bradbury AR, Simon MS, DeMichele A, Domcheck SM, Nathanson KL. Prevalence of mutations in a panel of breast cancer susceptibility genes in BRCA1/2-negative patients with early-onset breast cancer. Genetics in Medicine. 2014 Dec 11.


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