Rugang Zhang, Ph.D.

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Wistar Institute Associate Professor of Genetics
Department: Genetics
Graduate Group Affiliations

Contact information
The Wistar Institute
3601 Spruce Street
Room 308
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-495-6840
Anhui Normal University, Anhui, China, 1997.
Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China, 2002.
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Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests:

To understand the basic mechanisms underlying oncogene-induced senescence, an important tumor suppression mechanism.
To identify novel intervention strategies for epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC), the most lethal gynecological malignancy in the developed world.

Key Words:

Cellular Senescence, Tumor Suppression, Chromatin Structure, Metabolism, Epithelial Ovarian Cancer, Epigenetic Cancer Therapy, Wnt signaling, Targeted Cancer Therapy Resistance, Tissue Aging

Research Details:

The Zhang laboratory studies the mechanisms that underlie how normal mammalian cells age and how tumor cells evade the process and become transformed. In particular, his laboratory is interested in how alterations in epigenetics—heritable changes that affects gene expression without changes in the underlying DNA sequence—lead to the evasion of the aging process during tumor development. Understanding these mechanisms could lead to novel strategies for developing cancer therapeutics by forcing tumor cells into the aging process. His laboratory primarily focuses on ovarian cancer, which ranks first as the cause of death for gynecological cancers in the developed world.

Rotation Projects for 2013-2015

1. Molecular mechanism that reconciles the tumor-suppressing role of oncogene-induced senescence with the tumor-promoting nature of oncogene.
2. Molecular basis underlying the irreversibility of oncogene-induced senescence.
3. High throughput approaches for identification of small molecule modulators of senescence.
4. Senescence-associated epigenetic chromatin structure alterations.
5. Crosstalk between Wnt signaling and chromatin alterations in epithelial ovarian cancer.
6. Targeting polycomb repressive complex 2 in epithelial ovarian cancer.
7. Role of chromatin remodeling factors in epithelial ovarian cancer.

Lab personnel:

Zhigang Tu, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate
Benjamin Bitler, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (American Cancer Society)
Hua Li, M.D., Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate
Katherine Aird, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow (National Cancer Institute)
Michael Amatangelo, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate
Azat Garipov, M.S., Predoctoral Student

Selected Publications

Aird KM, Zhang G, Li H, Tu Z, Bitler BG, Garipov A, Wu H, Wei Z, Wagner SN, Herlyn M, Zhang R.: Suppression of Nucleotide Metabolism Underlies the Establishment and Maintenance of Oncogene-Induced Senescence. Cell Reports 2013 Notes: Accepted for publication.

Tu Z, Zhuang X, Yao YG, Zhang R.: BRG1 is required for formation of senescence-associated heterochromatin foci (SAHF) induced by oncogenic RAS or BRCA1 loss. Molecular and Cellular Biology 2013 Notes: Accepted for publication.

Garipov A, Li H, Bitler BG, Thapa RJ, Balachandran S, Zhang R.: NF-YA underlies EZH2 upregulation and is essential for proliferation of human epithelial ovarian cancer cells. Molecular Cancer Research In press, 2013.

Li H, Zhang R.: Role of EZH2 in epithelial ovarian cancer: from biological insights to therapeutic target Frontiers in Oncology: Women's Cancer 2013 Notes: Accepted for publication.

Li, H., Bitler, B. G., Vathipadiekal, V., Maradeo, M. E., Slifker, M., Creasy, C. L., Tummino, P. J., Cairns, P., Birrer, M. J., Zhang, R.: ALDH1A1 is a novel EZH2 target gene in epithelial ovarian cancer identified by genome-wide approaches. Cancer Prevention Research 5(3): 484-91, 2012.

Li H, Cai Q, Wu H, Vathipadiekal V, Dobbin ZC, Li T, Hua X, Landen CN, Birrer MJ, Sánchez-Beato M, Zhang R.: SUZ12 promotes human epithelial ovarian cancer by suppressing apoptosis via silencing HRK. Molecular Cancer Research 10(11): 1462-72, 2012.

Tu, Z., Aird, K. M., Bitler, B. G., Nicodemus, J. P., Beeharry, N., Xia, B., Yen, T. J., Zhang, R.: Oncogenic RAS regulates BRIP1 expression to induce dissociation of BRCA1 from chromatin, inhibit DNA repair, and promote senescence. Developmental Cell 21(6): 1077-91, 2011.

Bitler, B. G., Nicodemus, J. P., Li, H., Cai, Q., Wu, H., Hua, X., Li, T., Birrer, M. J., Godwin, A. K., Cairns, P., Zhang, R.: Wnt5a suppresses epithelial ovarian cancer by promoting cellular senescence. Cancer Research 71(19): 6184-94, 2011.

Kennedy, A. L., Morton, J. P., Manoharan, I., Nelson, D. M., Jamieson, N. B., Pawlikowski, J. S., McBryan, T., Doyle, B., McKay, C., Oien, K. A., Enders, G. H., Zhang, R., Sansom, O. J., Adams, P. D.: Activation of the PIK3CA/AKT pathway suppresses senescence induced by an activated RAS oncogene to promote tumorigenesis. Molecular Cell 42(1): 36-49, 2011.

Li, H., Cai, Q., Godwin, A. K., Zhang, R.: Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 promotes the proliferation and invasion of epithelial ovarian cancer cells. Molecular Cancer Research 8(12): 1610-8, 2010.

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Last updated: 02/23/2013
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