Tongge Zhu

Ph.D., 2013, University of Science and Technology of China, China
Bachelor of Medicine, Basic Medical Sciences, Fudan University, China

Berkeley host: Professor Kunxin Luo

Research Summary

For my Ph.D. studies, I focused on chromosome instability and mitotic defect, which have been implicated in tumorigenesis for decades. My early studies revealed that perturbation of Histone-lysine N-methyltransferase SUV39H1 temporal dynamics blocks chromosome congression to the metaphase plate in living cells. My research also uncovered that Hec1 is a signaling hub coupling kinetochore-microtubule attachment to SAC signaling through its phosphorylation switch dual affinities with microtubule and Mps1.

Now, as a member of Prof. Kunxin Luo’s lab, I am interested in the signal transduction pathways that regulate development and cancer. I concentrate primarily on SnoN and the related Ski protein, which negatively regulate TGF-β signaling by binding to the Smad proteins. In addition to modulating TGF-β signaling, SnoN can also activate the p53 pathway in response to various cellular stress signals, through which it regulates aging, tumor progression, and tissue regeneration. I would like to employ in vitro mechanistic studies in tissue culture cells in combination with biological analyses using in vivo mouse models to explore the additional functions of SnoN and Ski and how they coordinate the actions of various signaling pathways in tumorigenesis and development.

Impact in China

Cancer is currently the leading cause of death in China, and the field of cancer research is growing rapidly, supported by large financial investments. Thanks to the Tang scholarship, I have the opportunity to join Prof. Kunxin Luo’s lab and gain experience at UC Berkeley. In the future, I hope to contribute to the basic cancer research and use this basic knowledge to develop innovative cancer treatments in China.


Wang X, Yu H, Xu L, Zhu T, Zheng F, Fu C, Wang Z, and Dou Z. (2014). Dynamic autophosphorylation of mps1 kinase is required for faithful mitotic progression. PloS one 9, e104723.

Zhu T*, Dou Z*, Qin B, Jin C, Wang X, Xu L, Wang Z, Zhu L, Liu F, Gao X, Ke Y, Wang Z, Aikhionbare F, Fu C, Ding X and Yao X. (2013). Phosphorylation of microtubule-binding protein Hec1 by mitotic kinase Aurora B specifies spindle checkpoint kinase Mps1 signaling at the kinetochore. J Biol Chem 288(50): 36149-36159.

Zhang L*, Shao H*, Zhu T, Xia P, Wang Z, Liu L, Yan M, Hill DL, Fang G, Chen Z, Wang D and Yao X. (2013). DDA3 associates with microtubule plus ends and orchestrates microtubule dynamics and directional cell migration. Sci Rep 3: 1681.

Zhao X, Wang D, Liu X, Liu L, Song, Z, Zhu T, Adams G, Gao X, Tian R, Huang Y, Chen R, Wang F, Liu D, Yu X, Chen Y, Chen Z, Teng M, Ding X and Yao X. (2013). Phosphorylation of the Bin, Amphiphysin, and RSV161/167 (BAR) domain of ACAP4 regulates membrane tubulation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110(27): 11023-11028.

Chu L*, Zhu T*, Liu X, Yu R, Bacanamwo M, Dou Z, Chu Y, Zou H, Gibbons GH, Wang D, Ding X and Yao X. (2012). SUV39H1 orchestrates temporal dynamics of centromeric methylation essential for faithful chromosome segregation in mitosis. J Mol Cell Biol 4(5): 331-340.

Yuan K, Li N, Jiang K, Zhu T, Huo Y, Wang C, Lu J, Shaw A, Thomas K, Zhang J, Mann D, Liao J, Jin C and Yao X. (2009) PinX1 is a novel microtubule-binding protein essential for accurate chromosome segregation. J Biol Chem 284(34): 23072-23082.

[*Co-first authors]