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Nianshu Zhang

Cellular ageing studies in yeast

Ageing (and hence longevity) is intimately related to the ability of an organism to cope with both intrinsic and extrinsic stresses. Nutrient starvation is one of the common but major stresses for all organisms. We use Saccharomyces cerevisiae as a model to understand how eukaryotic cells regulate starvation-specific gene expression and how this regulation impacts on quiescence exit and cell survival (chronological aging).


Currently, two complementary approaches are adopted to address the issue. One is to reveal the genetic interaction network governing stress response and chronological ageing. The other is to elucidate the mechanisms by which the nutrient starvation signals are transmitted and converged to activate the stress response and the acquisition of other quiescence-related features, including exit from the cell cycle and cell size homeostasis. Furthermore, the knowledge gained from both approaches is being applied to develop novel expression and fermentation systems for biotechnology.

Lab Members: Leonardo Mancini; Lu Cao, Fiona Tang, and Nyasha Munjoma

Collaborators: Jules Griffin (CSBC); Hui Lu (University of Manchester); Steve Oliver (CSBC); and Yanchun Yan (Chinese Academy of Agricultural Sciences).


Key recent publications: 

  1. Quan Z, Cao L, Tang Y, Yan Y, Oliver SG, Zhang N. (2015) The Yeast GSK-3 Homologue Mck1 Is a Key Controller of Quiescence Entry and Chronological Lifespan.PLoS Genet. 11(6):e1005282. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005282.

  2. Zhang N, Quan Z, Rash B, Oliver SG. (2013) Synergistic effects of TOR and proteasome pathways on the yeast transcriptome and cell growth. Open Biol. 3(5):120137. doi: 10.1098/rsob.120137.

  3. Zhang N and Oliver SG (2010) The transcription activity of Gis1 is modulated by proteasome-mediated limited proteolysis. J. Biol. Chem. 285: 6465-6476.