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Department of Physiology

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 Physiology Faculty

Zhengui (Patrick) Zheng
Assistant Professor
Ph.D. from Shanghai University of Traditional Chinese Medicine
Department of Physiology
Life Science III Rm 2081
Phone: (618) 453-8430
Office Hours: 8:30am - 4:30pm


  • PHSL 410B/511B Mammalian Physiology (Endocrinology unit)

Research Interests

A general feature of animals is the differentiation of the two sexes, both morphologically and behaviorally. It is well known that sexually dimorphic development begins at sex determination; in most mammals, male sexual development is established by the activity of a single transcription factor, SRY, that is located on the male-specific Y chromosome and acts as the testis-determination factor. However, most traits that distinguish the two sexes in vertebrates are not directly controlled by the sex-determining genes, rather, they develop secondarily and under the influence of the sex-specific hormones like androgen and estrogen. Male-specific traits, such as deer antlers, wattles of some bird species, swordtail fish's sword are regulated by testosterone or testosterone derivatives, whereas female-specific traits, such as mammary gland development in mammals and the suppression of colored plumage in some birds, are regulated by estrogen. Although the regulation of developmental control genes by steroid receptors is essential for the formation of sexually dimorphic traits, the identity of the target genes that control development of these specific traits remains largely unknown.

My research is applying the power of mouse genetics and genomics to problems of sexual differentiation in order to understand when, where and how sex steroids and their receptors interact with developmental gene networks to regulate sexually dimorphic development. In addition to my studies using mouse models, I have a strong interest to understand the developmental basis of sexual dimorphism in ecologically and evolutionarily interesting species. Here I describe 3 research interests.

1, Sexual dimorphic development of external genitalia: try to understand mechanism of congenital penile anomalies.
2, To understand how prenatal steroid hormone activity regulates sexually dimorphic limb and brain development and behavior.
3, Environmental regulation of sexual differentiation: role of environmental endocrine disrupting chemicals (e.g. in food and herbs) on sexually dimorphic organ development.

Selected Publications

Wang S, Zheng Z. (2018) Differential cell proliferation and cell death during the urethral groove formation in guinea pig model. Pediatr Res. Nov 22. doi: 10.1038/s41390-018-0236-0. [Epub ahead of print]

Wang S, Shi M, Zhu D, Mathews R, Zheng Z. (2018) External Genital Development, Urethra Formation, and Hypospadias Induction in Guinea Pig: A Double Zipper Model for Human Urethral Development. Urology. Mar;113:179-186. doi: 10.1016/j.urology.2017.11.002. Epub 2017 Nov 16.

Zhu D, Wang S, Lawless J, He J, Zheng Z. (2016) Dose Dependent Dual Effect of Baicalin and Herb Huang Qin Extract on Angiogenesis. PLoS One. 2016 Nov 30;11(11):e0167125. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0167125. eCollection 2016.

Armfield BA, Seifert AW, Zheng Z, Merton EM, Rock JR, Lopez MC, Baker HV, Cohn MJ. (2016) Molecular Characterization of the Genital Organizer: Gene Expression Profile of the Mouse Urethral Plate Epithelium. J Urol. Oct;196(4):1295-302. doi: 10.1016/j.juro.2016.04.091. Epub 2016 May 9.

Chen D, Kannan K, Tan H, Zheng Z, Feng YL, Wu Y, Widelka M. (2016) Bisphenol Analogues Other Than BPA: Environmental Occurrence, Human Exposure, and Toxicity-A Review. Environ Sci Technol. 2016 Jun 7;50(11):5438-53. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b05387. Epub 2016 May 17.

Environ Sci Technol. 2016 Jun 7;50(11):5438-53. doi: 10.1021/acs.est.5b05387. Epub 2016 May 17. Review

Zheng Z, Armfield BA, Cohn MJ (2015) Timing of androgen receptor disruption and estrogen exposure underlies a spectrum of congenital penile anomalies. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. Nov 23. pii: 201515981.

Armfield B, Zheng Z, Vinyard CJ, Thewissen JGM (2013) Developmental basis for the unique cetacean dentition. PeerJ, 2013; 1: e24 DOI: 10.7717/peerj.24

Zheng Z*, Guan H, Leal F, Grey PH and Oppenheimer DG* (2013) Mediator subunit18 controls flowering time and floral organ identity in Arabidopsis. Plos ONE 8(1): e53924.dol:10.1371/journal.pone.0053924. (*Corresponding author).

Zheng Z, Cohn MJ (2011) Developmental basis of sexually dimorphic digit ratios. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.108 (39):16289-94.

Guan H, Zheng Z, Gray P and Oppenheimer DG (2011) Conservation and divergence of plant LHP1 protein sequences and expression profiles in angiosperms and gymnosperms. Molecular Genetics and Genomics Vol 285, No.5, 357-373.

Seifert, AW**, Zheng Z**, Ormerod BK, and Cohn MJ (2010) Sonic hedgehog controls growth of external genitalia by regulating cell cycle kinetics. Nature Communications Jun 1;1(3):1-9. (** Co-first author).

Wijeratne AJ, Zhan W, Sun Y, Liu W, Albert R, Zheng Z, Oppenheimer, DG, Zhao D and Ma H (2007) Differential gene expression in Arabidopsis wild-type and mutant anthers: insights into anther cell differentiation and regulatory networks. The Plant Journal Oct;52(1): 14-29.

Park, SO, Zheng Z., Oppenheimer, DG. and Hauser, BA. (2005) The PRETTY FEW SEEDS 2 gene encodes an Arabidopsis homeodomain protein that regulates ovule development. Development 132:841-849.

Wang S, Zheng Z*, Weng Y, Fan W, Dai R, Hu Z (2004) Angiogenesis and anti-angiogenesis activity of Chinese medicinal herbal extracts. Life Sciences 74(20): 2467-78. (*Corresponding author).

Zheng Z, Wu M (2004) Cadmium treatment enhances the production of alkaloid secondary metabolites in Catharanthus roseus cells, Plant Science 166(2): 507-514.

Zheng Z*, Zhou, Y, Liu, D, Hu, Z (2002) Cell growth and ajmalicine accumulation in a full habituated Catharanthus roseus cell line C20hi. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 44(10): 1146-1150. (* Corresponding author).

Zheng Z*, Miao, H, Yang, W, Liu, D, Hu, Z (1999) Effects of nutritional and environmental factors on cell growth and ajmalicine production of full habituated Catharanthus roseus cells. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology 41(2): 184-189. (* Corresponding author).

Zheng Z*, Liu D, Hu Z (1998) Comparison of cell growth and alkaloid production of Catharanthus roseus cells cultured in shake flask and in bioreactor. Journal of Integrative Plant Biology, 40(1): 51-55. (*Corresponding author).