Neuronal communication is mediated primarily by chemical transmission across synapses. At presynaptic terminals, proper transmission requires not only exocytosis of synaptic vesicles but also their rapid replenishment by endocytosis. The goal of Dr. Zhang's laboratory is to elucidate molecular mechanisms of the latter process, synaptic vesicle recycling. Specifically, Dr. Zhang is interested in understanding how synaptic vesicle endocytosis is initiated and regulated, how synaptic vesicles are reformed, and how recycling affects exocytosis and synaptic plasticity. To address these questions, Dr. Zhang is using the fruit fly Drosophila as a model system to reveal in vivo functions of endocytic proteins through mutational analysis of their genes. This genetic approach is complemented with molecular biology, cell biology, optical imaging, and electrophysiology.
The current focus of Dr. Zhang's laboratory is to investigate the roles of two clathrin-binding proteins in synaptic vesicle recycling and synaptic plasticity: LAP (a homolog of mammalian AP180) and LQF (an EPSIN homolog, through collaboration with Dr. Janice Fischer). In addition, GFP-tagged transgenic flies are used to study the dynamics of synaptic vesicle trafficking. Several temperature-sensitive paralytic mutants are also being characterized in order to uncover novel molecules important for synaptic functions. Students will have the opportunity to receive training in multiple disciplines by performing independent research.

Recent Publications
B. Zhang, Y. H. Koh, R. B., Beckstead, V. Budnick, B. Ganetzsky, and H. J. Bellen (1998) Synaptic vesicle size and number are regulated by a clathrin adaptor protein required for endocytosis. Neuron 21:1465-1475.

B. Zhang, B. Ganetzky, H. J. Bellen, and V. N. Murthy (1999) Tailoring uniform coats for synaptic vesicles during endocytosis. Neuron 23:419-422.

B. Zhang and M. Ramaswami (1999) Synaptic vesicle endocytosis and recycling. In: Frontiers in Molecular Biology: Neurotransmitter Release, H. Bellen, ed. Oxford University Press, London. pp. 389-431.

Yuxin Mao, Jue Chen, Jennifer A. Maynard, Bing Zhang, and Florante A. Quiocho (2001). A novel all helix fold of the AP180 amino-terminal domain for phosphoinositide binding and clathrin assembly in synaptic vesicle endocytosis. Cell 104:433-440.

A. C. Zelhof, H. Bao, R.W. Hardy, A. Razzaq, B. Zhang, and C.Q. Doe.(2001). Drosophila Amphiphysin is implicated in protein localization and membrane morphogenesis but not in synaptic vesicle endocytosis. Development 128 :5005-15.

X. Chen, B. Zhang, and J.A. Fischer. (2002). A specific protein substrate for a deubiquitinating enzyme: Liquid facets is the substrate of Fat facets. Genes Dev.16: 289-94.

G. Marqués, H. Bao, T. E. Haerry, M. J. Shimell, P. Duchek, B. Zhang, and M. B. O'Connor. (2002). The Drosophila BMP Type II Receptor Wishful Thinking Regulates Neuromuscular Synapse Morphology and Function. Neuron 33: 529-543.

Honors and Awards

•NIH Pre-doctoral Training Fellow, 1994 - 1995
•NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1995 - 1997 (second year declined)
•ACS Postdoctoral Fellowship, 1996 - 1999
•Postdoctoral Associate Award, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 1999