Center for Plant Cell Biology

Wenwan Zhong

Wenwan ZhongWenwan Zhong

Associate Professor

Mailing Address:

Physical Science 1 /334
University of California
Riverside, CA 92521

Phone: (951) 827-4925
Fax: (951) 827-4713
Email: wenwanz@ucr.edu


PhD 2003 Iowa State University
BS 1998 University of Sci. & Tech. of China

College/Division Affiliation:

College of Natural and Agricultural Sciences

Center/Inst Affiliation(s):

Center for Plant Cell Biology

Areas Of Expertise:

Bioanalytical Chemistry; Chromatographic Separation; High-throughput Screening; Biosensing

Awards / Honors:

2007 UC Riverside Regents’ Faculty Fellowship
2005 Los Alamos Achievement Award

Research Summary:

We aim to develop novel biotechnologies to tackle difficult problems encountered in biomedical research. Our work focuses on two major areas, bio-sensing and proteomics.


In most cases, biomolecules in interest exist at very low levels in biological samples, and sensitive and high-throughput biosening assays are highly demanded in the field of biomedical research. For example, accurate and early disease diagnosis requires sensitive detection of the pathogen occurrence at a very early infection stage for prompt therapeutic treatment and disease control. Moreover, the coexistence of multiple pathogen types or subtypes should be identified for the selection of appropriate treatment. Sensitive assays are also needed in disease prevention. Studying the profile of low abundant single nucleotide polymorphorisms in human genome is believed to be able to achieve valuable information in risk assessment and guiding the development of personal drugs and therapies. Moreover, fundamental research can build upon accurate and sensitive identification of biomolecules.  Endogenous small RNAs have emerged as important regulators of gene expression and genome maintenance, but they present at such a low level that they cannot be easily detected by conventional molecular biology techniques.  Many small RNAs are regulated in response to developmental and environmental cues, which requires quantitative examination of these small RNAs for their functional analysis. Therefore, a sensitive and quantitative small RNA detection method will be greatly beneficial for studying the function and regulation of these small RNAs.

Our group focuses on applying modern analytical technologies, like suspension array and chromatography, in the development sensitive and high-throughput assays for the detection of pathogens, DNA, RNA, and proteins.

1.1 Rolling circle amplification (RCA) – capillary electrophoresis (CE) Assay for DNA/RNA detection.
RCA is an isothermal DNA replication technique that generates a long single-stranded DNA with tandem repeats.  A circular DNA can be formed upon the DNA target, which is amplified by RCA. The product can be digested into monomers for CE analysis. Simultaneous detection of both the target DNA and the internal standard can be achieved by designing two padlock probes with different sizes, which could significantly improve the quantification accuracy.   The RCA-CE assay is compatible with a capillary array system to perform sensitive, high-throughput genetic screening.

2.2 Microsphere-based RCA assay for SNP detection
Compared to planar array on the flat surface, suspension array using microspheres as the solid support offers several advantages, such as fast reaction kinetics in liquid phase, high binding capacity on the micron-sized beads which have large surface area to volume ratios, and feasibility of mixing different array elements as required for individual tests. The microsphere-based assay presented here took advantage of the suspension array and amplified the SNP recognition events on the surface of microspheres by RCA before detection in a flow cytometer.

A novel design of using two differently labeled detection probes on the same microspheres to target both the wild-type and mutant samples allows parallel determination of the heterozygosity for two SNPs in PCR amplicons prepared from human genomic DNAs. This ability lays the groundwork for further enhancing the assay throughput by using multiple fluorophores and microspheres with distinct properties. 


2.    Proteomics: protein – protein interaction, protein complex/vesicles prefractionation and analysis, etc.

Viruses can pose clear and present dangers to human beings and our living environments. They often develop remarkable strategies to hijack cellular processes for the purpose of survival and continuous infection through interactions with cellular components.  Systematic study of virus-host interactions at the cellular level can provide valuable knowledge about viral pathogenicity and reveal effective antiviral strategies to fight with viruses. Because viral components would bind to cellular proteins, interrupt or vary their interactions with downstream molecules, and inhibit their normal functions, we plan to study the virus-host interaction through studying the involved protein complexes, aiming to identify complex composition and reveal changes induced by virus infection.

To assist with such investigations, we are currently developing a multiplexed affinity-based protein complex purification (MAPP) method. MAPP can isolate multiple protein complexes in one procedure with superior purity, improving the accuracy of protein composition analysis within different complexes, eliminating variations that may arise from different purification procedures, and diminishing sample loss.  On the other hand, MAPP can work with samples on a small scale.  The operational cost of using affinity-based purification can be lowered.

Selected Publications:

List of publications from HubMed and List of publications from Group Homepage

Lab Personnel:

Li, Jishan
Postdoctoral Researcher — Bioanalytical Chemistry
Li, Ni
Graduate Student — Bioanalytical Chemistry
Ren, Lei
Graduate Student — Environmental Toxicology
Yao, Jingjing
Graduate Student — Bioanalytical Chemistry

More Information

General Campus Information

University of California, Riverside
900 University Ave.
Riverside, CA 92521
Tel: (951) 827-1012

Career OpportunitiesUCR Libraries
Campus StatusDirections to UCR

Center Information

Center for Plant Cell Biology
Botany & Plant Sciences Department
2150 Batchelor Hall

Tel: (951) 827-7177
Fax: (951) 827-5155
E-mail: genomics@ucr.edu