Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Science, China Agricultural University (2006)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, China Agricultural University (2011)

Stanford Advisors

All Publications

  • The lysosomal membrane protein SCAV-3 maintains lysosome integrity and adult longevity. journal of cell biology Li, Y., Chen, B., Zou, W., Wang, X., Wu, Y., Zhao, D., Sun, Y., Liu, Y., Chen, L., Miao, L., Yang, C., Wang, X. 2016; 215 (2): 167-185


    Lysosomes degrade macromolecules and recycle metabolites as well as being involved in diverse processes that regulate cellular homeostasis. The lysosome is limited by a single phospholipid bilayer that forms a barrier to separate the potent luminal hydrolases from other cellular constituents, thus protecting the latter from unwanted degradation. The mechanisms that maintain lysosomal membrane integrity remain unknown. Here, we identified SCAV-3, the Caenorhabditis elegans homologue of human LIMP-2, as a key regulator of lysosome integrity, motility, and dynamics. Loss of scav-3 caused rupture of lysosome membranes and significantly shortened lifespan. Both of these phenotypes were suppressed by reinforced expression of LMP-1 or LMP-2, the C. elegans LAMPs, indicating that longevity requires maintenance of lysosome integrity. Remarkably, reduction in insulin/insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) signaling suppressed lysosomal damage and extended the lifespan in scav-3(lf) animals in a DAF-16-dependent manner. Our data reveal that SCAV-3 is essential for preserving lysosomal membrane stability and that modulation of lysosome integrity by the insulin/IGF-1 signaling pathway affects longevity.

    View details for PubMedID 27810910

  • A multi-protein receptor-ligand complex underlies combinatorial dendrite guidance choices in C. elegans. eLife Zou, W., Shen, A., Dong, X., Tugizova, M., Xiang, Y. K., Shen, K. 2016; 5


    Ligand receptor interactions instruct axon guidance during development. How dendrites are guided to specific targets is less understood. The C. elegans PVD sensory neuron innervates muscle-skin interface with its elaborate dendritic branches. Here, we found that LECT-2, the ortholog of leukocyte cell-derived chemotaxin-2 (LECT2), is secreted from the muscles and required for muscle innervation by PVD. Mosaic analyses showed that LECT-2 acted locally to guide the growth of terminal branches. Ectopic expression of LECT-2 from seam cells is sufficient to redirect the PVD dendrites onto seam cells. LECT-2 functions in a multi-protein receptor-ligand complex that also contains two transmembrane ligands on the skin, SAX-7/L1CAM and MNR-1, and the neuronal transmembrane receptor DMA-1. LECT-2 greatly enhances the binding between SAX-7, MNR-1 and DMA-1. The activation of DMA-1 strictly requires all three ligands, which establishes a combinatorial code to precisely target and pattern dendritic arbors.

    View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.18345

    View details for PubMedID 27705746

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5079751

  • Precise regulation of the guidance receptor DMA-1 by KPC-1/Furin instructs dendritic branching decisions. eLife Dong, X., Chiu, H., Park, Y. J., Zou, W., Zou, Y., Özkan, E., Chang, C., Shen, K. 2016; 5


    Extracellular adhesion molecules and their neuronal receptors guide the growth and branching of axons and dendrites. Growth cones are attracted to intermediate targets, but they must switch their response upon arrival so that they can move away and complete the next stage of growth. Here, we show that KPC-1, a C. elegans Furin homolog, regulates the level of the branching receptor DMA-1 on dendrites by targeting it to late endosomes. In kpc-1 mutants, the level of DMA-1 is abnormally high on dendrites, resulting in trapping of dendrites at locations where a high level of the cognate ligand, the adhesion molecule SAX-7/L1, is present. The misregulation of DMA-1 also causes dendritic self-avoidance defects. Thus, precise regulation of guidance receptors creates flexibility of responses to guidance signals and is critical for neuronal morphogenesis.

    View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.11008

    View details for PubMedID 26974341

  • The unfolded protein response is required for dendrite morphogenesis. eLife Wei, X., Howell, A. S., Dong, X., Taylor, C. A., Cooper, R. C., Zhang, J., Zou, W., Sherwood, D. R., Shen, K. 2015; 4


    Precise patterning of dendritic fields is essential for the formation and function of neuronal circuits. During development, dendrites acquire their morphology by exuberant branching. How neurons cope with the increased load of protein production required for this rapid growth is poorly understood. Here we show that the physiological unfolded protein response (UPR) is induced in the highly branched Caenorhabditis elegans sensory neuron PVD during dendrite morphogenesis. Perturbation of the IRE1 arm of the UPR pathway causes loss of dendritic branches, a phenotype that can be rescued by overexpression of the ER chaperone HSP-4 (a homolog of mammalian BiP/grp78). Surprisingly, a single transmembrane leucine-rich repeat protein, DMA-1, plays a major role in the induction of the UPR and the dendritic phenotype in the UPR mutants. These findings reveal a significant role for the physiological UPR in the maintenance of ER homeostasis during morphogenesis of large dendritic arbors.

    View details for DOI 10.7554/eLife.06963

    View details for PubMedID 26052671

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC4484204

  • RAB-10-Dependent Membrane Transport Is Required for Dendrite Arborization. PLoS genetics Zou, W., Yadav, S., DeVault, L., Nung Jan, Y., Sherwood, D. R. 2015; 11 (9): e1005484


    Formation of elaborately branched dendrites is necessary for the proper input and connectivity of many sensory neurons. Previous studies have revealed that dendritic growth relies heavily on ER-to-Golgi transport, Golgi outposts and endocytic recycling. How new membrane and associated cargo is delivered from the secretory and endosomal compartments to sites of active dendritic growth, however, remains unknown. Using a candidate-based genetic screen in C. elegans, we have identified the small GTPase RAB-10 as a key regulator of membrane trafficking during dendrite morphogenesis. Loss of rab-10 severely reduced proximal dendritic arborization in the multi-dendritic PVD neuron. RAB-10 acts cell-autonomously in the PVD neuron and localizes to the Golgi and early endosomes. Loss of function mutations of the exocyst complex components exoc-8 and sec-8, which regulate tethering, docking and fusion of transport vesicles at the plasma membrane, also caused proximal dendritic arborization defects and led to the accumulation of intracellular RAB-10 vesicles. In rab-10 and exoc-8 mutants, the trans-membrane proteins DMA-1 and HPO-30, which promote PVD dendrite stabilization and branching, no longer localized strongly to the proximal dendritic membranes and instead were sequestered within intracellular vesicles. Together these results suggest a crucial role for the Rab10 GTPase and the exocyst complex in controlling membrane transport from the secretory and/or endosomal compartments that is required for dendritic growth.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1005484

    View details for PubMedID 26394140

  • PtdIns(4,5)P2 and PtdIns3P coordinate to regulate phagosomal sealing for apoptotic cell clearance. The Journal of cell biology Cheng, S., Wang, K., Zou, W., Miao, R., Huang, Y., Wang, H., Wang, X. 2015; 210 (3): 485–502


    Phagocytosis requires phosphoinositides (PIs) as both signaling molecules and localization cues. How PIs coordinate to control phagosomal sealing and the accompanying switch of organelle identity is unclear. In this study, we followed dynamic changes in PIs during apoptotic cell clearance in Caenorhabditis elegans. We found that phosphatidylinositol-4,5-bisphosphate (PtdIns(4,5)P2) and phosphatidylinositol-3-phosphate (PtdIns3P), which accumulate transiently on unsealed and fully sealed phagosomes, respectively, are both involved in phagosome closure. We identified PtdIns3P phosphatase MTM-1 as an effector of PtdIns(4,5)P2 to promote phagosomal sealing. MTM-1 coordinates with the class II PI3 kinase PIKI-1 to control PtdIns3P levels on unsealed phagosomes. The SNX9 family protein LST-4 is required for sealing, and its association with unsealed phagosomes is regulated by PtdIns(4,5)P2, PIKI-1, and MTM-1. Loss of LST-4 or its retention on phagosomes disrupts sealing and suppresses PtdIns3P accumulation, indicating close coupling of the two events. Our findings support a coincidence detection mechanism by which phagosomal sealing is regulated and coupled with conversion from PtdIns(4,5)P2 enrichment on unsealed phagosomes to PtdIns3P enrichment on fully sealed phagosomes.

    View details for DOI 10.1083/jcb.201501038

    View details for PubMedID 26240185

  • PI3P phosphatase activity is required for autophagosome maturation and autolysosome formation. EMBO reports 2014


    Autophagosome formation is promoted by the PI3 kinase complex and negatively regulated by myotubularin phosphatases, indicating that regulation of local phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns3P) levels is important for this early phase of autophagy. Here, we show that the Caenorhabditis elegans myotubularin phosphatase MTM-3 catalyzes PtdIns3P turnover late in autophagy. MTM-3 acts downstream of the ATG-2/EPG-6 complex and upstream of EPG-5 to promote autophagosome maturation into autolysosomes. MTM-3 is recruited to autophagosomes by PtdIns3P, and loss of MTM-3 causes increased autophagic association of ATG-18 in a PtdIns3P-dependent manner. Our data reveal critical roles of PtdIns3P turnover in autophagosome maturation and/or autolysosome formation.

    View details for DOI 10.15252/embr.201438618

    View details for PubMedID 25124690

  • Clathrin and AP2 Are Required for Phagocytic Receptor-Mediated Apoptotic Cell Clearance in Caenorhabditis elegans PLOS GENETICS Chen, D., Jian, Y., Liu, X., Zhang, Y., Liang, J., Qi, X., Du, H., Zou, W., Chen, L., Chai, Y., Ou, G., Miao, L., Wang, Y., Yang, C. 2013; 9 (5)


    Clathrin and the multi-subunit adaptor protein complex AP2 are central players in clathrin-mediated endocytosis by which the cell selectively internalizes surface materials. Here, we report the essential role of clathrin and AP2 in phagocytosis of apoptotic cells. In Caenorhabditis elegans, depletion of the clathrin heavy chain CHC-1 and individual components of AP2 led to a significant accumulation of germ cell corpses, which resulted from defects in both cell corpse engulfment and phagosome maturation required for corpse removal. CHC-1 and AP2 components associate with phagosomes in an inter-dependent manner. Importantly, we found that the phagocytic receptor CED-1 interacts with the α subunit of AP2, while the CED-6/Gulp adaptor forms a complex with both CHC-1 and the AP2 complex, which likely mediates the rearrangement of the actin cytoskeleton required for cell corpse engulfment triggered by the CED-1 signaling pathway. In addition, CHC-1 and AP2 promote the phagosomal association of LST-4/Snx9/18/33 and DYN-1/dynamin by forming a complex with them, thereby facilitating the maturation of phagosomes necessary for corpse degradation. These findings reveal a non-classical role of clathrin and AP2 and establish them as indispensable regulators in phagocytic receptor-mediated apoptotic cell clearance.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003517

    View details for Web of Science ID 000320030000035

    View details for PubMedID 23696751

  • Autophagy genes promote apoptotic cell corpse clearance AUTOPHAGY Zou, W., Wang, X., Vale, R. D., Ou, G. 2012; 8 (8): 1267-1268


    Autophagy is a catabolic process through which damaged organelles and protein aggregates are delivered to lysosomes for degradation. Autophagy genes are reported to promote exposure of "eat me" signals on the surface of apoptotic cells, but whether they function in engulfing cells is not clear. Recently, we found that the autophagy mutants atg-18 and epg-5 are defective in removing apoptotic cells derived from the C. elegans Q neuroblast, a phenotype that can be fully rescued by expression of ATG-18 and EPG-5 in the engulfing cell. Loss of ATG-18 or EPG-5 does not affect cell corpse engulfment but causes defects in phagosomal recruitment of RAB-5 and RAB-7 and formation of phagolysosomes. EPG-5, ATG-18 and LGG-1 are sequentially recruited to phagosomes, suggesting that they function at different steps of phagosomal maturation. Our studies indicate that autophagy genes function sequentially to promote apoptotic cell corpse degradation in the engulfing cell.

    View details for DOI 10.4161/auto.20786

    View details for Web of Science ID 000308505200015

    View details for PubMedID 22653037

  • Autophagy genes function sequentially to promote apoptotic cell corpse degradation in the engulfing cell JOURNAL OF CELL BIOLOGY Li, W., Zou, W., Yang, Y., Chai, Y., Chen, B., Cheng, S., Tian, D., Wang, X., Vale, R. D., Ou, G. 2012; 197 (1): 27-35


    Apoptotic cell degradation is a fundamental process for organism development, and impaired clearance causes inflammatory or autoimmune disease. Although autophagy genes were reported to be essential for exposing the engulfment signal on apoptotic cells, their roles in phagocytes for apoptotic cell removal are not well understood. In this paper, we develop live-cell imaging techniques to study apoptotic cell clearance in the Caenorhabditis elegans Q neuroblast lineage. We show that the autophagy proteins LGG-1/LC3, ATG-18, and EPG-5 were sequentially recruited to internalized apoptotic Q cells in the phagocyte. In atg-18 or epg-5 mutants, apoptotic Q cells were internalized but not properly degraded; this phenotype was fully rescued by the expression of autophagy genes in the phagocyte. Time-lapse analysis of autophagy mutants revealed that recruitment of the small guanosine triphosphatases RAB-5 and RAB-7 to the phagosome and the formation of phagolysosome were all significantly delayed. Thus, autophagy genes act within the phagocyte to promote apoptotic cell degradation.

    View details for DOI 10.1083/jcb.201111053

    View details for Web of Science ID 000302476600006

    View details for PubMedID 22451698

  • Endocytic Sorting and Recycling Require Membrane Phosphatidylserine Asymmetry Maintained by TAT-1/CHAT-1 PLOS GENETICS Chen, B., Jiang, Y., Zeng, S., Yan, J., Li, X., Zhang, Y., Zou, W., Wang, X. 2010; 6 (12)


    Endocytic sorting is achieved through the formation of morphologically and functionally distinct sub-domains within early endosomes. Cargoes destined for recycling are sorted to and transported through newly-formed tubular membranes, but the processes that regulate membrane tubulation are poorly understood. Here, we identified a novel Caenorhabditis elegans Cdc50 family protein, CHAT-1, which acts as the chaperone of the TAT-1 P4-ATPase to regulate membrane phosphatidylserine (PS) asymmetry and endocytic transport. In chat-1 and tat-1 mutants, the endocytic sorting process is disrupted, leading to defects in both cargo recycling and degradation. TAT-1 and CHAT-1 colocalize to the tubular domain of the early endosome, the tubular endocytic recycling compartment (ERC), and the recycling endosome where PS is enriched on the cytosolic surface. Loss of tat-1 and chat-1 function disrupts membrane PS asymmetry and abrogates the tubular membrane structure. Our data suggest that CHAT-1 and TAT-1 maintain membrane phosphatidylserine asymmetry, thus promoting membrane tubulation and regulating endocytic sorting and recycling.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1001235

    View details for Web of Science ID 000285578900013

    View details for PubMedID 21170358

  • Caenorhabditis elegans Myotubularin MTM-1 Negatively Regulates the Engulfment of Apoptotic Cells PLOS GENETICS Zou, W., Lu, Q., Zhao, D., Li, W., Mapes, J., Xie, Y., Wang, X. 2009; 5 (10)


    During programmed cell death, apoptotic cells are recognized and rapidly engulfed by phagocytes. Although a number of genes have been identified that promote cell corpse engulfment, it is not well understood how phagocytosis of apoptotic cells is negatively regulated. Here we have identified Caenorhabditis elegans myotubularin MTM-1 as a negative regulator of cell corpse engulfment. Myotubularins (MTMs) constitute a large, highly conserved family of lipid phosphatases. MTM gene mutations are associated with various human diseases, but the cellular functions of MTM proteins are not clearly defined. We found that inactivation of MTM-1 caused significant reduction in cell corpses in strong loss-of-function mutants of ced-1, ced-6, ced-7, and ced-2, but not in animals deficient in the ced-5, ced-12, or ced-10 genes. In contrast, overexpression of MTM-1 resulted in accumulation of cell corpses. This effect is dependent on the lipid phosphatase activity of MTM-1. We show that loss of mtm-1 function accelerates the clearance of cell corpses by promoting their internalization. Importantly, the reduction of cell corpses caused by mtm-1 RNAi not only requires the activities of CED-5, CED-12, and CED-10, but also needs the functions of the phosphatidylinositol 3-kinases (PI3Ks) VPS-34 and PIKI-1. We found that MTM-1 localizes to the plasma membrane in several known engulfing cell types and may modulate the level of phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate (PtdIns(3)P) in vivo. We propose that MTM-1 negatively regulates cell corpse engulfment through the CED-5/CED-12/CED-10 module by dephosphorylating PtdIns(3)P on the plasma membrane.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000679

    View details for Web of Science ID 000272032100017

    View details for PubMedID 19816564

  • C-elegans Rab GTPase activating protein TBC-2 promotes cell corpse degradation by regulating the small GTPase RAB-5 DEVELOPMENT Li, W., Zou, W., Zhao, D., Yan, J., Zhu, Z., Lu, J., Wang, X. 2009; 136 (14): 2445-2455


    During apoptosis, dying cells are quickly internalized by neighboring cells or phagocytes, and are enclosed in phagosomes that undergo a maturation process to generate the phagoslysosome, in which cell corpses are eventually degraded. It is not well understood how apoptotic cell degradation is regulated. Here we report the identification and characterization of the C. elegans tbc-2 gene, which is required for the efficient degradation of cell corpses. tbc-2 encodes a Rab GTPase activating protein (GAP) and its loss of function affects several events of phagosome maturation, including RAB-5 release, phosphatidylinositol 3-phosphate dynamics, phagosomal acidification, RAB-7 recruitment and lysosome incorporation, which leads to many persistent cell corpses at various developmental stages. Intriguingly, the persistent cell corpse phenotype of tbc-2 mutants can be suppressed by reducing gene expression of rab-5, and overexpression of a GTP-locked RAB-5 caused similar defects in phagosome maturation and cell corpse degradation. We propose that TBC-2 functions as a GAP to cycle RAB-5 from an active GTP-bound to an inactive GDP-bound state, which is required for maintaining RAB-5 dynamics on phagosomes and serves as a switch for the progression of phagosome maturation.

    View details for DOI 10.1242/dev.035949

    View details for Web of Science ID 000267218500014

    View details for PubMedID 19542357