Jie Zheng

image of Jie Zheng



Physiology and Membrane Biology

Offices and Labs

4145 Tupper Hall


1998 PhD Physiology Yale University
1991 MS Biophysics Peking University
1988 BS Physiology and Biophysics Peking University

Research Contribution

Editorial board member--Journal of General Physiology Editorial board member--Protein & Cell reviewer--NIH; BBSRC & MRC, United Kingdom; Italian Ministry of Health; Hong Kong Research Grants Council; Czech Science Foundation; Israel Science Foundation; National Natural Science Foundation of China; UC Davis School of Medicine Bridge Fund; UC Davis Cancer Center Pilot Grant; regular reviewer and co-chair, AHA study section.

Research Interests

ion channel gating mechanisms

Ion channels are membrane proteins that facilitate ion flux into or out of the cell or its organelles. They play critical roles in fundamental cellular functions such as neuronal signaling, muscle contraction, secretion, and fertilization. The long term goal of my research is to understand molecular mechanisms for opening (and closing) the ion permeation pathway in channels, and how this process is controlled by various physical and chemical stimuli. Malfunctions of ion channel activation due to genetic and pathological factors can lead to numerous human diseases, such as long QT syndrome, cystic fibrosis, epilepsy, schizophrenia and deficiency in learning and memory. Current research in my lab focuses on heat activation of some TRP channels that serve as biosensors for ambient temperature as well as noxious (painful) stimuli. We use multidisciplinary approaches to investigate the structural basis, functional properties, physiology as well as pathology of the highly temperature-dependent activation process.


Guanghua Scholarship, Beijing University, 1988
University Scholarship, Yale University, 1992-1995
Research Associate, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 2000-2003
UCD Health System Research Award, 2008-2009
the Grass Foundation Travelling Scientist Award, 2009

Department and Center Affiliations

Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology


Society for Neuroscience
Biophysical Society
Society of General Physiology
American Physiological Society
Chinese Neuroscience Society

CBS Grad Group Affiliations

Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology

Specialties / Focus

Molecular, Cellular, and Integrative Physiology
  • Molecular Physiology

Graduate Groups not Housed in CBS

Pharmacology and Toxicology


Current Member:
  • Fan Yang, PhD (postdoc)
  • Bo Hyun Lee, MS (graduate student)
  • Xian Xiao, PhD (postdoc)
  • Simon Vu (graduate student)
  • Ashlyn Downing (undergraduate student)
  • **postdoc/graduate student positions currently available
Previous lab members:
  • Chris Takanishi, PhD (UCD)
  • Katya Bykova, PhD (Amgen)
  • Wei Cheng, PhD (Associate Professor, Dalian University of Technology)
  • Ping Liang, PhD (Professor, Zhejiang University)
  • Yuanyuan Cui, PhD (UCD)
  • Xu Cao, PhD (NIH)
  • Linlin Ma, PhD (University of Queensland)
  • Yuan Zhao (Yale)
  • Wei Yang, PhD (Assoc. Professor, Zhejiang Univ.)
  • Shilong Yang (Chinese Academy of Sciences, Kunming Zoology Institute)


MCP 210A Advanced Physiology (Fall)
HPH 400 Physiology (Fall)
PTX 202 Principles of Pharmacology and Toxicology (Winter)


12/21/2016 12:26:57 PM
  • 65. Yang, F., and J. Zheng (2016) Understand spiciness: mechanism of TRPV1 channel activation by capsaicin, Protein & Cell, (in press)

  • 64. He, X. C. Shen, Q. Lu, J. Li, Y. Wei, L. He, R. Bai, J. Zheng, N. Luan, Z. Zhang, M. Rong, R. Lai (2016) Prokineticin 2 Plays a Pivotal Role in Psoriasis, EBioMedicine,  DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.10.022

  • 63. Ma, L., F. Yang, S. Vu, and J. Zheng (2016) Exploring functional roles of TRPV1 intracellular domains with unstructured peptide-insertion screening, Scientific Reports, 6:33827, DOI: 10.1038/srep33827

  • 62. Kim, S., D. Barry, X.Y. Liu, S. Yin, A. Munanairi, Q.T. Meng, W. Cheng, P. Mo, L. Wan, S.B. Liu, K. Ratnayake, Z. Q. Zhao, N. Gautam, J. Zheng, W.K.A. Karunarathne, and Z. F. Chen (2016) Facilitation of TRPV4 by TRPV1 is required for itch transmission in some sensory neuron populations, Science Signaling, 9(437): ra71

  • 61. Yang, F., S. Vu, V. Yarov-Yarovoy, and J. Zheng (2016) Rational design and validation of a vanilloid-sensitive TRPV2 ion channel, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, E3657–E3666

  • 60. Simonov, A.N., J.K. Holien, J.C.I. Yeung, A.D. Nguyen, C.J. Corbin, J. Zheng, V.L. Kuznetsov, R.J. Auchus, A.J. Conley, A.M. Bond, M.W. Parker, R.J. Rodgers, L.L. Martin (2015) Mechanistic scrutiny identifies a kinetic role for cytochrome b5 regulation of human cytochrome P450c17, PLoS One, 10(11): e0141252

  • 59. Yang, S., F. Yang, N. Wei, J. Hong, B. Li, L. Luo, M. Rong, V. Yarov-Yarovoy, J. Zheng¶, K.W. Wang¶, R. Lai¶ (2015) A pain-inducing centipede toxin targets the heat activation machinery of nociceptor TRPV1, Nature Communication, 6:8297 (¶ corresponding authors)

  • 58. Lee, B.H. and J. Zheng (2015), Proton Block of Proton-Activated TRPV1 Current, Journal of General Physiology, 146(2):147-159

  • 57. Yang, F., X. Xiao, W. Cheng, W. Yang, P. Yu, Z. Song, V. Yarov-Yarovoy, J. Zheng (2015) Structural mechanism underlying capsaicin binding and activation of nociceptive TRPV1 ion channel, Nature Chemical Biology, 11:518–524

  • 56. Jie Zheng and Matthew C. Trudeau (editors), Handbook of Ion Channels, CRC Press, 2015

    ** Review by Richard Aldrich (2015) A new standard: a review of Handbook of Ion Channels, Journal of General Physiology, 146(2):119-121

    ** Review by David R. Harder (2015) Physiologist, 58(4):205-208

    ** Review by Bingcai Guan, Zuan Zhou, Hailin Zhang (2015) Handbook of Ion Channels——一部系统介绍离子通道的新作问世, Acta Physiologica Sinica, 67(5)

  • 55. Clifton, H.L., B. Inceoglu, L. Ma, J. Zheng, S. Schaefer (2015) TRPV1 Channels are Involved in Niacin-induced Cutaneous Vasodilation in Mice, Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology, 65(2):184-191

  • 54. Ma, L., B.H. Lee, H. Clifton, S. Schaefer, and Jie Zheng (2015) Nicotinic acid is a common regulator of heat-sensing TRPV1-4 ion channels, Scientific Reports,  5:8906; DOI:10.1038/srep08906

  • 53. Zheng, J., X. Zeng, and S. Wang (2015) Calcium as cellular messenger, Science China Life Sciences, 58(1):1-5

  • 52. Zheng, J. and L. Ma (2014) Structure and Function of the ThermoTRP Channel Pore, Current Topics in Membranes, 74:233-257

  • 51. Tang, Y.Q., J.H. Zhou, F. Yang, J. Zheng, and K.W. Wang (2014) The tetramerization domain potentiates Kv4 channel function by suppressing closed-state inactivation, Biophysical Journal, 107: 1090-1104 

  • 50. Yang, F., and J. Zheng (2014) High temperature sensitivity is intrinsic to voltage-gated potassium channels, eLife, e03255

  • 49. Ma, L., B.H. Lee, R. Mao, A. Cai, Y. Jia, H. Clifton, S. Schaefer, L. Xu, and J. Zheng (2014) Nicotinic acid activates the capsaicin receptor TRPV1 - a potential mechanism for cutaneous flushing, Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis, and Vascular Biology, 34:1272-1280

    ·       Editorial highlight by Dr. Stefan Offermanns (2014) ATVB 34:1122-1123

  • 48. Ma, L., F. Yang, and J. Zheng (2014) Application of fluorescence resonance energy transfer in studies of biomolecules, Journal of Molecular Structure, 1077:87-100

  • 47. Yang, F., L. Ma, X. Cao, K.W. Wang, and J. Zheng (2014) Divalent cations activate TRPV1 through promoting conformational change of the extracellular region, Journal of General Physiology, 143(1): 91-103

  • 46. Cao, X., F. Yang, L. Ma, K.W. Wang, and J. Zheng (2014) Divalent cations potentiate TRPV1 channel by lowering the heat activation threshold, Journal of General Physiology, 143(1): 75-90

  • 45. Zheng, J. (2013) Domain-domain interactions in ion channel, Journal of General Physiology, 142(4): 347-350

  • 44. Zheng, J. (2013) Molecular mechanism of TRP channels, Comprehensive Physiology, 3:221-242

  • 43. Lei, L., X. Cao, F. Yang, D.-J. Shi, Y.-Q. Tang, J. Zheng and K.W. Wang (2013) A TRPV4 Channel C-Terminal Segment Plays a Critical Role in Protein Folding and Trafficking, Journal of Biological Chemistry 288: 10427-10439 (¶ corresponding authors)

  • 42. Zheng, J. and F. Yang (2013) Patch fluorometry (version 2), in: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (ELS), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester 

  • 41. Jin, B., H. Wulff, J. Widdicombe, J. Zheng, D. Bers, and J. Puglisi (2012) A Simple Device to Illustrate the Einthoven Triangle, Advances in Physiology Education, 36:319-324

  • 40. Cheng, W., J. Liu, C. Sun, and J. Zheng (2012) Temperature-Sensitive TRP Ion Channels as Drug Targets for Neuropathic Pain, Progress in Physiological Sciences, 43(2): 125-130

  • 39. Cao, X., F. Yang, J. Zheng, and K.W. Wang (2012) Intracellular proton-mediated activation of TRPV3 channels accounts for exfoliation effect of alpha hydroxyl acids on keratinocytes, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 287(31): 25905-25916   (¶ corresponding authors)

  • 38. Cui, Y., F. Yang, X. Cao, V. Yarov-Yarovoy, K.W. Wang, J. Zheng (2012) Selective disruption of high-sensitivity heat activation but not capsaicin activation of TRPV1 channels by pore turret mutations, Journal of General Physiology, 139 (4): 273-283

    ·       Featured on the cover

  • 37. Cheng, W., F. Yang, S. Liu, C.K. Colton, C. Wang, Y. Cui, X. Cao, M.X. Zhu, C. Sun, K.W. Wang, and J. Zheng (2012) Heteromeric Heat-Sensitive TRP Channels Exhibit Distinct Temperature and Chemical Response, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 287(10): 7279-7288

  • 36. Zhang, F., S. Liu, F. Yang, J. Zheng, K.W. Wang (2011) Identification of a tetrameric assembly domain in the C-terminus of heat-activated TRPV1 channels, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 286(17): 15308-15316     (¶ corresponding authors)

  • 35. Ma, L., G.Y. Rychkov, E.A. Bykova, J. Zheng, and A.H. Bretag (2011) Lateral displacement of hCLC-1 carboxyl termini during common gating and limits on their cytoplasmic location, Biochemical Journal, 436:415-428

  • 34. Yang, F., and J. Zheng (2011) Fluorescence microscopy in thermoTRP channel research, in: M.X. Zhu (Ed.) TRP Channels, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group: Boca Raton

  • 33. Dong, B., W. Cheng, W. Li, D. Wu, J. Zheng, F. Matsumura, C.F.A. Vogel (2011) FRET analysis of protein tyrosine kinase c-Src activation mediated via aryl hydrocarbon receptor, Biochimica et Biophysica Acta, 1810:427-451

  • 32. Yang, F., Y. Cui, K.W. Wang, and J. Zheng (2010) Thermosensitive TRP channel outer pore is part of the temperature activation pathway, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, 107:7083-7088

    ·       Highlighted in Cell (2010)141:377 and Faculty 1000 Biology

  • 31. Cheng, W., C. Sun, and J. Zheng (2010) Heteromerization of TRP channel subunits: extending functional diversity, Protein & Cell, 1(9):802-810

  • 30. Praporski, S., S.M. Ng, A.D. Nguyen, C. Corbin, A. Mechler, J. Zheng, A. Conley, and L. Martin (2009) Organization of enzymes involved in sex steroid synthesis: protein-protein interactions in lipid membranes, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284:33224-33232

  • 29. Liang, S.-S., F. Yang, C. Zhou, Y. Wang, S. Li, C.K. Sun, J.L. Puglisi, D. Bers, C. Sun, and J. Zheng (2009) Temperature-dependent activation of neurons by continuous near-infrared laser, Cell Biochemistry and Biophysics, 53(1): 33-42

  • 28. Qu, Z., W. Cheng, Y. Cui, Y. Cui, and J. Zheng (2009) Human disease-causing mutations disrupt an N-C terminal interaction and channel function of bestrophin 1, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284:16473-16481

  • 27. Sun, P., J. Wang, W. Gu, W. Cheng, G.-Z. Jin, E. Friedman, J. Zheng, and X. Zhen (2009) PSD-95 regulates D1 dopamine receptor resensitization, but not receptor-mediated Gs-protein activation, Cell Research, 19:612-624

  • 26. Qiu, S., X.-M. Zhang, J.-Y. Cao, W. Yang, Y.-G. Yan, L. Shan, J. Zheng, and J.-H. Luo (2009) An ER retention signal located in the extracellular amino-terminal domain of NR2A subunit of NMDA receptors, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 284:20285-20298

  • 25. Zheng, J., and K. Matulef (2009) Cyclic nucleotide-gated ion channels, in: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (ELS), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester

  • 23. Bykova, E.A. and J. Zheng (2009) Spectra FRET, a fluorescence resonance energy transfer method in live cells, In Annual Reviews in Fluorescence, Chapter 4, Springer

  • 22. Zheng, J. (2009) FRET and its biological application as a molecular ruler, in: Handbook of Modern Biophysics, Vol. 3: Biomedical Applications in Biophysics, Humana Press

  • 21. Vetter, I., W. Cheng, M. Peiris, B.D. Wyse, S.J. Roberts-Thomson, J. Zheng, G.R. Monteith, P.J. Cabot (2008) Rapid, opioid-sensitive mechanisms involved in transient receptor potential vanilloid 1 sensitization, Journal of Biological Chemistry, 283: 19540-19550

  • 20. Zheng, J. (2008) Patch fluorometry, in: Encyclopedia of Life Sciences (ELS), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd: Chichester

  • 19. Chen, T.Y., Y.F. Lin, and J. Zheng (2008) Electrophysiological measurements of membrane proteins, in T. Jue (Ed.) Handbook of Biophysics, Vol. 1: Fundamental Concepts in Biophysics, Chapter 5, Humana Press

  • 18. Gao, Y., S.S. Liu, S. Qiu, W. Cheng, J. Zheng, J.H. Luo (2007) Fluorescence resonance energy transfer analysis of subunit assembly of the ASIC channel, Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 359: 143-150

  • 17. Cheng, W., F. Yang, C.L. Takanishi, and J. Zheng (2007) Thermosensitive TRPV Channel Subunits Co-assemble into Heteromeric Channels with Intermediate Conductance and Gating Properties, Journal of General Physiology, 129: 191-207

    ·       Featured on the cover

  • 16. Bykova, E.A., X.D. Zhang, T.Y. Chen, and J. Zheng (2006) Large movement in the C terminus of CLC-0 chloride channel during slow gating, Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, 13: 1115-1119

  • 15. Takanishi, C.L., E.A. Bykova, W. Cheng, and J. Zheng (2006) Quantification of GFP-based FRET in live cells, Brain Research, 1091(1): 132-139

  • 14. Zheng, J. (2006) Patch fluorometry: shedding new light on ion channels, Physiology, 21: 6-12

  • 13. Zheng, J. (2006) Spectroscopy-based quantitative fluorescence resonance energy transfer analysis, Methods in Molecular Biology, 337: 65-78

  • 12. Zheng, J. and W.N. Zagotta (2004), Stoichiometry and assembly of olfactory cyclic nucleotide-gated channels, Neuron, 42: 411-421

  • 11. Zheng, J., and W.N. Zagotta (2003) Patch-clamp fluorometry recording of conformational rearrangements of ion channels, Science’s STKE, pl7

  • 10. Zheng, J., M.D. Varnum, and W.N. Zagotta (2003) Disruption of an intersubunit interaction underlies Ca2+-calmodulin modulation of cyclic nucleotide-gated channels, Journal of Neuroscience, 23(22): 8167-8175

  • 9. Zheng, J., M.C. Trudeau, and W.N. Zagotta (2002) Rod cyclic nucleotide-gated channels have a stoichiometry of three CNGA1 subunits and one CNGB1 subunit, Neuron, 36: 891-896

    ·       Commentary in Nature Review Neuroscience 4(1):10

    ·       Commentary in Neuron 36: 997-999

  • 8. Zheng, J., L. Venkataramanan, and F.J. Sigworth (2001) Hidden Markov model analysis of intermediate gating steps associated with the pore gate of Shaker potassium channels, Journal of General Physiology, 118: 547-562

  • 7. Zheng, J., and W.N. Zagotta (2000) Gating rearrangements in cyclic nucleotide-gated channels revealed by patch-clamp fluorometry, Neuron, 28: 369-374

  • 6. Zheng, J., and F.J. Sigworth (1998) Intermediate conductances during deactivation of heteromultimeric Shaker potassium channels, Journal of General Physiology, 112: 457-474

  • 5. Zheng, J., and F.J. Sigworth (1997) Selectivity changes during activation of mutant Shaker potassium channels, Journal of General Physiology, 110: 101-117 

    ·       Featured on the cover

  • 4. Mathur, R., J. Zheng, Y. Yan, and F.J. Sigworth (1997) Role of the S3-S4 linker in Shaker potassium channel activation, Journal of General Physiology, 109: 191-200

  • 3. Zhang, R.J., D.J. Zou, and J. Zheng (1995) Correlation of receptive field position of mechanosensory neurons and the strength of their connections to AP neurons in the CNS of the leech (Whitmania pigra), Invertebrate Neuroscience, 1: 249-254

  • 2. Zhang, R.J., D.J. Zou, J. Zheng, and W.H. Xiong (1992) Positional discrimination of the AP neuron synapses in the leech Whitmania pigra, Science in China, Series B, 12: 1287-1294

  • 1. Liu, K.Q., J. Zheng, Y.Q. Lu, Y.H. Zhang, and F. Liu (1991) Automatic analysis of single-channel records, Acta Biophysica Sinica, 7(3): 346-351