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Zhe Sun, PhD

Assistant Research Professor, Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center
Office Location: 250 DCRC
Office Phone: 573-884-2499

Research Interests

  • Biomechanics and cell contractile process of vascular smooth muscle
  • N-cadherin- and integrin-mediated mechanotransduction in vascular smooth muscle cells
  • Modulation of the myogenic tone of arterioles

Research Description

Sun's primary interest is in development of novel techniques towards understanding the dynamics of cellular interactions with the extracellular matrix (ECM). The goal is to access the cellular dynamics from both biochemical and biophysical perspectives in real-time, for example to monitor the intracellular signaling, cell adhesion with extracellular matrix proteins and the cellular mechanical activities etc.

The approaches used include live cell fluorescence imaging and FRET to monitor cellular signaling events and specific molecular interactions, and atomic force microscopy (AFM) methods to monitor the cellular mechanical activities and the interaction force between cell and ECM (usually falls in pN~nN range). As an integrated part of these studies, Sun is also interested in developing software for image processing, data analysis and computational modeling of the cellular force transmission. By integrating these techniques together, the understanding of the nature of the cell-ECM interactions will be furthered.

Professional Background

  • Obtained a PhD in bioengineering, University of Toledo, Ohio, August 2000.
  • Obtained a MS in chemical engineering, Sichuan Union University, China, July 1996.
  • Obtained a BS in chemical engineering, Chengdu University of Science & Technology, China, July 1993.

Selected Publications

  1. Sun Z, Parrish AR, Hill MA, Meininger GA, N-cadherin, a vascular smooth muscle cell-cell adhesion molecule: function and signaling for vasomotor control.. Microcirculation. 2014 Apr;21(3):208-18. PMID:24521477
  2. Hong Z, Sun Z, Li M, Li Z, Bunyak F, Ersoy I, Trzeciakowski JP, Staiculescu MC, Jin M, Martinez-Lemus L, Hill MA, Palaniappan K, Meininger GA. Vasoactive agonists exert dynamic and coordinated effects on vascular smooth muscle cell elasticity, cytoskeletal remodelling and adhesion. J Physiol. 2014 Mar 15;592(Pt 6):1249-66. Epub 2014 Jan 20.PMID:24445320[PubMed - in process]
  3. Aroor AR, Demarco VG, Jia G, Sun Z, Nistala R, Meininger GA, Sowers JR. The Role of Tissue Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System in the Development of Endothelial Dysfunction and Arterial Stiffness. Front Endocrinol (Lausanne). 2013 Oct 29;4:161.. Review.PMID: 24194732   
  4. Sehgel NL, Zhu Y, Sun Z, Trzeciakowski JP, Hong Z, Hunter WC, Vatner DE, Meininger GA, Vatner SF. Increased vascular smooth muscle cell stiffness: a novel mechanism for aortic stiffness in hypertension. Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2013, Nov; 305(9):H1281-7. PMID: 23709594
  5. Askarova S, Sun Z, Sun GY, Meininger GA, Lee JC. Amyloid-β peptide on sialyl-Lewis(X)-selectin-mediated membrane tether mechanics at the cerebral endothelial cell surface. PLoS One. 2013 Apr 12;8(4):e60972. Print 2013. PMID: 23593361
  6. Sun Z*, Huang S*, Li Z, Meininger GA. Zyxin is involved in regulation of mechanotransduction in arteriole smooth muscle cells. Front Physiol. 2012 Dec 20;3:472. PMID: 23267329
  7. Hong Z, Ersoy I, Sun M, Bunyak F, Hampel P, Hong Z, Sun Z, Li Z, Levitan I, Meininger GA, Palaniappan K. Influence of membrane cholesterol and substrate elasticity on endothelial cell spreading behavior. J Biomed Mater Res A. 2013 Jul;101(7):1994-2004. Epub 2012 Dec 13.PMID: 23239612
  8. Reeves KJ, Hou J, Higham SE, Sun Z, Trzeciakowski JP, Meininger GA, Brown NJ. Selective measurement and manipulation of adhesion forces between cancer cells and bone marrow endothelial cells using atomic force microscopy. Nanomedicine (Lond). 2013 Jun;8(6):921-34. PMID:23199365
  9. Clark CG, Sun Z, Meininger GA, Potts JT. Atomic force microscopy to characterize binding properties of α7-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors on neurokinin-1 receptor-expressing medullary respiratory neurons. Exp Physiol. 2013 Feb;98(2):415-24. PMID: 22962286
  10. Hong Z, Sun Z, Li Z, Mesquitta WT, Trzeciakowski JP, Meininger GA. Coordination of fibronectin adhesion with contraction and relaxation in microvascular smooth muscle.Cardiovasc Res. 2012 Oct 1;96(1):73-80. PMID: 22802110

Published by Dalton Cardiovascular Research Center, 134 Research Park Dr., Columbia, MO 65211
Phone: 573-882-7588 | Fax: 573-884-4232 | Email: