On October 13, 2015, Prof. Yingming Zhao visited Institute of Biophysics (IBP), CAS and gave a lecture entitled Epigenetic and Metabolic Regulation by a Family of Short-chain Lysine Acylation Pathways. This lecture, which is a part of the special lecture series of Shizhang Bei Lecture of IBP, was hosted by Prof. Bing Zhu. Prof. Yingming Zhao received his Ph.D. degree from the Rockefeller University under Prof. Brian Chait in 1997. He is currently a professor in the Ben May Department for Cancer Research at the University of Chicago. The research interests of his lab mainly lie in developing and applying mass spectrometry-based proteomic technologies to discover novel protein post-translational modifications (PTMs) and cellular pathways involved.
In 2011, Prof. Yingming Zhao’s lab published a Cell paper reporting their new identification of 67 previously undescribed histone modifications, expanding the current number of known histone marks by about seventy percent. In the same paper, they further characterized lysine crotonylation (Kcr) as a specific mark of active sex chromosome-linked genes in post-meiotic male germ cells. This work was selected as one the five highlights by Cell among the papers published in that year.
Prof. Yingming Zhao introduced their recent progress on the study of lysine acylation pathways, including propionylation, butyrylation, crotonylation, malonylation, succinylation, glutarylation, 2-hydroxyisobutyrylation (bhb) and 3-hydroxybutyrylation. The lysine acylations are crucial in epigenetic regulation and cellular metabolism, and contribute to multiple inborn metabolic diseases. Prof. Yingming Zhao showed that the level of Kbhb, which activates gene expression in starvation, was correlated with the balance between amounts of cellular acetyl-CoA and ketone bodies. Prof. Yingming Zhao also showed that there are varied spectrums of Kbhb binding proteins in different tissues. He further pointed out that besides starvation, Kbhb plays a role in diabetes and neural degeneration diseases as well. Moreover, Prof. Yingming Zhao introduced the identification of Sirt5 as a desuccinylase and deglutarylase, which has long been considered as a deacetylase in the history.
Prof. Yingming Zhao gave the lecture with vivid words, rigorous logic and great passion, which could be a lively lesson for the audience. Investigators from Institute of Biophysics attending the lecture included Dr. Hong Zhang, Guohong Li, Jiangyun Wang, Zheng Zhou and Na Yang. After the lecture, Prof. Yingming Zhao and the audience shared their views on the issues of common interest.