Department of Biochemistry

Duke University Medical Center




Duke University       

Medical Center

Department of Biochemistry




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Dr. Pei Zhou

Professor of Biochemistry

Contact Information

Tel. (919) 668-6409
Fax (919) 684-8885

Lab Location
Rm 270, Sands Building

Mailing Address
Department of Biochemistry
Box 3711, DUMC
Durham, NC 27710


Ph.D. (Harvard University, 1998)




June 6, 2019:  Congratulations to Jessica Wojtaszek, Javaria Najeeb, Ben Fenton and their colleagues for discovery of a small molecule adjuvant that stems cancer drug resistatnce. The research is published in Cell today!  Read more on EurekAlert!ScienceDaily.

July 25, 2017: Read the newest development of LpxC inhibitor at ASM News!

July 2016, Graduate student Javaria Najeeb spoke at the "Diffraction Methods in Structure Biology" Gordon Research Conference at Bates College, Lewiston, ME.

Read more in DTRI News.

April 22, 2015. Beating Back Multidrug Resistant Bacteria: Drs. Zhou, Toone, and Fowler created a new research team, working on a project funded through a DTRI Pilot Program award.

Read more in The Chronicle

April 10, 2013. Congratulations to Yaohua (Jenny) Xue, a Duke junior working in the lab, who has won the prestigious 2013 Barry M. Goldwater Scholarship!

Read comments in Faculty of 1000.

Jan 30, 2013.  Congratulations to Jessica Wojtaszek and Chul-Jin Lee! Their article: Structural basis of Rev1-mediated assembly of a quaternary vertebrate translesion polymerase complex consisting of Rev1, heterodimeric polymerase (Pol) ζ, and Pol κ., JBC, 2012; 287(40):33836-46, has been recommended as being of special significance in its field from the F1000 Faculty:

December 20, 2012.  Congratulations to Jessica Wojtaszek, who has been awarded the Jo Rae Wright Fellowship for Outstanding Women in Science for academic year 2013-2014.

Prof. Brian Coggins will present his development of the SCRUB technology for efficient collection of high resolution 4-D NOESY spectra at the 2013 Keystone Symposia. This work is described in JACS 2012; 134(45): 18619-30. 

World Health Day – 7 April 2011

Antimicrobial resistance: no action today, no cure tomorrow    (Read more)

The March, 2011  issue of The Economist published a special report on antibiotic resistance: The spread of superbugs. (Read more

Prof. Pei Zhou spoke at the Cambridge Healthtech Institute's (CHI) PEPTALK conference (Jan 10-14, 2011) at San Diego, CA on using Solubility-enhancement tags (SETs) for solution NMR studies of challenging proteins. 

Congratulations to Jon Werner-Allen, who has been invited for an oral presentation at the Keystone Symposium: Frontiers of NMR in Biology, Jan 8 - Jan 13, 2011, Big Sky Resort in Big Sky, Montana.

Congratulations to Su Wang for winning the Graduate Student Poster Award at the 2010 Duke Biochemistry Departmental Retreat at the Wrightsville Beach, NC (09/17/2010-09/19/2010).

Research Interests

The Zhou lab focuses on the elucidation of the structure, dynamics, and function of protein-protein and protein-ligand interactions and their roles in various cellular processes. Our current efforts are directed toward enzymes and protein complexes involved in bacterial membrane biosynthesis, co-transcriptional regulation, and translesion DNA synthesis. In order to achieve these goals, the Zhou lab integrates a variety of biochemical and biophysical tools, including NMR, X-ray crystallography, enzymology, and others. The lab has also played a major role in development and application of innovative NMR technologies, including automated resonance assignment and structural analysis tools and high-resolution, high-dimensional spectral reconstruction techniques. (More)


Recent Publications



--------- 2019 ---------


84.  The Lipid A 1-Phosphatase, LpxE, Functionally Connects Multiple Layers of Bacterial Envelope Biogenesis. Zhao J#, An J#, Hwang D#, Wu Q#, Wang S, Gillespie RA, Yang EG, Guan Z, Zhou P*, Chung HS*. mBio 2019; 10: e00886-19 (#equal contributions; *Co-correspondence). (PDF link)


83. NCP activates chloroplast transcription bycontrolling phytochrome-dependent dual nuclearand plastidial switches. Yang EJ#, Yoo CY#, Liu J#, Wang H, Cao J, Li F-W, Pryer KM, Sun T-P, Weigel D, Zhou P*, Chen M*. Nature Communications 2019; 10: 2630. (#Equal contributions; *Co-correspondence) (PDF link

[Also read, "It is not easy being green" -- the story of NCP (NUCLEAR CONTROL OF PEP ACTIVITY) and its cousin RCB (REGULATOR OF CHLOROPLAST BIOGENESIS), also published in Nature Communications ]


82. A Small Molecule Targeting Mutagenic Translesion Synthesis Improves Chemotherapy. Wojtaszek JL#, Chatterjee N#, Najeeb J#, Ramos A, Lee M, Bian K, Xue JY, Fenton BA, Park H, Li  D,  Hemann MT*, Hong J*, Walker GC*, Zhou P*. Cell  (2019). (link) [#Equal contributions; *Co-correspondence]  (Also see coverage on Science Daily and EurekAlert!)

81. Structure−Activity Relationship of Sulfonyl Piperazine LpxH Inhibitors Analyzed by an LpxE-Coupled Malachite Green Assay. Lee M, Zhao J, Kwak S-H, Cho J, Lee M, Gellespie TA, Kwon D-Y, Lee H, Wu Q, Zhou P*, and Hong J*. ACS Infectious Diseases 2019; 5: 641-651 (PDF) (*Co-correspondence).

--------- 2018 ---------

80. Antimicrobial Resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae: Proceedings of the STAR Sexually Transmitted Infection-Clinical Trial Group Programmatic Meeting. Cristillo AD, Bristow CC, Torrone E, Dillon JA, Kirkcaldy RD, Dong H, Grad YH, Nicholas RA, Rice PA, Lawrence K, Oldach D, Shafer WM, Zhou P, Wi TE, Morris SR, Klausner JD. Sex Transm Dis. 2018 Oct 22. doi: 10.1097/OLQ.0000000000000929.

79. Lipid A Has Significance for Optimal Growth of Coxiella burnetii in Macrophage-Like THP-1 Cells and to a Lesser Extent in Axenic Media and Non-phagocytic Cells. Wang T, Yu Y, Liang X, Luo S, He Z, Sun Z, Jiang Y, Omsland A, Zhou P, Song L. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2018 Jun 8;8:192. doi: 10.3389/fcimb.2018.00192. eCollection 2018.

--------- 2017 ---------

pH-gated conformational switch

78. A pH-gated conformational switch regulates the phosphatase activity of bifunctional HisKA-family histidine kinases. Liu Y, Rose J, Huang S, Hu Y, Wu Q, Wang D, Li C, Liu M, Zhou P, Jiang L. Nat Commun. 2017 Dec 13;8(1):2104. doi: 10.1038/s41467-017-02310-9.  (PDF)
LpxC Inhibitor

77. Curative Treatment of Severe Gram-Negative Bacterial Infections by a New Class of Antibiotics Targeting LpxC. Lemaître N, Liang X, Najeeb J, Lee CJ, Titecat M, Leteurtre E, Simonet M, Toone EJ, Zhou P, Sebbane F.
MBio. 2017 Jul 25;8(4). pii: e00674-17.  (PDF)   (ASM News)

76.  Probing the excited-state chemical shifts and exchange parameters by nitrogen-decoupled amide proton chemical exchange saturation transfer (HNdec-CEST). Wu Q, Fenton B, Wojtaszek J, and Zhou P. Chemical Communications, 2017, DOI: 10.1039/C7CC05021F. (PDF)

Fast NMR Data Acquisition

75. (Book Chapter of Fast NMR Data Acquisition).
  • Chapter 6: Backprojection and Related Methods. Brian E. Coggins and Pei Zhou
  • Chapter 7: CLEAN. Brian E. Coggins and Pei Zhou

74. The Arabidopsis O-fucosyltransferase SPINDLY activates nuclear growth repressor DELLA. Zentella R, Sui N, Barnhill B, Hsieh WP, Hu J, Shabanowitz J, Boyce M, Olszewski NE, Zhou P, Hunt DF, Sun TP. Nat Chem Biol. 2017 Feb 28. doi: 10.1038/nchembio.2320. PMID: 28244988 (link)

--------- 2016 ---------

73. Structure, inhibition, and regulation of essential lipid A enzymes. Zhou P and  Zhao J. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Dec 8. pii: S1388-1981(16)30331-6. doi: 10.1016/j.bbalip.2016.11.014.  Review. PMID: 27940308

HiLpxC-Lipid X Complex

72. Structure of the essential Haemophilus influenzae UDP-diacylglucosamine pyrophosphohydrolase LpxH in lipid A biosynthesis. Cho J, Lee C-J, Zhao J, Young HE, Zhou P. Nature Microbiology 1, Article number: 16154 (2016) doi:10.1038/nmicrobiol.2016.15472.

NMR R factor

71. Unbiased measurements of reconstruction fidelity of sparsely sampled magnetic resonance spectra. Wu Q, Coggins BE, Zhou P. Nature Communications 2016; 7: 12281 (link)

70. High susceptibility of multidrug- and extensively drug-resistant Gram-negative pathogens to  biphenyl-diacetylene-based difluoromethyl-allo-threonyl-hydroxamate LpxC inhibitors. Titecat M, Liang X, Lee C-J, Charlet A, Hocquet D, Lambert T, Jean-Marie P, Courcol RJ, Sebbane F, Toone E, Zhou P, Lemaitre N. Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy 2016 Jun 20. pii: dkw210. (link)


69. A Scalable Synthesis of the Difluoromethyl-allo-threonyl hydroxamate-based LpxC Inhibitor LPC-058.  Liang X, Gopalaswamy R, Navas Iii F, Toone EJ, Zhou P. J Org Chem. 2016 Apr 29. [Epub ahead of print]


68. Discovery of the elusive UDP-diacylglucosamine hydrolase in the lipid A biosynthetic pathway in Chlamydia trachomatis.  Young HE, Zhao J, Barker JR, Guan Z, Valdivia RH, Zhou P. MBio. 2016; 7(2). pii: e00090-16. doi: 10.1128/mBio.00090-16.

Cryptic Inhibitor Envelope

67.  Drug design from the cryptic inhibitor envelope. Lee C-J,  Liang X, Wu Q, Najeeb J, Zhao  J, Gopalaswamy R, Titecat M, Sebbane F, Lemaitre N, Toone EJ, Zhou P. Nature Communications 2016; 7: 10638. (link

--------- 2015 ---------

66. Suppression of conformational heterogeneity at a protein–protein interface. Deis LN, Wu Q, Wang Y, Daniels KG, Zhou P, Oas TG. PNAS 2015; 112: 9028-33. (PDF

65. Systematic solution to homo-oligomeric structures determined by NMR. Martin J, Zhou P, Donald BR. PROTEINS: Structure, Function, and Bioinformatics 2015; 83: 651-61 (PDF). 

--------- 2014 ---------

64. Ubiquitin recognition by FAAP20 expands the complex interface beyond the canonical UBZ domain. Wojtaszek JL, Wang S, Kim H, Wu Q, D'Andrea AD, Zhou P. Nucleic Acids Research, 2014; 42: 13997-4005  (link).

63. Structural basis of lipid binding for the membrane-embedded tetraacyldisaccharide-1-phosphate 4'-kinase LpxK. Emptage RP, Tonthat NK, York JD, Schumacher MA, and Zhou P. J. Biol. Chem. 2014 Aug 29;289(35):24059-68. doi:10.1074/jbc.M114.589986. (PDF)

62. A CRISPR-Cas system enhances envelope integrity mediating antibiotic resistance and inflammasome evasion. Sampson TR, Napier BA, Schroeder MR, Louwen R, Zhao J, Chin  C-Y, Ratner HK, Llewellyn AC, Jones CL, Laroui H, Merlin D, Zhou P, Endtz HP, and Weiss DS. PNAS 2014; 11163-11168. doi:10.1073/pnas.1323025111. (PDF)

61. Sparsely-sampled, high-resolution 4-D omit spectra for detection and assignment of intermolecular NOEs of protein complexes. Wang S and Zhou P.  J Biomol NMR 2014; 59: 51-6 (PDF).

60. Chasing acyl carrier protein through a catalytic cycle of lipid A production. Masoudi A, Raetz CRH, Zhou P, and Pemble CW. Nature. 2014 Jan 16; 505(7483): 422-6.  (PDF

59. Structural Basis of the Promiscuous Inhibitor Susceptibility of E. coli LpxC. Lee C-J, Liang X, Gopalaswamy R, Najeeb J, Ark, ED, Toone EJ, and Zhou P. ACS Chem. Biol. 2014 Jan 17;9(1):237-46. doi: 10.1021/cb400067g. (PDF)

--------- 2013 ---------

Recommended by

58. Crystal Structure of MraY, an Essential Membrane Enzyme for Bacterial Cell Wall Synthesis. Chung BC, Zhao J, Gillespie RA, Kwon DY, Guan Z, Hong J, Zhou P, Lee SY. Science 2013; 341(6149): 1012-6. (PMC link)

57. Synthesis, structure and antibiotic activity of aryl-substituted LpxC inhibitors. Liang X, Lee C-J, Zhao J, Toone EJ, and Zhou P. J. Med. Chem., 2013; 56(17): 6954-66, (PDF)

56. The UDP-diacylglucosamine pyrophosphohydrolase LpxH in lipid A biosynthesis utilizes A Mn2+ cluster for catalysis. Young HE, Donohue MP, Smirnova TI, Smirnov AI, and Zhou P. J. Biol. Chem.  2013; 288(38): 26987-7001  (PDF)

55. Storage of hydrogen spin polarization in long-lived (13)c2 singlet order and implications for hyperpolarized magnetic resonance imaging. Feng Y, Theis T, Liang X, Wang Q, Zhou P, Warren WS. JACS. 2013; 135(26): 9632-5.  (link)

54. Mechanistic characterization of the tetraacyldisaccharide-1-phosphate 4´-kinase LpxK involved in lipid A biosynthesis. Emptage RP, Pemble CW, York JD, Raetz CR, Zhou P. Biochemistry. 2013; 52, 2280-90. (PDF)  

53. Specific interaction of the transcription elongation regulator TCERG1 with RNA polymerase II requires simultaneous phosphorylaHASH: a Program to Accurately Predict Protein Ha Shifts from Neighboring Backbone tion at Ser2, Ser5 and Ser7 within the carboxyl-terminal domain repeat. Liu J, Fan S, Lee CJ, Greenleaf AL, Zhou P. J Biol Chem. 2013; 288, 10890-901. (PDF)

52. Mutants resistant to LpxC inhibitors by rebalancing cellular homeostasis. Zeng D, Zhao J, Chung HS, Guan Z, Raetz CR, Zhou P. J Biol Chem. 2013; 288: 5475-86. (PDF)

51. HASH: a Program to Accurately Predict Protein Ha Shifts from Neighboring Backbone Shifts. Zeng J, Zhou P, and Donald BR. J Biomol NMR 2013; 55: 105-18.  (PDF).

--------- 2012 ---------

50. Rapid protein global fold determination using ultrasparse sampling, high-dynamic range artifact suppression, and time-shared NOESY. Coggins BE, Werner-Allen JW, Yan A, and Zhou P. J Am Chem Soc. 2012; 134(45): 18619-30.  (PDF)

Recommended by Faculty of 1000

49. Structural basis of Rev1-mediated assembly of a quaternary vertebrate translesion polymerase complex consisting of Rev1, heterodimeric Pol zeta and Pol kappa.  Wojtaszek J, Lee CJ, D'Souza S, Minesinger B, Kim H, D'Andrea AD, Walker GC, and Zhou P. J Biol Chem. 2012; 287(40): 33836-46 (PDF)

48. Multifaceted recognition of vertebrate Rev1 by translesion polymerases zeta and kappa. Wojtaszek J, Liu J, D'Souza S, Wang S, Xue Y, Walker GC, Zhou P. J Biol Chem. 2012 July 27; 287 (31): 26400-8.  (PDF)

47. Efficient acquisition of high-resolution 4-D diagonal-suppressed methyl-methyl NOESY for large proteins. Wen J, Zhou P, Wu J. J Magn Reson. 2012 May;218:128-32.  PMID: 22464875. (PDF)

--------- 2011 ---------

46. Protein loop closure using orientational restraints from NMR data.Tripathy C, Zeng J, Zhou P, Donald BR. Proteins. 2011 Sep 26. doi: 10.1002/prot.23207. (PDF)

45. A geometric arrangement algorithm for structure determination of symmetric protein homo-oligomers from NOEs and RDCs. Martin JW, Yan AK, Bailey-Kellogg C, Zhou P, Donald BR. J Comput Biol. 2011 Nov;18(11):1507-23. Epub 2011 Oct 28.

44. A Bayesian approach for determining protein side-chain rotamer conformations using unassigned NOE data. Zeng J, Roberts KE, Zhou P, Donald BR. J Comput Biol. 2011 Nov;18(11):1661-79.

43. 1H, 13C and 15N backbone and side-chain resonance assignments of Drosophila melanogaster Ssu72. Werner-Allen JW, Zhou P. Biomol NMR Assign. 2011 Jul 6. (PDF)

42. Protein Side-Chain Resonance Assignment and NOE Assignment Using RDC-Defined Backbones without TOCSY Data. Zeng J, Zhou P and Donald BR. J Biomol NMR. 2011 Jun 25. (PDF)

41. Lipooligosaccharide is required for the generation of infectious elementary bodies in Chlamydia trachomatis. Nguyen BD, Cunningham D, Liang X, Chen X, Toone EJ, Raetz CR, Zhou P, Valdivia RH. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jun 21;108(25):10284-9. (PDF)

40. A graphical method for analyzing distance restraints using residual dipolar couplings for structure determination of symmetric protein homo-oligomers. Martin JW, Yam AK, Bailey-Kellogg C, Zhou P and Donald BR. Protein Sci 2011; 20: 970-85. (PDF)

39. Sparsely-sampled high-resolution 4-D experiments for efficient backbone resonance assignment of disordered proteins. Wen J, Wu J, and Zhou P. J Magn Reson 209, 94-100 (2011). (PDF)

38. Cis proline-mediated pSer5-dephosphorylation by the RNA polymerase II CTD phosphatase Ssu72. Werner-Allen JW, Lee CJ, Liu P, Nicely NI, Wang S, Greenleaf AL, Zhou P. Journal of Biological Chemistry 286, 5717-5826 (2011). (PDB: 3P3Y) (PDF)

37. Syntheses, structures and antibiotic acitivities of LpxC inhibitors based on the diacetylene scaffold. Liang X, Lee CJ, Chen X, Chung HS, Zeng D, Raetz CRH, Li Y, Zhou P, Toone EJ. Bioorganic & Medicinal Chemistry 19: 852-60 (2011). (PDB: 3PS1, 3PS2, 3PS3) (PDF)

36. Species-specific and inhibitor-dependent conformations of LpxC-Implications for antibiotic design. Lee CJ, Liang X, Chen X, Zeng D, Joo SH, Chung HS, Barb AW, Swanson SM, Nicholas RA, Li Y, Toone EJ, Raetz CRH, Zhou P. Chemistry and Biology 18: 38-47 (2011). (PDB: 3P3C, 3P3E, 3P3G) (PDF)


(+) --------- 2009-2010 ----------

(+) --------- 2006-2008 ----------

(+) --------- 2003-2005 ----------

(+) Ph.D. and Postdoctoral Research

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