Duke University Medical Center
Faculty and Research

Heitman Lab Members

Jing Zhang

Undergraduate Student

320 CARL Building
Box 3546 DUMC
Durham, N.C. 27710

Phone: 919.684.3036
Fax: 919.684.5458
Email: jzz@duke.edu

Jing Zhang

I am an undergraduate student in Trinity College (Class of 2012) pursuing a Chemistry major with a concentration in Pharmacology. I joined the Heitman lab in the summer of 2010 and began working with Dr. Ying-Lien (Joe) Chen in the fall of 2010. I am studying the role of calcineurin, a calcium activated enzyme, in several fungal pathogens of the Candida genus and investigating novel antifungal drug combinations with a calcineurin inhibitor, FK506.

Calcineurin is a calcium activated protein phosphatase required for drug tolerance, serum survival, and virulence of several fungal pathogens including C. albicans. Intracellular Ca2+ stimulates the calcium sensor calmodulin to associate with the calcineurin AB heterodimer (Cna1/Cnb1), activating its phosphatase activity. My project looks as the role of calcineurin in the virulence of three emerging non-albicans Candida species, C. lusitaniae, C. glabrata, and C. dubliniensis. C. dubliniensis is the closest species to the established pathogenic species, C. albicans, and causes around 2-7% of all candidemia cases. C. lusitaniae, though much less prevalent than other Candida species, is associated with a high mortality rate due to its unique resistance to the antifungal agent amphotericin B as well as fluconazole, and 5-flucytosine. Since calcineurin is required for C. albicans virulence, we are also investigating potential drug synergy between the calcineurin inhibitor FK506 and azole or echinocandin drugs.

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