Zong Jie CUI, PhD

Institute of Cell Biology
Beijing Normal University
Beijing 100875, China


Ph.D. in pharmacology, University of Cambridge, 1989;
Postdoctoral positions, Dept. Pharmacology, Yale Univ. School of Medicine, and Dept. of Surgery, Harvard Medical School and Beth Isreal Hospital, 1990-1994;
Associate Professor, National Laboratory of Biotechnology, China Agricultural Univ, 1994-1998;
Professor in Cell Biology, Beijing Normal University, 1998- present.
Editorial boards: Prog Physiol Sci, Biophysics Reports (Associate Editor), Pancreapedia.
Formerly Council Member, Chinese Society for Cell Biology, Chinese Biophysical Society.
Past President, Chinese Commission for Photobiology (a section of The Chinese Biophysical Society).
Undergraduate course (Nationally Acclaimed Course): Human and Animal Physiology.

Research Interest

Cytosolic calcium oscillations:
Among the earliest responses after cellular stimulation is increased in cytosolic calcium concentration. Such calcium increases in individual cells are often in the form of oscillations - periodic increases in cytoslic calcium concentrtion. Oscillation confers two forms of modultion of the calcium signal: amplitude modultion (AM), and frequency modultion (FM), therefore multiple calcium signals could be encoded, to modulate specific cellular functions. Our laboratory investigates in secretory and other cell types the molecular mechanisms of calcium oscillations, such as a role for NCX, ER calcium channels in the pace-making process of calcium oscillations.
Molecular basis of exocytosis:
Secretory cells are pivotal in the body. Secretory cells such as pancreatic acinar cells, pancreatic islet beta cells, anterior pituitary cells, mamary gland acinar cells, after stimulation by neurotransmitters or hormones all have their secretory granules in the cytosol to dock at, and fuse with, the plasma membrane, subsequently to release the granule content into the extracellular space. Our laboratory investigates how after stimulation, secretory cells have their secretory granules dock at, and fuse with plasma membrane, to complete the process of exocytosis and cell secretion, with an emphasis on SNARE and related proteins.
Singlet oxygen as a signaling molecule:
Many chromophores (photon-absorbing groups) in nature could absorb photons of certain wavelength. When such molecules after absorption of photons transfer their photon energy to molecular oxygen, the excited delta singlet oxygen is produced. Since singlet oxygen has very high chemical energy (94 kJ/mole), and a very short lifetime in cellular environment (1μs), it has very limited distance of effective reaction (< 10 nm). Therefore singlet oxygen generated during a Type II photodynamic action could subcellular specifically modulate cellular functions. Our laboratory investigates molecular targets of photodynamic action in alive cells, and the resultant chemical modifications of biologically important signalling macromolecules. We also investigate the molecular basis of singlet oxygen action as an endogenous signalling molecule. The genetically encoded protein photosenstisers (KillerRed, miniSOG) were subcellular organelle specifically or cell type specifically expressed to generate highly spatially defined molecular singlet oxygen. We found that the plasma membrane-localized G protein-coupled receptor cholecystokinin 1 (CCK1) receptor is permanently activated by singlet oxygen (ABSO), we therefore named CCK1 receptor a GPCR-ABSO.
Contact regulation between neighbouring cell types:
To investigate regulation by neutrophil respiratory burst, pancreatic stellate cell activation on pancreatic acinar calcium signalling. We found that neutrophils can quench CCK- and ACh-induced calcium oscillations in rat pancreatic acinar cells. Further, rat pancreatic stellate cells were found to serve as a brake mechanism on pancreatic acinar cell calcium signaling.
Modulation of synaptic transmission by toosendanin:
To examine the cellular and molecular effects of toosendanin on synaptic transmission. We found that toosendanin elicits calcium increases and exocytosis in rat sensory neurons (nodose ganglion neurons).

Scientific Activities

A Scholarship from The British Council, 1985-1989
A Short-Term Fellowship from HFSPO (Strasbourg, France), 1996
Outstanding Young Scientist Merit Award (Types A, C) from NSFChina, 1999-2002
The Chinese Ministry of Education Trans-Century Young Talent Award, 1999-2001
Outstanding Young Scientist Merit Award (Type B) from NSFChina, 2008-2010
GRANTS (From: The Natural Science Foundation of China, NSFC)
1997-1999 Roles and classification of receptor-operated calcium channels in pancreatic acinar cells. No. 39670269.
1998-2000 NSFC / JSPS Joint Grant. Hokkaido Univ, Beijing Normal Univ.
1999-2001 Novel photosensitizers and their modulation of signaling in secretory cells. No. 39870367.
1999-2002 Young Scientist Merrit Award: Cell Signalling. No. 39825112.
2001-2003 Correlation of secretion and calcium oscillation in single pancreatic acinar cell. No. 30070286.
2005-2007 Molecular mechanisms in secretory blockade in pancreatic acinar cells during experimental acute pancreatitis. No. 30472048.
2006-2008 TRP structure and function. No. 30540420524.
2008-2010 Overseas Young Scientist Collaborative Award: Digestive Physiology (Host at BNU). No. 30728020.
2009-2011 Singlet oxygen modulation of G protein-coupled receptors in alive cells. No. 30870580.
2010-2012 Roles of NOX isoforms in UVA-induced cytosolic calcium oscillations in mast cells. No. 30970675.
2013-2016 Neurtophil regulation of pancreatic acinar cell calcium signaling. No. 31270892.
2017-2020 Photodynamic modulation of G protein-coupled receptors with subcellular specific protein photosensitisers. No. 31670856.


Liu JS, Cui ZJ (2019) Pancreatic stellate cells serve as a brake mechanism on pancreatic acinar cells - modulation by methionine sulfoxide reductase expression. Cells 8: 109.
Guo HY, Cui ZJ (2019) Extracellular histones activate TLR9 to induce calcium oscillations in rat pancreatic acinar tumor cell AR4-2J. Cells 8: 3.
Jiang WY, Li Y, Li ZY, Cui ZJ (2018) Permanent photodynamic cholecystokinin 1 receptor activation – dimer-to-monomer conversion. Cell Mol Neurobiol 38: 1283-1292.
Jiang HN, Li Y, Jiang WY, Cui ZJ (2018) Cholecystokinin 1 receptor - a unique G protein-coupled recpeotr activated by singlet oxygen (GPCR-ABSO). Front Physiol 9: 497. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2018.00497.
Jiang HN, Li Y, Cui ZJ (2017) Photodynamic physiology - photonanomanipulations in cellular
physiology with protein photosensitisers. Front Physiol 8: 191.
Li ZY, Jiang WY, Cui ZJ (2015) An essential role for NAD(P)H oxidase 2 in UVA-induced calcium oscillations in mast cells. Photochem Photobiol Sci 14: 414-428.
Liang HY, Song ZM, Cui ZJ (2013) Lasting inhibition of receptor-mediated calcium oscillations in pancreatic acini by neutrophil respiratory burst - A novel mechanism for secretory blockade in acute pancreatitis? Biochem Biophys Res Commun 437: 361-367.
Cui ZJ, Han ZQ, Li ZY (2012) Modulating protein activity and cellular function by methionine residue oxidation. Amino Acids 43: 505-517.
Jia YH, Cui ZJ (2011) Tri-phasic modulation of ACh- and NE-maintained calcium plateau by high potassium in isolated mouse submandibular granular convoluted tubular cells. Arch Oral Biol 56: 1347-1355.
Fang XF, Cui ZJ (2011) The anti-botulism triterpenoid toosendanin elicits calcium increase and exocytosis in rat sensory neurons. Cell Mol Neurobiol 31: 1151-1162.
Duan YJ, Liang HY, Jin WJ, Cui ZJ (2011) Substance P conjugated to CdTe quantum dot triggers cytosolic calcium oscillations and induces QD internalization in the pancreatic carcinoma cell line AR4-2J. Analyt Bioanalyt Chem 400: 2995-3003.
Chen BD, Guan DD, Cui ZJ, Wang X & Shen X (2010) Thioredoxin 1 downregulates MCP-1 secretion and expression in human endothelial cells by suppressing nuclear translocation of activator protein 1 and redox factor-1. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol 298: C1170-C1179.
Wang BJ, Liang HY & Cui ZJ (2009) Duck pancreatic acinar cell as a unique model for independent cholinergic stimulation-secretion coupling. Cell Mol Neurobiol 29: 747-756.
Fang XF, Zhao XT, Zhou W, Li J, Liu Q, Shen X, Satoh YI, Cui ZJ (2009) Fluorescence detection / imaging of cytosolic calcium oscillations: a comparison of four equipment set-ups. Progr Natl Sci 19: 479-487.
Zhou YD, Fang XF & Cui ZJ (2009) UVA induced calcium oscillations in rat mast cells. Cell Calcium 45: 18-28.
Hu F, Sun WW, Zhao XT, Cui ZJ & Yang WX (2008) TRPV1 mediates cell death in rat synovial fibroblasts through calcium entry-dependent ROS production and mitochondrial depolarization. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 369: 989-993.
Wang BJ & Cui ZJ (2007) How does cholecystokinin stimulate exocrine pancreatic secretion? From birds, rodents, to humans. Am J Physiol 292: R666-678.
Kuroda T, Satoh Y, Akutsu-Yamaguchi H, Shikanai Y, Miyata S, Saino T, Russa D, Habara Y & Cui ZJ (2006) Quantitative analysis of photodamage during fluorescence bioimaging: monitoring of nitric oxide production using DAF-2. Bioimages 14: 9-18.
Su L, Ma CY, Zhou YD, Jia YH & Cui ZJ (2006) Cytosolic calcium oscillations in the submandibular gland cells. Acta Pharmacol Sin 27: 843-847.
Cui ZJ (2004) Importance of proper placement for all data points. World J Gastroenterol 10: 2924-2925.
Ma CY, Chen CY & Cui ZJ (2004) Selective use of a reserved mechanism for inducing calcium oscillations. Cell Signal 16: 1435-1440.
Xiao R & Cui ZJ (2004) Mutual dependence of VIP/PACAP and CCK receptor signaling for a physiological role in duck exocrine pancreatic secretion. Am J Physiol 286: R189-198.
Wang N, Liu Y, Xie MX & Cui ZJ (2003) Changes in plasma membrane protein structure after photodynamic action in freshly isolated rat pancreatic acini. An FTIR study. J Photochem Photobiol B Biol 71: 27-34.
Cui ZJ, Zhou YD, Satoh Y & Habara Y (2003) A physiological role for protoporphyrin IX photodynamic action in the rat Harderian gland? Acta Physiol Scand 179: 149-154.
(Editorial, Acta Physiol Scand 179: 103).
An YP, Xiao R, Cui H & Cui ZJ (2003) Selective activation by photodynamic action of cholecystokinin receptor in the freshly isolated rat pancreatic acini. Br J Pharmacol 139: 872-880.
Cui ZJ & Guo LL (2002) Photodynamic modulation by Victoria Blue BO of phenylephrine-induced calcium oscillations in the freshly isolated rat hepatocytes. Photochem Photobiol Sci 1: 1001-1005.
Cui ZJ & He XH (2002) The pre-synaptic blocker toosendanin does not inhibit secretion in exocrine cells. World J Gastroenterol 8: 918-922.
Liu XH, Lu GW & Cui ZJ (2002) Calcium oscillations in the freshly isolated neonatal rat cortical neurons. Acta Pharmacol Sin 23: 577-581.
Cui ZJ & Guo LL (2002) Assessing the physiological concentrations of endogenous substances in situ by induced calcium oscillations in vitro. Case of liver. Acta Pharmacol Sin 23: 27-32.
Hashikura S, Satoh Y, Cui ZJ & Habara Y (2001). Photodynamic action inhibits compound 48/80-induced exocytosis in rat peritoneal mast cells. Jpn J Vet Res 49: 239-247.
Cui ZJ, Habara Y & Satoh Y (2000) Photodynamic modulation of adrenergic receptors in the isolated rat hepatocytes. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 277: 705-710.
Cui ZJ & Kanno T (2000) Cholecystokinin analogue JMV-180-induced intracellular calcium oscillations are mediated by inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate in rat pancreatic acini. Acta Pharmacol Sin 21: 377-380.
Cui ZJ & Matthews EK (1998) Photodynamic modulation of cellular function. Acta Pharmacol Sin 19: 297-303.
Cui ZJ (1998) Types of voltage-dependent calcium channels involved in high potassium depolarization-induced amylase secretion in the exocrine pancreatic tumour cell line AR4-2J. Cell Res 8: 23-31.
Cui ZJ & Kanno T (1997) Selective activation by photodynamic action of cholecystokinin receptor in the freshly isolated rat pancreatic acini. J Physiol (Lond) 504: 47-55. Cited 51 times
Cui ZJ, Habara Y, Wang DY & Kanno T (1997) A novel aspect of photodynamic action: induction of recurrent spikes in cytosolic calcium concentration. Photochem Photobiol 65: 382-386.
Maruyama T, Cui ZJ, Kanaji T, Mikoshiba K & Kanno T (1997) Attenuation of intracellular Ca2+ release and secretory responses by Ins(1,4,5)P3 induced Ca2+ release modulator, 2APB, in rat pancreatic acinar cells. Biomed Res 18: 297-302. Cited 20 times
Cui ZJ (1997) Muscarinic stimulation of calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II in isolated rat pancreatic acini. Acta Pharmacol Sin 18: 61-63.
Cui ZJ, Hidaka H, Dannies PS (1996) KN-62, a calcium.calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II inhibitor, inhibits high potassium-stimulated prolactin secretion and intracellular calcium increases in anterior pituitary cells. Biochim Biophys Acta 1310: 343-347.
Cui ZJ, Gorelick FS, Dannies PS (1994) Calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase II activation in rat pituitary cells in the presence of thyrotropin-releasing hormone and dopamine. Endocrinology 134: 2245-2250.
Al-Laith M, Matthews EK & Cui ZJ (1993) Photodynamicdrug action on isolated rat pancreatic acini. Mobilization of arachidonic acid and prostaglandin production. Biochem Pharmacol 46: 567-573.
Cui ZJ & Dannies PS (1992) Thyrotropin-releaing hormone-mediated Mn2+ entry in perifused rat anterior pituitary cells. Biochem J 283: 507-513.
Matthews EK & Cui ZJ (1990) Photodynamic action of sulphonated aluminium phthalocyanine (SALPC) on AR4-2J cells, a carcinoma cell line of rat exocrine pancreas. Br J Cancer 61: 695-701.
Matthews EK & Cui ZJ (1990) Photodynamic action of sulphonated aluminium phthalocyanine (SALPC) on isolated rat pancreatic acini. Biochem Pharmacol 39: 1445-1457.
Matthews EK & Cui ZJ (1989) Photodynamic action of rose bengal on isolated rat pancreatic acini: stimulattion of amylase release. FEBS Lett 256: 29-32

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