Faculty Profile - University of Houston
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Faculty Profile

Zhang John WeihuaZhang “John” Weihua

Associate Professor
Department of Biology and Biochemistry

Office: Houston Science Center, 358
Contact: wzhang13@uh.edu - (713) 743-8382

Education: Ph.D., Karolinska Institute (Sweden)


Metastasis causes the death of patients with solid cancers. The core molecular mechanism of metastasis remains largely unknown. The research of Dr. Zhang “John” Weihua’s laboratory focuses on understanding the following metastasis-related molecular mechanisms:

1. The tyrosine kinase independent function of the epidermal growth factor receptor, EGFR.

2. The impact of organ microenvironment on the energy metabolism of cancer metastasis.

3. The role of intracellular ATP levels of cancer cells in the development of cancer metastasis.

  • Thomas R and Weihua Z. Rethink of EGFR in Cancer With Its Kinase Independent Function on Board. Front. Oncol. 9:800. 2019. doi: 10.3389/fonc.2019.00800
  • Rintu Thomas, Shivangi Srivastava, Rajasekhara Reddy Katreddy, Jason Sobieski, Weihua Z. Kinase-inactivated EGFR is required for the survival of wild-type EGFR expressing cancer cells treated with tyrosine kinase inhibitors. International Journal of Molecular Sciences. 20(10), 2515, 2019. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijms20102515
  • Katreddy RR, Bollu LR, Su F, Xian N, Srivastava S, Thomas R, Dai Y, Wu B, Xu Y, Rea MA, Briggs JM, Zhang Q, Lu X, Huang G, Weihua Z. Targeted reduction of the EGFR protein, but not inhibition of its kinase activity, induces mitophagy and death of cancer cells through activation of mTORC2 and Akt. Oncogenesis. 7(1):3. doi: 10.1038/s41389-017-0019-1; 2018
  • Bollu LR, Katreddy RR, Blessing AM, Nguyen P, Zheng B, Wu X, Weihua Z. Intracellular activation of EGFR by fatty acid synthase dependent palmitoylation. Oncotarget. 6(33), 34992-5003; 2015
  • Chen J, Lee H-J, Wu X, Huo L, Kim S-J, Xu L, Wang Y, He J, Bollu LR, Gao G, Su F, Briggs J, Liu X, Melman T, Asara JM, Fidler IJ, Cantley LC, Locasale JW, Weihua Z. Gain of glucose-independent growth upon metastasis of breast cancer cells to the brain. Cancer Res. 75:544-565; 2015 (Cover Page).
  • Bollu LR, Ren J, Blessing AM, Katreddy RR, Gao G, Xu L, Wang J, Su F, Weihua Z. Involvement of de novo synthesized palmitate and mitochondrial EGFR in EGF induced mitochondrial fusion of cancer cells. Cell Cycle. 13(15): 2415-2430; 2014.
  • Zhou Y, Bollu LR, Tozzi F, Ye X, Bhattacharya R, Goa G, Dupre E, Xia L, Lu J, Fan F, Bellister S, Ellis L, Weihua Z. ATP Citrate Lyase Mediates Resistance of Colorectal Cancer Cells to SN38. Molecular Cancer Therapeutics.12:2782-2791; 2013.
  • Ren J, Bollu LR, Su F, Gao G, Xu L, Huang W-C, Hung M-C and Weihua Z. EGFR-SGLT1 interaction does not respond to EGFR modulators, but inhibition of SGLT1 sensitizes prostate cancer cells to EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Prostate, 73:1453-61; 2013.
  • Blessing A, Xu L, Gao G, Bollu LR, Ren J, Li H, Wu X, Su F, Huang W-C, Hung M-C, Huo L, Palapattu GS and Weihua Z. Sodium/Glucose Co-transporter 1 Expression Increases in Human Diseased Prostate. J Cancer Sci. Ther. 4: 306-312. doi:10.4172/1948-5956.1000159; 2012.
  • Xu L, Gao G, Ren J, Su F and Weihua Z. Estrogen receptor β of host promotes the progression of lung cancer brain metastasis of an orthotopic mouse model. J. Cancer. Therapy. 3(4): 352-358. doi: 10.4236/jct.2012.324046; 2012.
  • Bollu RL, Ren J, Chen J, Gao G and Weihua Z. Epidermal Growth Factor Receptor in Prostate Cancer Cells (Book Chapter), in Prostate Cancer Cells: detection, growth and treatment . Nova Publishers, 147-160, 2012.
  • Zhou Y, Tozzi F, Chen J, Fan F, Xia L, Wang J, Gao G, Zhang A, Xia X, Brasher H L, Widger W, Ellis L, Weihua Z. Intracellular ATP levels are a pivotal determinant of chemoresistance in colon cancer cells. Cancer Res. 72:304-314; 2012.
  • Chen J and Weihua Z. The role of intracellular ATP in regulating glycolysis, HIF-1a, and drug resistance of cancer cells. Cancer Res. 71(suppl 8): 995 (Abstract); 2011.
    This meeting abstract reported, for the first time, that increase of intracellular ATP down-regulated HIF-1a and glycolysis regardless of oxygen, which is significant in terms of advancing our understanding of the driving force for metabolic alterations in cancer cells.
  • Weihua Z, Tsan R., Lin Q, Fan D and Fidler IJ. Formation of solid tumors by a single multinucleated cell. Cancer, 117:4092-9; 2011. (Author of correspondence).
  • Xu S. and Weihua Z. Loss of EGFR induced autophagy sensitizes hormone refractory prostate cancer cells to adriamycin. Prostate, 17:1216-1224; 2011.
  • Weihua Z., Tsan R., Huang WC., Wu Q., Chiu CH., Fidler IJ, Hung MC. Survival of Cancer Cells Is Maintained by EGFR Independent of Its Kinase Activity. Cancer Cell. 13:385-393; 2008.
  • Weihua Z., Tsan R., Do-Hyun Nam, Lu W. and Fidler, IJ. Loss of Adhesion in the Circulation Converts Amelanotic Metastatic Melanoma Cells to Melanotic by Inhibition of AKT. Neoplasia. 8(7):543-550; 2006.
  • Weihua Z., Tsan, R., Schroit, A. J., and Fidler,I. J. Apoptotic cells initiate endothelial cell sprouting via electrostatic signaling. Cancer Res. 65(24): 11529-11535; 2005.
  • Weihua Z., Ekman, J., Elmkvist, Saji, S., Wang, L., Warner, M., and Gustafsson,J. A. Involvement of androgen receptor in 17beta-estradiol induced cell proliferation in rat uterus. Biol. Reprod. 67(2): 616-623; 2002.
  • Weihua Z., Lathe, R., Warner, M., and Gustafsson, J. A. An endocrine pathway in the prostate, ERbeta, AR, 5alpha-androstane-3beta,17beta-diol, and CYP7B1, regulates prostate growth. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 99(21):13589-13594; 2002.

Honors and Awards:

Odyssey Fellow Award, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas
Wilson Stone Award for Research Excellence, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, University of Texas
Research Scholar, American Cancer Society

Organizations, Outreach, Boards, Memberships:

Member ,American Association of Cancer Research