Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience
4066C Graves Hall
333 West 10th Ave
Dr. Zhou’s laboratory focuses on the physiology and pathophysiology of astrocytes, a glial subtype that are linked through conduit proteins, gap junctions, into a syncytium. The syncytial coupling has been indicated in their recent study to confer an isopotentiality to astrocytes network, by which astrocytes operate as a functional system in brain homeostasis. In ongoing studies, they are investigating 1) the anatomical basis, gap junction, ion channel mechanisms and biophysical rationale underlying this newly appreciated glial mechanism; 2) how neuronal signaling regulates the functional states of astrocyte syncytium, and that in turn, subserves brain homeostasis and synaptic transmission; and 3) how disruption of an astrocyte syncytium, at both of the structural and functional levels, is etiologically associated with neurological disorders, such as stroke, epilepsy, and depression.
A variety of techniques and transgenic animal models are currently employed in Dr. Zhou’s laboratory to understand the structure and function of astrocytes: electrophysiology, confocal microscopy, blockface serial scanning EM, CUBIC tissue clearing, immunocytochemistry, RT-PCR, Western blots, and behavioral analysis.