Page 4 - B3 Brochure
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Zimei Bu

Associate Professor of Chemistry

PhD Louisiana State University (1994)

Biophysics, Structural Biology, Neutron Scattering

We study the structure and dynamics of cell signaling proteins. We are particularly interested in signaling 
proteins that control cell-cell adhesion, and the assembly and intracellular trafficking of membrane 

receptors and ion channels. These proteins function as molecular machines and switches, which can fail 

to work properly for various reasons, causing diseases such as cancer and cystic fibrosis. We employ a 

variety of biochemical and cell biological experiments, as well as biophysical and structural biology 

techniques, including small angle neutron and x-ray scattering, to study the interactions of these 

proteins. We also develop methods of utilizing quasielastic neutron scattering, particularly neutron spin 
echo (NSE) spectroscopy, to study protein dynamics and protein domain motion. We have developed a 

theoretical framework using statistical mechanics to interpret the NSE data. These methods allow us to 

see, for the first time, the structure and dynamics of significant protein interactions on nanometer scales. 

NSE fills an important information gap in our ability to study protein motion on sub-microsecond time 

scales and on nanomenter length scales.

Selected Publications

• Bhattacharya S, Ju JH, Orlova N, Khajeh JA, Cowburn D and Bu Z (2013) Ligand induced 

dynamic changes in extended PDZ domains from NHERF1, J. Mol. Biol. 425, 2509-28.

• Callaway DJ, Farago B and Bu Z (2013) Nanoscale protein dynamics: A new frontier for neutron 

spin echo spectroscopy, EPJE-Soft Matter & Biological Physics, 36, 76.

• Jayasundar JJ, Ju JH, He L, Liu D, Meilleur F, Zhao J, Callaway DJ and Bu Z (2012) Open 

Conformation of Ezrin Bound to Phosphatidylinositol 4,5-Bisphosphate and to F-actin Revealed by 

Neutron Scattering, J. Biol. Chem. 287, 37119-33.

• Farago B, Li J, Cornilescu G, Callaway DJE and Bu Z (2010) Activation of Nanoscale Allosteric 

Protein Domain Motion Revealed by Neutron Spin Echo Spectroscopy, Biophys. J. 99, 3473-82.

• Bhattacharya S, Dai Z, Li J, Baxter S, Callaway DJ, Cowburn D and Bu Z (2010) A Conformational

Switch in the Scaffolding Protein NHERF1 Controls Autoinhibition and Complex Formation, J.

Biol. Chem. 285, 9981-94.

• Li J, Callaway DJ and Bu Z (2009) Ezrin Induces Long-range Interdomain Allostery in the 

Scaffolding Protein NHERF1, J. Mol. Biol. 392, 166-80.

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