Student Highlight: Baisen Zeng

Image of Baisen Zeng

On Jan. 10, 2019, Baisen (Sam) Zeng successfully defended his dissertation titled A Structural and Biochemical Study on Ric-8A, an Intracellular GEF and Folding Chaperone for Gαi1

Baisen’s abstract reads:

Heterotrimeric G-proteins (Gαβγ) regulate many cellular processes in the G-protein signaling pathways. The α-subunit (Gα) in the heterotrimer is activated by G-protein-coupled receptors (GPCR) as its guanine-nucleotide exchange factor (GEF), which catalyze the GDP release and GTP binding reactions at Gα nucleotide-binding site, at the cell membrane. Intracellular GEFs for Gα subunits have been identified; among them, the mammalian isoform A of resistance to inhibitors of cholinesterase-8 (Ric-8A) catalyzes nucleotide exchange and functions as a folding chaperone for inhibitory Gα (Gαi1). In a nucleotide-free complex with Gαi1, Ric-8A likely assumes the GEF and chaperone roles by inducing a molten globule-like state. Tall et al. recently discovered that Casein Kinase II phosphorylates Ric-8A at two conserved sites (S435 and T440), which upon phosphorylation, elevates both the GEF and chaperone activities.

Baisen’s dissertation is published on UM’s ScholarWorks.

During Baisen’s tenure with the Biochemistry and Biophysics program, he contributed to a handful of publications, two of which are currently in preparation and a notable manuscript being:

Baisen participated in several conferences, workshops, courses, and presentations:

  • 2012-2018 Annual CBSD Research Symposiums (Poster Presentations),
  • 2016 Gordon Research Conference in Phosphorylation & G-Protein Mediated Signaling Networks (Conference Poster Presentation),
  • 2017 RapiData at SSRL - Data Collection and Structure Solving: A Practical Course in Macromolecular X-Ray Diffraction Measurement (Workshop Completion),
  • 2018 ASCB-KGI Biotech Course - Managing Science in the Biotech Industry: An Intensive Course for Students and Postdocs (Course Completion).

In his free time, Baisen is a fishing fanatic (conventional and ice fishing, no fly fishing) and enjoys participating in semi-competitive badminton, playing video games, and composting (mainly for fishing bait). “I grew up in Shanghai, a large city in China, and have lived in California cities like Oakland, Cupertino, Alameda, and Davis. I realized that I am not a huge fan of crowded urban environments. I enjoy the natural habitats and outdoor activities Missoula offers. The people here are overall nicer and less ‘on-edge.’”

Congratulations, Dr. Baisen Zeng!