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Ji Sun, PhD
Ji Sun, PhD

Ji Sun, PhD

Assistant Member, St. Jude Faculty



BS – University of Science and Technology of China, Hefei China
PhD – University of Washington, Seattle WA

Research Interests

Membrane proteins play an essential role in maintaining integrity of a cell. They are responsible for detecting and responding to environmental stimuli, maintaining ion hemostasis and catalyzing chemical reactions at the membrane interface. My lab focuses on understanding how membrane proteins mediate these processes, using structural, biochemical, biophysical and pharmacological approaches. By probing their molecular structures at finest atomic details, we strive to understand how membrane proteins work, what goes wrong in human diseases and how pharmacological tools could modulate their function, serving as potential therapeutics.

  • Structural and pharmacological studies of KCNQ channels
  • Molecular mechanisms of KCNQ channel modulation and gating
  • Molecular basis of enzymatic reactions at the membrane interface

Selected Publications

Jiang M, Palicharla VR, Miller D, Hwang SH, Zhu H, Hixson P, Mukhopadhyay S, Sun J. Human IFT-A complex structures provide molecular insights into ciliary transport. Cell Res Apr;33(4):288-298, 2023. doi: 10.1038/s41422-023-00778-3. PMID: 36775821

Filippini F, Nola S, Zahraoui A, Roger K, Esmaili M, Sun J, Wojnacki J, Vlieghe A, Bun P, Blanchon S, Rain JC, Taymans JM, Chartier-Harlin MC, Guerrera C, Galli T. Secretion of VGF relies on the interplay between LRRK2 and post-Golgi v-SNAREs. Cell Rep Mar 28;42(3):112221, 2023. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2023.112221. PMID: 36905628

Li C, Zhu H, Jin S, Maksoud LM, Jain N, Sun J*, Gao Y*.Structural basis of DNA polymerase θ mediated DNA end joining. Nucleic Acids Res Jan 11;51(1):463-474, 2023. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkac1201. PMID: 36583344 (*co-corresponding author)

Sun D, Sang Z, Kim YJ, Xiang Y, Cohen T, Belford AK, Huet A, Conway JF, Sun J, Taylor DJ, Schneidman-Duhovny D, Zhang C, Huang W, Shi Y. Potent neutralizing nanobodies resist convergent circulating variants of SARS-CoV-2 by targeting diverse and conserved epitopes. Nat Commun Aug 3;12(1):4676, 2021. doi: 10.1038/s41467-021-24963-3. PMID: 34344900

Liu H, Sun D, Myasnikov A, Damian M, Baneres J, Sun J*, Zhang C*. Structural basis of human ghrelin receptor signaling by ghrelin and the synthetic agonist ibutamoren. Nature Communications 12:6410, 2021. (*corresponding author)

Myasnikov A, Zhu H, Hixson, P, Xie B, Yu K, Pitre A, Peng J, Sun J. Structural analysis of the full-length human LRRK2. Cell 184:3519–3527, 2021.

Sun J. Structures of mouse DUOX1–DUOXA1 provide mechanistic insights into enzyme activation and regulation. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology 27:1086–1093, 2020

Sun J and MacKinnon R. Structural Basis of Human KCNQ1 Modulation and Gating. Cell 180:1-8, 2020.

Sun J and MacKinnon R. Cryo-EM Structure of a KCNQ1/CaM Complex Reveals Insights into Congenital Long QT Syndrome. Cell 169(6): 1042-1050, 2017.

Li H, Lim KS, Kim H, Hinds TR, Jo U, Mao H, Weller CE, Sun J, Chatterjee C, D’Andrea AD, Zheng N. Allosteric Activation of Ubiquitin-Specific Proteases by β-Propeller Proteins UAF1 and WDR20. Molecular Cell 63:1-12, 2016.

Sun J* and Zheng N*. Molecular Mechanism Underlying the Plant NRT1.1 Dual-Affinity Nitrate Transporter. Frontiers in Physiology 6(386) 2015 (*Co-corresponding author).

Sun J, Bankston JR, Hinds TR, Payandeh J, Zagotta WN, and Zheng N. Crystal Structure of the Plant Dual-affinity Transporter NRT1.1. Nature 507(7490): 73-77, 2014 (Highlighted by News and Views in Nature and recommended by F1000).

Zhou Q, Sun J, Zhai Y, and Sun F. Prokaryotic Expression of Active Mitochondrial Uncoupling Protein 1. Progress in Biochemistry and Biophysics 37(1): 56-62. 2010.

Last update: November 2023