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Personal profile

Research interests

During mammalian development, hundreds of cell types derived from a single zygote are maintained throughout cell cycles. Deregulation of cell identity is often associated with pathogenesis such as cancer. Despite identical genetic information, cells with distinct identity are controlled by the differential epigenetic landscape. Dr. Zhonghua Gao's research interest is to understand how cell identity is established and maintained via epigenetic mechanisms, particularly how Polycomb group complexes are involved in regulating chromatin structure and gene transcription.

Dr. Gao's lab has established an in vitro neuronal differentiation model using both mouse and human embryonic stem cells. These efforts led to an identification and characterization of novel essential component for a sub-type of PRC1 complex.

The lab is currently continuing to investigate how this regulation controls cell fate determination as well as its involvement in diseases such as cancer and autism.

Dr. Gao is part of the Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology program at Penn State College of Medicine.


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Research Output 1999 2019

  • 2532 Citations
  • 19 h-Index
  • 22 Article

Mutant p53 drives clonal hematopoiesis through modulating epigenetic pathway

Chen, S., Wang, Q., Yu, H., Capitano, M. L., Vemula, S., Nabinger, S. C., Gao, R., Yao, C., Kobayashi, M., Geng, Z., Fahey, A., Henley, D., Liu, S. Z., Barajas, S., Cai, W., Wolf, E. R., Ramdas, B., Cai, Z., Gao, H., Luo, N. & 12 others, Sun, Y., Wong, T. N., Link, D. C., Liu, Y., Boswell, H. S., Mayo, L. D., Huang, G., Kapur, R., Yoder, M. C., Broxmeyer, H. E., Gao, Z. & Liu, Y., Dec 1 2019, In : Nature communications. 10, 1, 5649.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Hematopoietic Stem Cells
2 Citations (Scopus)

WDR68 is essential for the transcriptional activation of the PRC1-AUTS2 complex and neuronal differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells

Wang, Q., Geng, Z., Gong, Y., Warren, K., Zheng, H., Imamura, Y. & Gao, Z., Dec 2018, In : Stem Cell Research. 33, p. 206-214 9 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Open Access
Autistic Disorder
Transcriptional Activation
Polycomb Repressive Complex 1
Mouse Embryonic Stem Cells
105 Citations (Scopus)

An AUTS2-Polycomb complex activates gene expression in the CNS

Gao, Z., Lee, P., Stafford, J. M., Schimmelmann, M. V., Schaefer, A. & Reinberg, D., Dec 18 2014, In : Nature. 516, 7531, p. 349-354 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Polycomb Repressive Complex 1
Autistic Disorder
Central Nervous System
Gene Expression
Polycomb-Group Proteins
416 Citations (Scopus)

PCGF Homologs, CBX Proteins, and RYBP Define Functionally Distinct PRC1 Family Complexes

Gao, Z., Zhang, J., Bonasio, R., Strino, F., Sawai, A., Parisi, F., Kluger, Y. & Reinberg, D., Feb 10 2012, In : Molecular cell. 45, 3, p. 344-356 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Embryoid Bodies
Embryonic Stem Cells
82 Citations (Scopus)

L3MBTL2 Protein Acts in Concert with PcG Protein-Mediated Monoubiquitination of H2A to Establish a Repressive Chromatin Structure

Trojer, P., Cao, A. R., Gao, Z., Li, Y., Zhang, J., Xu, X., Li, G., Losson, R., Erdjument-Bromage, H., Tempst, P., Farnham, P. J. & Reinberg, D., May 20 2011, In : Molecular cell. 42, 4, p. 438-450 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Polycomb Repressive Complex 1
Histone Code
RNA Interference