One focus of our laboratory is the study of visual information processing in the retina. We are particularly interested in understanding the roles voltage-dependent membrane channels in visual processing in the mammalian retina. Our recent studies indicate that there is a heterogeneous expression of a number of voltage-dependent membrane channels among different bipolar cell types. Current ongoing studies are directed toward addressing the functional aspects of these membrane channels in retinal information processing. Another focus of the laboratory is to develop an optogenetic approach to treating blindness caused by photoreceptor degeneration. We are exploring the functional expression of microbial rhodopsins, such as channelrhodopsin-2 and halorhodopsin, in inner retinal neurons for restoring light sensitivity to retinas lacking photoreceptors. Our recent studies demonstrated that expression of channelrhodopsin-2 in surviving inner retinal neurons of a photoreceptor-deficient mouse model can restore the ability of the retina to encode light signals and transmit the light signals to the visual cortex. We have also shown that co-expression of channelrhodopsin-2 and halorhodopsin can restore ON and OFF light responses in the retina. The long-term goal of this project is aimed at developing an effective treatment to cure blindness caused by photoreceptor degeneration. The techniques used in our studies include molecular biology, electrophysiological recordings, immunocytochemistry, viral-based gene targeting, and animal behavior.
I teach Medical Neuroscience for Year I medical students and Biology of the Eye course (course director) for graduate/undergraduate.
- 2001 Faculty Research Excellence Award, Wayne State University School of Medicine
- 2004 Career Development Chair Award, Wayne State University
- 2006 Grant recipient, Hope for Vision
- 2007 Board of Governors Faculty Recognition Award, Wayne State University
- 2009 Visionary Award, Hope for Vision
1. Bi, A., Cui, J., Ma, Y.-P., Olshevskaya, E., Pu, M., Dizhoor, A.M., and Pan Z.-H. Ectopic expression of a microbial-type rhodopsin restores visual responses in mice with photoreceptor degeneration. Neuron 50:23-33, 2006 (PMCID: PMC16600853).
2. Cui, J. and Pan Z.-H. Two types of cone bipolar cells express voltage-gated Na+ channels in the rat retina. Visual Neurosci. 25: 635-645, 2008 (PMCID: PMC2650833).
3. Hu, C., Bi, A, and Pan Z.-H. Differential expression of three T-type calcium channels in retinal bipolar cells in rat. Visual Neurosci. 26:177-187, 2009 (PMCID: PMC2763639).
4. Zhang, Y., Ivanova, E., Bi, A., and Pan, Z.-H. Ectopic expression of multiple microbial rhodopsins restores ON and OFF light responses in the retina after photoreceptor degeneration. Journal of Neurosci. 29:9186-96, 2009 (PMCID: PMC2774241).
5. Lu, Q., Ivanova, E., and Pan Z.-H. Characterization of GFP-expressing retinal cone bipolar cells in a 5-HTR2a transgenic mouse line. Neurosci. 163:662-668, 2009 (PMCID: PMC2769501).
6. Ivanova, E., Bi, A., and Pan, Z.-H. Evaluation of virus mediated long-term expression of channelrhodopsin-2 in the mouse retina. Mol. Vision 15:1680-1689, 2009 (PMCID: PMC2730750).
7. Ivanova, E., Hwang, G.S. and Pan, Z.-H. Characterization of transgenic mouse lines expressing Cre-recombinase in the retina. Neurosci. 165: 233-243, 2010 (PMCID: PMC2790531).
8. Ivanova, E., Hwang, G.-S., Pan, Z.-H., and Troilo, D. Evaluation of AAV-mediated expression of chop2-GFP in the marmoset retina. IOVS 51: 5288-5296, 2010 (PMCID: PMC2939198).
9. Ivanova, E, Roberts, R. Bissig, D., Pan, Z.-H., and Berkowitz, B.A. Retinal and optic nerve channelrhodopsin-2-mediated activity in vivo evaluated with manganese-enhanced MRI. Mol. Vision 16:1059-67, 2010 (PMCID: PMC2893056).