Zhang, Michael

Michael Zhang

Address: 2234B MERF
Phone: (319) 335-7597
Email: michael-zhang@uiowa.edu

Mentor: Jon C. Houtman, PhD

Undergraduate Institution: University of Iowa

Year Entered Into Program: 2013

Research Description

Glycerol Monolaurate (GML) is a nontoxic natural compound that has significant antibacterial and antiviral activities. The drug has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its potency against gram positive cocci and Bacillus anthracis. A possible mechanism of action of GML is the interference of plasma membrane and subsequent bacterial protein signaling. GML is also virucidal against many enveloped viruses by interfering with viral fusion to mammalian cells.

My project focuses on the finding that GML has been shown to inhibit T lymphocyte proliferation in the context of superantigen induced toxic shock syndrome. Inositol phosphate 3 (IP3) levels have been shown to decrease following GML administration. This finding suggests that GML is inhibiting T cell proliferation through intracellular mechanisms. The goal of my project is to characterize the molecular signaling mechanism of how GML inhibits T lymphocyte proliferation.


Hassan IH, Zhang MS, Powers LS, Shao JQ, Baltrusaitis J, Rutkowski DT, Legge K, Monick MM. Influenza A viral replication is blocked by inhibition of the inositol-requiring enzyme 1 (IRE1) stress pathway. J Biol Chem. 2012 Feb 10;287(7):4679-89. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M111.284695. Epub 2011 Dec 22. PubMed PMID: 22194594; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3281634.

Monick MM, Powers LS, Walters K, Lovan N, Zhang M, Gerke A, Hansdottir S, Hunninghake GW. Identification of an autophagy defect in smokers' alveolar macrophages. J Immunol. 2010 Nov 1;185(9):5425-35. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1001603. Epub 2010 Oct 4. PubMed PMID: 20921532; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3057181.