Zhe Chen, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Neuroscience

Zhe Chen

Contact Info


Office Phone 612-624-3519

Office Address:
273 Lions Research Building


Dr. Chen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Neuroscience. Her research investigates the development of nerve projections that regulate reward and motivation. Miswiring of these neural circuits can negatively impact self-control and addictive behaviors. Dr. Chen’s lab utilizes a combination of molecular, genetic, and imaging approaches.


neural development, neuronal migration, axon guidance, synapse formation,regulation of cell signaling


Research Summary/Interests

Molecular mechanism of neural development (neuronal migration, axon guidance, and synapse formation), pathogenesis of neurological disorders (agenesis of corpus callosum, split brain syndrome), and regulation of cell signaling.


Johnson, V, Junge, HJ & Chen, Z 2019, 'Temporal regulation of axonal repulsion by alternative splicing of a conserved microexon in mammalian robo1 and Robo2' eLife, vol. 8, e46042. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.46042

Chen, Z 2019, 'Common cues wire the spinal cord: Axon guidance molecules in spinal neuron migration' Seminars in Cell and Developmental Biology, vol. 85, pp. 71-77. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.semcdb.2017.12.012

Zhang, C, Lai, MB, Pedler, M, Johnson, V, Adams, RH, Petrash, JM, Chen, Z & Junge, HJ 2018 'Endothelial cell-specific inactivation of TSPAN12 reveals pathological consequences of blood-retina barrier defects in an otherwise intact vasculature' Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol, vol. 38, pp. 00-00. https://doi.org/10.1161/ATVBAHA.118.311689

Chen, Z 2018 'Common cues wire the spinal cord: axon guidance molecules that regulate spinal neuron migration' Review. Seminars in Cell & Developmental Biology, pii: S1084- 9521(17)30302-6. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.semcdb.2017.12.012

Zhang, C, Lai, MB, Khandan, L, Chen, Z & Junge, HJ 2017, ‘Norrin-induced Frizzled4 endocytosis and endo-lysosomal trafficking control retinal angiogenesis and barrier function’ Nature communications, vol. 8, p. 16050. https://doi.org/10.1038/ncomms16050

Lai, MB, Zhang, C, Shi, J, Johnson, V, Khandan, L, McVey, J, Klymkowsky, MW, Chen, Z & Junge, HJ 2017, 'TSPAN12 is a Norrin co-receptor that amplifies Frizzled4 ligand selectivity and signaling' Cell reports, vol. 19, no. 13, pp. 2809-2822. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.celrep.2017.06.004

Junge, HJ, Yung, AR, Goodrich, LV & Chen, Z 2016, 'Netrin1/DCC signaling promotes neuronal migration in the dorsal spinal cord' Neural Development' vol. 11, no. 1, p. 19. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13064-016-0074-x

Leggere, JC, Saito, Y, Darnell, RB, Tessier-Lavigne, M, Junge, HJ & Chen, Z 2016, 'NOVA regulates Dcc alternative splicing during neuronal migration and axon guidance in the spinal cord' Elife, vol. 5, p. e14264. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.14264

Saito, Y, Miranda-Rottmann, S, Ruggiu, M, Park, CY, Fak, JJ, Zhong, R, Duncan, JS, Fabella, BA, Junge, HJ, Chen, Z, Araya, R, Fritzsch, B, Hudspeth, AJ & Darnell, RB 2016, 'NOVA2-mediated RNA regulation is required for axonal pathfinding during development' Elife, vol. 5, p. e14371. https://doi.org/10.7554/eLife.14371

Johnson, V, Xiang, M, Chen, Z & Junge, HJ 2015, 'Neurite mistargeting and inverse order of intraretinal vascular plexus formation precede subretinal vascularization in VLDLR mutant mice' PLoS ONE, vol. 10, no. 7, p. e0132013. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0132013