Feature Story | 9-Sep-2019

Wei-Jun Qian: Then and Now / 2010 Early Career Award Winner

DOE/Pacific Northwest National Laboratory


Redox homeostasis is an essential feature of all living organisms where oxidants and antioxidant defense systems are well balanced. Cellular redox control is a fundamental regulatory mechanism for metabolism, signaling, gene expression, and many other cellular processes. Protein thiols have long been known as the archetypical redox regulatory sites for sensitive control of cellular redox responses through the dynamic formation of different types of redox post-translational modifications on protein thiols. One major challenge in the field is the lack of technology for sensitive reliable detection of protein redox modifications for studying redox signaling. This Office of Science Early Career Award served as a timely opportunity to address this important challenge in redox biology. In particular, the Award has allowed us to develop an innovative mass spectrometry-based redox proteomics capability for quantitative measurements of protein redox modifications at a broad scale. Moreover, the Award supported the development of a highly sensitive targeted mass spectrometry technology for multiplex quantification of low-abundance protein markers in signaling pathways. Overall, these new capabilities enable broad biological applications such as photosynthesis and regulation in microbial and plant organisms as well as biomedical challenges relevant to national science missions.


Wei-Jun Qian is a staff scientist and team lead in the Integrative Omics group in the Biological Sciences Division of the Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory.

SUPPORTING THE DOE SC MISSION: The Early Career Award program provides financial support that is foundational to young scientists, freeing them to focus on executing their research goals. The development of outstanding scientists early in their careers is of paramount importance to the Department of Energy Office of Science. By investing in the next generation of researchers, the Office of Science champions lifelong careers in discovery science.

For more information, please go to the Early Career Research Program page.


Spatial and Temporal Proteomics for Characterizing Protein Dynamics and Posttranslational Modifications

This project aims to develop a suite of quantitative proteomics technologies that enable spatially?resolved measurements of subcellular protein abundance changes and the dynamics of posttranslational modifications in environmental eukaryotes to gain understanding of the regulation of cellular function. The research will integrate subcellular fractionation, posttranslational modifications, and quantitative proteomics technologies to establish a general approach for enabling spatial and temporal proteomics. The effectiveness and utility of these technologies for biological applications will be demonstrated using the filamentous fungus, Aspergillus niger, an organism that plays an important role in biofuel production and global carbon cycling, to attain a better understanding of how its morphology is regulated. The unique suite of technologies will have broad application in diverse studies of microbial and plant organisms and in systems biology studies aimed at better understanding of cellular machineries. Such capabilities not only provide core value for current systems biology efforts, but they also add unique datasets for refining gene models, genome annotation, and future predictive modeling.


J. Guo, M.J. Gaffrey, D. Su, T. Liu, D. G. Camp II, R.D. Smith, W.J. Qian, "Resin-assisted enrichment of thiols as a general strategy for proteomic profiling of cysteine-based reversible modifications," Nat Protoc 9: 64-75 (2014). [DOI: 10.1038/nprot.2013.161]

T. Shi, T.L. Fillmore, X. Sun, R. Zhao, A.A. Schepmoes, M. Hossain, F. Xie, S. Wu, J.S. Kim, N. Jones, R.J. Moore, L. Pasa-Tolic, J. Kagan, K.D. Rodland, T. Liu, K. Tang, D.G. Camp II, R.D. Smith, W.J. Qian, "Antibody-free, targeted mass-spectrometric approach for quantification of proteins at low picogram per milliliter levels in human plasma/serum," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 109, 38 (2012). [DOI: 10.1073/pnas.1204366109]

J. Guo, A.Y. Nguyen, Z. Dai, D. Su, M.J. Gaffrey, R.J. Moore, J.M. Jacobs, M.E. Monroe, R.D. Smith, D.W. Koppenaal, H.B. Pakrasi, W.J. Qian, "Proteome-wide Light/Dark Modulation of Thiol Oxidation in Cyanobacteria Revealed by Quantitative Site-specific Redox Proteomics," Mol Cell Proteomics 13: 3270-3285. (2014). DOI: 10.1074/mcp.M114.041160.

Read additional highlights of the 2010 Early Career Award winners: https://www.energy.gov/science/listings/early-career-program.

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