Jinwei Zhang, Ph.D.

Senior Investigator

Structural Biology of Noncoding RNAs and Ribonucleoproteins Section, Laboratory of Molecular Biology


Building NIHBC 50, Room 4503
50 South Dr
Bethesda, MD 20892

+1 301 402 4703


Research Topics

The goal of our research is to gain a detailed structural and mechanistic understanding of cellular and viral noncoding RNAs and their associated ribonucleoprotein complexes involved in gene regulation and human diseases. We are working to uncover general motifs and principles that govern RNA tertiary structure formation, RNA recognition by another RNA or protein, and how dynamic RNA structures contribute to the regulation of gene expression and human pathophysiology.

Current Research

  1. Structures and mechanisms of diverse bacterial T-box riboswitches
  2. Specific tRNA recognition by host and viral proteins and RNAs
  3. Differential regulation of antiviral protein PKR by host and viral RNAs

Applying our Research

Structural and mechanistic elucidation of functionally important host noncoding RNAs and viral RNAs will inform and guide design of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies against bacterial and viral infections, metabolic and autoimmune disorders, and several cancers.

Need for Further Study

Our research aims to help illuminate the molecular structure, function, and mechanisms of the “dark matter” of the transcriptome, the non-coding RNAs that execute various cellular functions, as well as viral RNA structures that enable viral replication and infectivity. Detailed understanding of these non-coding structured RNAs and their interactions will lead to novel therapeutics that improve human health.


  • Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator, NIDDK, NIH, 2015-2022
  • Research Fellow, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, NIH, 2011-2015
  • Research Associate, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, 2009-2011
  • Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009
  • B.S., Peking University, 2002

Selected Publications

  1. Bou-Nader C, Bothra A, Garboczi DN, Leppla SH, Zhang J. Structural basis of R-loop recognition by the S9.6 monoclonal antibody. Nat Commun. 2022;13(1):1641.
  2. Bou-Nader C, Muecksch F, Brown JB, Gordon JM, York A, Peng C, Ghirlando R, Summers MF, Bieniasz PD, Zhang J. HIV-1 matrix-tRNA complex structure reveals basis for host control of Gag localization. Cell Host Microbe. 2021;29(9):1421-1436.e7.
  3. Suddala KC, Zhang J. High-affinity recognition of specific tRNAs by an mRNA anticodon-binding groove. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2019;26(12):1114-1122.
  4. Li S, Su Z, Lehmann J, Stamatopoulou V, Giarimoglou N, Henderson FE, Fan L, Pintilie GD, Zhang K, Chen M, Ludtke SJ, Wang YX, Stathopoulos C, Chiu W, Zhang J. Structural basis of amino acid surveillance by higher-order tRNA-mRNA interactions. Nat Struct Mol Biol. 2019;26(12):1094-1105.
  5. Hood IV, Gordon JM, Bou-Nader C, Henderson FE, Bahmanjah S, Zhang J. Crystal structure of an adenovirus virus-associated RNA. Nat Commun. 2019;10(1):2871.

Related Scientific Focus Areas

This page was last updated on Wednesday, January 10, 2024