Peng Zhang is interested in the role of extracellular matrix glycans in shaping synaptic properties and brain function. During his Ph.D., Zhang studied the role of O-mannosylated glycans on α-dystroglycan in regulating binding to laminin, and the assembly of the extracellular matrix, which is an underlying pathological mechanism in congenital muscular dystrophies. Subsequently, Zhang extended his interests in this area to the field of synaptic development in Ann Marie Craig’s laboratory. He discovered that neurexins (a class of synaptic adhesion molecules) are modified by a rare type of glycan called heparan sulfate, which is a constituent of the extracellular matrix.
In April 2020, Zhang started his own laboratory in the Department of Neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University. His research aims to delineate roles of structurally distinct glycans in synapse development.