Zhong-Ping Feng

Neuroscience Platform


University of Toronto, 1 King's College, Department of Physiology, Medical Sciences Building Rm. 3306 , Toronto, Ontario Canada M5S 1A8
Research Interests
Synapse formation, synaptic physiology, voltage-dependent calcium channels, ion channels, calcium binding protein, rhythm generation and regulation, neurodevelopmental and neurogenerative disorders.
Fellows, Graduates, Summer Students

Degrees: MD 1983; Ph.D 1998

Research Synopsis

Keywords: Synapse, synapse formation, ion channels, calcium binding proteins, neuronal excitability, central pattern generator, pacemaker neurons, learning and memory, neuronal maturation, stroke, neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain disorder

Detailed Description: At the mature synapse, the presynaptic voltage-dependent calcium channels co-localize with synaptic elements at the active zone. However, the mechanisms underlying development of presynaptic architecture during synapse formation are largely unknown. Since synaptogenesis between identified pre- and postsynaptic neurons in a mammalian system is often difficult to study at a single cell level, our laboratory uses Lymnaea synapse as a model to determine cellular and molecular mechanisms by which voltage-dependent calcium channels and synaptic structural proteins are targeted to specific synaptic sites during synapse formation and synaptic plasticity. We subsequently test whether the mechanisms in invertebrate neurons are also conserved in mammals. We also study the molecular determinants of calcium channel functions and modulation, ion channel basis of rhythm generation and regulation, as well as the role of ion channels and calcium binding proteins in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. The main experimental approaches used in our laboratory include patch clamp recordings, optical imaging, cell culture, immunocytochemical, biochemical and molecular biological techniques.


Cell and tissue culture: Brain slice, hippocampal cells, neurons.

Procedures: Behavioral tests, electrophysiology, gene expression analysis, immunohistochemistry, immunocytochemistry, in vitro electrophysiology, in vivo electrophysiology, intracellular injection, mass spectrometry, micro and macrostimulation of peripheral nerves and central brain structures, microarrays, patch clamp, proteomics, qRT-PCR, RT-PCR, signal transduction characterization, siRNA, stereotaxic brain surgery, voltage clamp, western blot, primary cell culture of Lymnaea neurons, and mouse neurons, neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury


Amplifier, analytical balances, benchtop centrifuge, blotting apparatus, calcium imaging system, confocal microscope, culture hood, culture incubators, digidata, dissecting microscope, electrometer, electrophysiology rig, fluorescence microscope, fresh tissue sectioning systems, gel apparatus, low- and high-speed centrifuge, low and ultralow freezers, micropipette puller, microwave oven, mini vortexer, monochromator, motorized micromanipulators, real-time/thermocycler, setups for electropherosis, stirrer/hot plate, vibratome, water baths


Andrew Barszczyk, PhD student
Wenliang Chen, Postdoc (co-supervisor with Dr. Hong-Shuo Sun)
Marielle Deurloo, PhD student
Nancy  Dong, MSc student
Ji-Sun Kim, MSc student
Ekaterina Turlova, MSc student (advisor)
Haitao Wang, Postdoc
Michael Wu, Undergraduate student
Leo Zhao, PhD student (visiting)


Within the Department of Physiology:
Milton Charlton
Hong-Shuo Sun
Qinghua Wang
Herbert Gaisano
Shuzo Sugita
John Roder
Peter Backx
Evelyn Lambe

Outside the Department of Physiology:
Lucy Osborne, Medicine/UT
Zhaolei Zhang, Banting & Best/UT
Ren-ke Li, Surgery/UT
Terry Snutch, Brain Inst./UBC
Bob French, Physiology/Univ of Calgary
Hwa-Sup Shin, Applied Biochemistry/Konkuk Univ/KoreaGuus Smit, Neurobio/VU Univ/Netherlands
Ronald van Kesteran, Neurobio/VU Univ/Netherlands
Wenhua Zheng, Neuropharmacology/Sun Yat-Sen Univ/China
Guus Smit, Neurobio/VU Univ/Netherlands

Recent Publications