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The Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering

Faculty & Staff

Wen-ji Dong

Wen-ji Dong

Wen-ji Dong, Ph.D.
Associate Professor

Cardiac muscle biology and mechanics; protein chemistry and engineering; fluorescence technique development; biosensor for biological and cellular applications; fluorescent material developments for solar energy harvest applications; and novel solar concentrator research and applications

Dr. Dong’s web page at WSU College of Veterinary Medicine

Office: VBR 271 / 109 Wegner Hall 📞509-335-5798
Lab: McCoy North 201 (📞509-335-5937)

The Gene and Linda Voiland
School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering
1505 Stadium Way, Room 105
P.O. Box 646515
Washington State University
Pullman, WA 99164-6515

Graduate Students

Nazanin Bohlooli
Shuang Guo
Erhan Keles
William Schlecht

Research Interests

Research in my lab is multi-disciplinary. The primary objective of our research is to understand the Ca2+ switching mechanism of cardiac myofilament in healthy and diseased hearts. Cardiac muscle contraction is initiated by Ca2+ binding to cardiac troponin C triggering a series of functional structural changes within the thin filament. These serious structural transitions are regulated by both Ca2+ binding and cross-bridge cycling, and modulated by protein phosphorylation and cardiomyopathy mutations. A full understanding of these mechanisms is critical for research efforts to prevent, diagnose, and treat myocardial diseases. In our research we use various fluorescence spectroscopic approaches, including FRET, to acquire detailed functional, structural, thermodynamic, and kinetic knowledge associated with those thin filament structural transitions at the level of single regulatory unit, the fully reconstituted thin filament preparations and the chemically skinned muscle fibers. These studies will provide insights into mechanistic alterations of cardiac regulation in diseased heart, which may ultimately lead to design a fluorescence assay to screen drug candidates of Ca2+ sensitizer, a promising therapeutic drug for treatment of heart failure.

The second objective of our research is to design and develop various sensors for biological and cellular research and future clinical applications. One example is to develop an ultra-sensitive assay to establish PKA-phosphorylated cTnI (p-cTnI) in blood serum samples as potential cardiac biomarker for early heart disease detection.

The third objective of our research is to develop novel luminescent materials and approaches for solar energy harvest applications, including wavelength-shifting materials and novel solar concentrators.

Biographical Information

Dr. Dong received a B.S. in chemistry in 1982, an M.S. in inorganic chemistry in 1985 from Lanzhou University, P.R. China. He received a scholarship from British Council of United Kingdom for studies at the University of London, England and obtained a Ph.D. in physical chemistry in 1992. From 1993-1994 he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Chemistry of the University of Western Ontario, Canada. He moved to the University of Alabama at Birmingham where he was a Research Fellow of the Muscular Dystrophy Association from 1994–1996; a Research Instructor from 1996–2001; and a Research Assistant Professor from 2001–2005. He joined the faculty of Washington State University as an Assistant Professor in the Gene and Linda Voiland School of Chemical Engineering and Bioengineering and IPN in 2006 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2010.

Selected Publications

(See full publication list at Google Scholar)

  1. Schlecht, W., et al., Fluorescence based characterization of calcium sensitizer action on the troponin complex. Chemical biology & drug design, 2016. 87(2): p. 171-181.
  2. Pulcastro, H.C., et al., Increased titin compliance reduced length-dependent contraction and slowed cross-bridge kinetics in skinned myocardial strips from Rbm20ΔRRM mice. Frontiers in Physiology, 2016.
  3. Li, Y., et al., A structurally modified perylene dye for efficient luminescent solar concentrators. Solar Energy, 2016. 136: p. 668-674.
  4. Li, K.-L., et al., Sarcomere length dependent effects on the interaction between cTnC and cTnI in skinned papillary muscle strips. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics, 2016. 601: p. 69-79.
  5. Keles, E., et al., Recent progress in nanomaterials for gene delivery applications. Biomaterials Science, 2016. 4(9): p. 1291-1309.
  6. Li, Y., J. Olsen, and W.-J. Dong, Enhancing the output current of a CdTe solar cell via a CN-free hydrocarbon luminescent down-shifting fluorophore with intramolecular energy transfer and restricted internal rotation characteristics. Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences, 2015. 14(4): p. 833-841.
  7. Li, Y. and W.-J. Dong. Estimating the theoretical limit of the power conversion efficiency of a luminescent solar concentrator device from the perspective of Shockley-Queisser limit. in Photovoltaic Specialist Conference (PVSC), 2015 IEEE 42nd. 2015. IEEE.
  8. Chen, W., et al., A specific nucleophilic ring-opening reaction of aziridines as a unique platform for the construction of hydrogen polysulfides sensors. Organic letters, 2015. 17(11): p. 2776-2779.
  9. Schlecht, W., et al., FRET study of the structural and kinetic effects of PKC phosphomimetic cardiac troponin T mutants on thin filament regulation. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics, 2014. 550: p. 1-11.
  10. Li, Y., et al., Rational design of tetraphenylethylene-based luminescent down-shifting molecules: photophysical studies and photovoltaic applications in a CdTe solar cell from small to large units. Physical Chemistry Chemical Physics, 2014. 16(47): p. 26193-26202.
  11. Li, Y. and W.-J. Dong. Theoretical modeling on luminescent down-shifting process: A Discussion on luminescent molecule design. in 2014 IEEE 40th Photovoltaic Specialist Conference (PVSC). 2014. IEEE.
  12. Li, K.-L., et al., In situ time-resolved FRET reveals effects of sarcomere length on cardiac thin-filament activation. Biophysical journal, 2014. 107(3): p. 682-693.
  13. Jayasundar, J.J., et al., Molecular dynamics simulations of the cardiac troponin complex performed with FRET distances as restraints. PloS one, 2014. 9(2): p. e87135.
  14. Jacroux, T., et al., Cationic isotachophoresis separation of the biomarker cardiac troponin I from a high‐abundance contaminant, serum albumin. Electrophoresis, 2014. 35(14): p. 2029-2038.
  15. Zhou, Z., et al., Structural and kinetic effects of hypertrophic cardiomyopathy related mutations R146G/Q and R163W on the regulatory switching activity of rat cardiac troponin I. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics, 2013. 535(1): p. 56-67.
  16. Yang, Z., et al., Structure control classification and optimization model of hollow carbon nanosphere core polymer particle based on improved differential evolution support vector machine. Applied Mathematical Modeling, 2013. 37(12): p. 7442-7451.
  17. Rieck, D.C., et al., Structural basis for the in situ Ca 2+ sensitization of cardiac troponin C by positive feedback from force-generating myosin cross-bridges. Archives of biochemistry and biophysics, 2013. 537(2): p. 198-209.
  18. Na, T., et al., Disease-causing R1185C mutation of WNK4 disrupts a regulatory mechanism involving calmodulin binding and SGK1 phosphorylation sites. American Journal of Physiology-Renal Physiology, 2013. 304(1): p. F8-F18.
  19. Li, Y., T. Ren, and W.-J. Dong, Tuning photophysical properties of triphenylamine and aromatic cyano conjugate-based wavelength-shifting compounds by manipulating intramolecular charge transfer strength. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology A: Chemistry, 2013. 251: p. 1-9.
  20. Li, Y., et al., Increasing the power output of a CdTe solar cell via luminescent down shifting molecules with intramolecular charge transfer and aggregation-induced emission characteristics. Energy & Environmental Science, 2013. 6(10): p. 2907-2911.
  21. Jacroux, T., et al., Enzymatic amplification of DNA/RNA hybrid molecular beacon signaling in nucleic acid detection. Analytical biochemistry, 2013. 432(2): p. 106-114.