Zezhang (Tom) Wen, PhD
School of Dentistry (SOD)
Ph.D. Molecular Microbiology - 1998
Dr. Wen received his PhD in Molecular Microbiology from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, NE in May 1998. He worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Rochester Center for Oral Biology, Rochester, New York from 1998 to 2001 and as a Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Oral Biology at the University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida from 2001 to 2008. Dr. Wen joined the faculty at LSU Health Sciences Center in May 26, 2008 as an Assistant Professor with a primary appointment in the Department of Oral and Craniofacial Biology.
The focus of Dr. Wen’s research is on molecular characterization of oral biofilms and identification of novel strategies against human dental caries. Major efforts are directed towards (i) identification of genes required for biofilm formation by Streptococcus mutans, the key etiological agent of human dental caries, (ii) characterization of bacterial cell-cell communication and its impact on S. mutans establishment and persistence on the tooth surface, and (iii) identification of natural compounds that are effective against cariogenic biofilms. In addition, Dr. Wen also works with the Xu Group in biomaterial sciences on development of novel antibacterial dental composites.
With the support of NIH/NIDCR, we have recently shown that biofilm regulatory protein BrpA in S. mutans is a surface-associated protein with crucial roles in cell envelope biogenesis, stress tolerance response and biofilm formation, traits critical to pathogenicity of this bacterium. Current efforts in this area are centered on regulation of BrpA expression by transposon mutagenesis and PCR-based techniques, identification of proteins that interact with BrpA by using yeast-two-hybrid system, and identification of small molecules that modulate BrpA-mediated virulence. In a collaborative effort, a systems biology approach that integrates transcriptomics and metabolomics with a multiple-species consortium is also being used to elucidate interactions between S. mutans, Streptococcus sanguinis, a commensal bacterium, and Lactobacillus casei, the bacterium first implicated in caries formation, and the impact of community composition and environmental conditions on gene transcription profiles and cariogenicity.
Bitoun, J. P., Liao, S., B. A. McKey, X. Yao, Y. Fan, J. Abranches, W. L. Beatty, and Z. T. Wen. 2013. Psr is involved in regulation of glucan production and double deficiency of BrpA and Psr is lethal in Streptococcus mutans. Microbiol. 159(3): 492-505
Fan, Y. Z.T. Wen, S. Liao, J.L. Hagan, T. Lallier, Z. Sun, and X. Xu. 2012. Novel amelogenin-releasing hydrogel for remineralization of enamel artificial caries. J. Bioactive Compatible Polymers. 27(6):585-603.
Bitoun, J. P., S. Liao, X. Yao, G. G. Xie, and Z. T. Wen. 2012. The redox-sensing regulator Rex modulates central carbon metabolism, stress tolerance response and biofilm formation by Streptococcus mutans. PLoS ONE. 7(9) e44766 (10.1371/journal.pone.0044766).
Bitoun, J. P., S. Liao, X. Yao, S.-J. Ahn, R. Isoda, L. J. Brady, R. A. Burne, J. Abranches, and Z. T. Wen. 2012. BrpA is involved in regulation of cell envelope stress responses in Streptococcus mutans. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 78(8):2914-22.
Xu, X., Y. Wang, S. Liao, L. Chen, Z. T. Wen, and Y. Fan. 2012. Synthesis and characterization of antibacterial dental monomers and composites. J. Biomed. Mater. Res. Appl. Biomater. 100(4):1151-62.
Bitoun, J. P. A. H. Nguyen, Y. Fan, R. A. Burne, and Z. T. Wen. 2011. Transcriptional repressor Rex is involved in regulation of oxidative stress response and biofilm formation by Streptococcus mutans. FEMS Microbiol. Lett. 320(2):110-117.
Wen, Z. T., A. H. Nguyen, J. P. Bitoun, J. Abranches, H. V. Baker, and R. A. Burne, 2011. Transcriptiome analysis of LuxS-deficient Streptococcus mutans grown in biofilms. Molecul. Oral Microbiol. 26(1):2-17.
Wen, Z. T., D. Yates, S. J. Ahn, and R. A. Burne. 2010. Biofilm formation and virulence expression by Streptococcus mutans are altered when grown in dual-species model. BMC Microbiol. 10:111.
Publication at Pubmed (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed?term=wen+zt)