Jing-Ke Weng

Jing-Ke Weng

Associate Professor of Biology; Member, Whitehead Institute

Jing-Ke Weng studies metabolic evolution in plants and explores the remarkable plant chemodiversity for new commodity chemicals and medicines.

617-324-4921

Phone

WI-361C

Office

Heather Ferguson

Assistant

617-258-5671

Assistant Phone

Education

  • PhD, 2009, Purdue University
  • BS, 2003, Biotechnology, Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China

Research Summary

We probe the origin and evolution of plant metabolism, as well as how plants exploit discrete small molecules to interact with their surrounding environments. We also use plant natural products with specific medicinal properties as chemical probes to query human disorders like metabolic syndromes and protein-misfolding diseases. Ultimately, we hope to elucidate the molecular mechanisms underlying the "matrix effect" evident in many traditional herbal remedies.

Awards

  • Purdue University Distinguished Agriculture Alumni Award, 2021
  • The Smith Family Foundation Odyssey Award, 2018
  • Scialog Fellow, 2018
  • Beckman Young Investigator Award, 2016
  • Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellow, 2016
  • Searle Scholar, 2015
  • Pew Scholar in the Biomedical Sciences, 2014
  • American Society of Plant Biologists Early Career Award, 2014
  • Tansley Medal for Excellence in Plant Science, 2013

Key Publications

  1. Structural basis for divergent and convergent evolution of catalytic machineries in plant aromatic amino acid decarboxylase proteins. Torrens-Spence, MP, Chiang, YC, Smith, T, Vicent, MA, Wang, Y, Weng, JK. 2020. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 117, 10806-10817.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1920097117PMID:32371491
  2. PBS3 and EPS1 Complete Salicylic Acid Biosynthesis from Isochorismate in Arabidopsis. Torrens-Spence, MP, Bobokalonova, A, Carballo, V, Glinkerman, CM, Pluskal, T, Shen, A, Weng, JK. 2019. Mol Plant 12, 1577-1586.
    doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2019.11.005PMID:31760159
  3. The biosynthetic origin of psychoactive kavalactones in kava. Pluskal, T, Torrens-Spence, MP, Fallon, TR, De Abreu, A, Shi, CH, Weng, JK. 2019. Nat Plants 5, 867-878.
    doi: 10.1038/s41477-019-0474-0PMID:31332312
  4. The molecular structure of plant sporopollenin. Li, FS, Phyo, P, Jacobowitz, J, Hong, M, Weng, JK. 2019. Nat Plants 5, 41-46.
    doi: 10.1038/s41477-018-0330-7PMID:30559416
  5. Gene-guided discovery and engineering of branched cyclic peptides in plants. Kersten, RD, Weng, JK. 2018. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 115, E10961-E10969.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1813993115PMID:30373830

Recent Publications

  1. Adaptive mechanisms of plant specialized metabolism connecting chemistry to function. Weng, JK, Lynch, JH, Matos, JO, Dudareva, N. 2021. Nat Chem Biol 17, 1037-1045.
    doi: 10.1038/s41589-021-00822-6PMID:34552220
  2. Editorial overview: Advancing basic plant research and crop improvement through cutting-edge biotechnologies. Qi, Y, Weng, JK. 2021. Curr Opin Plant Biol 60, 102069.
    doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2021.102069PMID:34090654
  3. Imine chemistry in plant metabolism. Torrens-Spence, MP, Glinkerman, CM, Günther, J, Weng, JK. 2021. Curr Opin Plant Biol 60, 101999.
    doi: 10.1016/j.pbi.2020.101999PMID:33450608
  4. Evidence for de novo Biosynthesis of the Luminous Substrate Coelenterazine in Ctenophores. Bessho-Uehara, M, Huang, W, Patry, WL, Browne, WE, Weng, JK, Haddock, SHD. 2020. iScience 23, 101859.
    doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2020.101859PMID:33376974
  5. Precision Delivery of Multiscale Payloads to Tissue-Specific Targets in Plants. Cao, Y, Lim, E, Xu, M, Weng, JK, Marelli, B. 2020. Adv Sci (Weinh) 7, 1903551.
    doi: 10.1002/advs.201903551PMID:32670750
  6. Laboratory culture of the California Sea Firefly Vargula tsujii (Ostracoda: Cypridinidae): Developing a model system for the evolution of marine bioluminescence. Goodheart, JA, Minsky, G, Brynjegard-Bialik, MN, Drummond, MS, Munoz, JD, Fallon, TR, Schultz, DT, Weng, JK, Torres, E, Oakley, TH et al.. 2020. Sci Rep 10, 10443.
    doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-67209-wPMID:32591605
  7. Partitioning of cancer therapeutics in nuclear condensates. Klein, IA, Boija, A, Afeyan, LK, Hawken, SW, Fan, M, Dall'Agnese, A, Oksuz, O, Henninger, JE, Shrinivas, K, Sabari, BR et al.. 2020. Science 368, 1386-1392.
    doi: 10.1126/science.aaz4427PMID:32554597
  8. Plant Solutions for the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond: Historical Reflections and Future Perspectives. Weng, JK. 2020. Mol Plant 13, 803-807.
    doi: 10.1016/j.molp.2020.05.014PMID:32442649
  9. Structural basis for divergent and convergent evolution of catalytic machineries in plant aromatic amino acid decarboxylase proteins. Torrens-Spence, MP, Chiang, YC, Smith, T, Vicent, MA, Wang, Y, Weng, JK. 2020. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 117, 10806-10817.
    doi: 10.1073/pnas.1920097117PMID:32371491
  10. The chloroalkaloid (-)-acutumine is biosynthesized via a Fe(II)- and 2-oxoglutarate-dependent halogenase in Menispermaceae plants. Kim, CY, Mitchell, AJ, Glinkerman, CM, Li, FS, Pluskal, T, Weng, JK. 2020. Nat Commun 11, 1867.
    doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-15777-wPMID:32313070
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Photo credit: Gretchen Ertl/Whitehead Institute