Joseph Zaia, PhD

Professor, Biochemistry & Cell Biology

Joseph Zaia
670 Albany St Biosquare III


The manner in which a cell responds to many growth factor stimuli depends on interactions between glycosaminoglycans (GAGs), growth factors, and growth factor receptors. Extracellular matrix GAGs binds growth factors, creating morphogens gradients essential to tissue patterning. Because these events depend on the fine structure of the GAG chains present, regulation of GAG biosynthesis is a key factor for understanding normal and disease related cellular growth
The key to exploiting an understanding of GAG structure-function relationships for human disease therapy is to winnow oligosaccharide-protein binding patterns from heterogeneous biological preparations. Toward this end, we have developed mass spectral methods for GAGs that enable comparison of structures as a function of biological variables.

The long term research aims are (1) to develop a fundamental understanding of the manner in which glycosaminoglycan expression is varied according to the cellular growth environment related to human disease and (2) to identify HS chain structures useful as therapeutic targets.

New bioinformatics methods are essential to realizing these goals. The data produced using our methods are information rich and not amenable to manual interpretation. Further, the methods needed are distinct from those used in genomics and proteomics. We are developing bioinformatics methods appropriate for interpretation of structural data on glycosaminoglycans and other carbohydrates to identify targets for disease therapy.

Other Positions

  • Member, Bioinformatics Graduate Program, Boston University
  • Member, BU-BMC Cancer Center, Boston University
  • Member, Genome Science Institute, Boston University
  • Center Faculty Member, Mass Spectrometry, Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine
  • Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students), Boston University Chobanian & Avedisian School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences


  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology, PhD
  • Bates College, BS


  • Published on 2/15/2024

    Nalehua MR, Zaia J. A critical evaluation of ultrasensitive single-cell proteomics strategies. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2024 Apr; 416(9):2359-2369. PMID: 38358530.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/25/2024

    Hackett WE, Chang D, Carvalho L, Zaia J. RAMZIS: a bioinformatic toolkit for rigorous assessment of the alterations to glycoprotein composition that occur during biological processes. Bioinform Adv. 2024; 4(1):vbae012. PMID: 38384861.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 1/11/2024

    Li R, Xia C, Wu S, Downs MJ, Tong H, Tursumamat N, Zaia J, Costello CE, Lin C, Wei J. Direct and Detailed Site-Specific Glycopeptide Characterization by Higher-Energy Electron-Activated Dissociation Tandem Mass Spectrometry. Anal Chem. 2024 Jan 23; 96(3):1251-1258. PMID: 38206681.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 12/21/2023

    Zaarur N, Meriin AB, Singh M, Goel RK, Zaia J, Kandror KV. Akt may associate with insulin-responsive vesicles via interaction with sortilin. FEBS Lett. 2024 Feb; 598(4):390-399. PMID: 38105115.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/27/2023

    Liu X, Halvorsen S, Blanke N, Downs M, Stein TD, Bigio IJ, Zaia J, Zhang Y. Progressive mechanical and structural changes in anterior cerebral arteries with Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimers Res Ther. 2023 Oct 27; 15(1):185. PMID: 37891618.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 10/3/2023

    Zaia J. Recent advances and future developments in ultrasensitive omics. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2023 Nov; 415(28):6887-6888. PMID: 37787855.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/20/2023

    Downs M, Curran J, Zaia J, Sethi MK. Analysis of complex proteoglycans using serial proteolysis and EThcD provides deep N- and O-glycoproteomic coverage. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2023 Nov; 415(28):6995-7009. PMID: 37728749.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 9/20/2023

    Dasgupta S, Zaia J. Antiracism in biomolecular research. Anal Bioanal Chem. 2023 Nov; 415(27):6611-6613. PMID: 37728748.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 8/29/2023

    Liu X, Halvorsen S, Blanke N, Downs M, Stein TD, Bigio IJ, Zaia J, Zhang Y. Progressive Mechanical and Structural Changes in Anterior Cerebral Arteries with Alzheimer's Disease. Res Sq. 2023 Aug 29. PMID: 37693508.

    Read at: PubMed
  • Published on 6/2/2023

    Wei J, Papanastasiou D, Kosmopoulou M, Smyrnakis A, Hong P, Tursumamat N, Klein JA, Xia C, Tang Y, Zaia J, Costello CE, Lin C. De novo glycan sequencing by electronic excitation dissociation MS2-guided MS3 analysis on an Omnitrap-Orbitrap hybrid instrument. Chem Sci. 2023 Jun 21; 14(24):6695-6704. PMID: 37350811.

    Read at: PubMed

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