Belinda Chang

faculty_img Academic Title: Professor

Campus: St. George

CSB Appointment: Full

Primary Undergraduate Department:
Cell & Systems Biology

Graduate Programs:
Cell & Systems Biology
Ecology & Evolutionary Biology
Genome Biology & Bioinformatics
Neuroscience

Titles and Honors

Academic or Administrative Appointments

Education:
Ph.D. Harvard 1995

 

Mailing Address
Department of Cell & Systems Biology
University of Toronto
25 Harbord St.
Toronto, ON M5S 3G5
Canada

 

Contact Information
Office phone: 416-978-3507
Office: RW 502A
Lab: RW 501 / 502
Lab phone: 416-946-0363
Email: belinda.chang@utoronto.ca
URL: http://labs.eeb.utoronto.ca/chang

 

Research Areas
Animal Biology
Bioinformatics & Computational Biology
Comparative Genomics
Evolutionary Biology
Molecular Biology
Neurobiology

 

Research

Vision in animals is triggered via absorption of a photon by a visual pigment located in the photoreceptors of the eye, resulting in a signal to the brain that light has been perceived. Changes in the functional properties of visual pigments can therefore have profound consequences on the visual capabilities of an organism. The visual system has a surprisingly large dynamic range, and is highly specialized for the efficient sensing of light even under very low light levels. How is this achieved at the molecular level? We are also interested in mechanisms of spectral tuning, and the evolution of color vision. We study these and other questions by reconstructing the evolutionary history of visual pigments, so that important changes in their function can be examined experimentally. This involves using computational tools to infer ancestral pigment sequences, followed by synthesis and expression of the ancestral genes in the laboratory so that their biochemical properties can be assayed directly. We compare reconstructed ancestors with present day visual pigments, particularly those from animals that live in unusual visual environments. Our research uses a variety of interdiscplinary approaches to better understand the evolution of visual pigment structure and function, including next generation sequencing, computational sequence analysis, site-directed mutagenesis and protein expression.

 

Publications

2014

Top
Spectral tuning in vertebrate short wavelength-sensitive 1 (SWS1) visual pigments: Can wavelength sensitivity be inferred from sequence data?.Hauser FE, van Hazel I, Chang BS.J. Exp. Zool. B Mol. Dev. Evol. 2014 Jun;
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Selection on synonymous codons in mammalian rhodopsins: a possible role in optimizing translational processes.Du J, Dungan SZ, Sabouhanian A, Chang BS.BMC Evol. Biol. 2014;14:96
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Molecular evolution of GPCRs: CRH/CRH receptors.Lovejoy DA, Chang BS, Lovejoy NR, del Castillo J.J. Mol. Endocrinol. 2014 Jun;52(3):T43-60
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Ancient insights into uric acid metabolism in primates.Chang BS.Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2014 Mar;111(10):3657-8
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Divergent positive selection in rhodopsin from lake and riverine cichlid fishes.Schott RK, Refvik SP, Hauser FE, López-Fernández H, Chang BS.Mol. Biol. Evol. 2014 May;31(5):1149-65
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Encoding asymmetry of the N-glycosylation motif facilitates glycoprotein evolution.Williams R, Ma X, Schott RK, Mohammad N, Ho CY, Li CF, Chang BS, Demetriou M, Dennis JW.PLoS ONE 2014;9(1):e86088
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2013

Top
Functional characterization of spectral tuning mechanisms in the great bowerbird short-wavelength sensitive visual pigment (SWS1), and the origins of UV/violet vision in passerines and parrots.van Hazel I, Sabouhanian A, Day L, Endler JA, Chang BS.BMC Evol. Biol. 2013;13:250
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The Burmese python genome reveals the molecular basis for extreme adaptation in snakes.Castoe TA, de Koning AP, Hall KT, Card DC, Schield DR, Fujita MK, Ruggiero RP, Degner JF, Daza JM, Gu W, Reyes-Velasco J, Shaney KJ, Castoe JM, Fox SE, Poole AW, Polanco D, Dobry J, Vandewege MW, Li Q, Schott RK, Kapusta A, Minx P, Feschotte C, Uetz P, Ray DA, Hoffmann FG, Bogden R, Smith EN, Chang BS, Vonk FJ, Casewell NR, Henkel CV, Richardson MK, Mackessy SP, Bronikowski AM, Bronikowsi AM, Yandell M, Warren WC, Secor SM, Pollock DD.Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2013 Dec;110(51):20645-50
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Molecular evolutionary analysis of vertebrate transducins: a role for amino acid variation in photoreceptor deactivation.Lin YG, Weadick CJ, Santini F, Chang BS.J. Mol. Evol. 2013 Dec;77(5-6):231-45
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2012

Top
Complex patterns of divergence among green-sensitive (RH2a) African cichlid opsins revealed by Clade model analyses.Weadick CJ, Chang BS.BMC Evol. Biol. 2012;12:206
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Functional characterization of the rod visual pigment of the echidna (Tachyglossus aculeatus), a basal mammal.Bickelmann C, Morrow JM, Müller J, Chang BS.Vis. Neurosci. 2012 Sep;29(4-5):211-7
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Visual pigment molecular evolution in the Trinidadian pike cichlid (Crenicichla frenata): a less colorful world for neotropical cichlids?.Weadick CJ, Loew ER, Rodd FH, Chang BS.Mol. Biol. Evol. 2012 Oct;29(10):3045-60
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An improved likelihood ratio test for detecting site-specific functional divergence among clades of protein-coding genes.Weadick CJ, Chang BS.Mol. Biol. Evol. 2012 May;29(5):1297-300
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2011

Top
Molecular evolution of ultraspiracle protein (USP/RXR) in insects.Hult EF, Tobe SS, Chang BS.PLoS ONE 2011;6(8):e23416
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A novel rhodopsin-like gene expressed in zebrafish retina.Morrow JM, Lazic S, Chang BS.Vis. Neurosci. 2011 Jul;28(4):325-35
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Influence of codon usage bias on FGLamide-allatostatin mRNA secondary structure.Martínez-Pérez F, Bendena WG, Chang BS, Tobe SS.Peptides 2011 Mar;32(3):509-17
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2010

Top
Duplicate dmbx1 genes regulate progenitor cell cycle and differentiation during zebrafish midbrain and retinal development.Wong L, Weadick CJ, Kuo C, Chang BS, Tropepe V.BMC Dev. Biol. 2010;10:100
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The p1D4-hrGFP II expression vector: a tool for expressing and purifying visual pigments and other G protein-coupled receptors.Morrow JM, Chang BS.Plasmid 2010 Nov;64(3):162-9
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2009

Top
FGLamide Allatostatin genes in Arthropoda: introns early or late?.Martínez-Pérez F, Bendena WG, Chang BS, Tobe SS.Peptides 2009 Jul;30(7):1241-8
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Molecular evolution of the betagamma lens crystallin superfamily: evidence for a retained ancestral function in gamma N crystallins?.Weadick CJ, Chang BS.Mol. Biol. Evol. 2009 May;26(5):1127-42
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2008

Top
Reconstruction of ancestral FGLamide-type insect allatostatins: a novel approach to the study of allatostatin function and evolution.Hult EF, Weadick CJ, Chang BS, Tobe SS.J. Insect Physiol. 2008 Jun;54(6):959-68
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Endocrine and reproductive differences and genetic divergence in two populations of the cockroach Diploptera punctata.Lenkic LE, Wolfe JM, Chang BS, Tobe SS.J. Insect Physiol. 2008 Jun;54(6):931-8
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2007

Top
Long-wavelength sensitive visual pigments of the guppy (Poecilia reticulata): six opsins expressed in a single individual.Weadick CJ, Chang BS.BMC Evol. Biol. 2007;7 Suppl 1:S11
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2006

Top
Short-wavelength sensitive opsin (SWS1) as a new marker for vertebrate phylogenetics.van Hazel I, Santini F, Müller J, Chang BS.BMC Evol. Biol. 2006;6:97
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Ancestral reconstruction of the ligand-binding pocket of Family C G protein-coupled receptors.Kuang D, Yao Y, Maclean D, Wang M, Hampson DR, Chang BS.Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2006 Sep;103(38):14050-5
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2005

Top
Applications of ancestral protein reconstruction in understanding protein function: GFP-like proteins.Chang BS, Ugalde JA, Matz MV.Meth. Enzymol. 2005;395:652-70
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2004

Top
Evolution of coral pigments recreated.Ugalde JA, Chang BS, Matz MV.Science 2004 Sep;305(5689):1433
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Resonance Raman analysis of the mechanism of energy storage and chromophore distortion in the primary visual photoproduct.Yan EC, Ganim Z, Kazmi MA, Chang BS, Sakmar TP, Mathies RA.Biochemistry 2004 Aug;43(34):10867-76
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2003

Top
Ancestral gene reconstruction and synthesis of ancient rhodopsins in the laboratory.Chang BS.Integr. Comp. Biol. 2003 Aug;43(4):500-7
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Retinal counterion switch in the photoactivation of the G protein-coupled receptor rhodopsin.Yan EC, Kazmi MA, Ganim Z, Hou JM, Pan D, Chang BS, Sakmar TP, Mathies RA.Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2003 Aug;100(16):9262-7
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2002

Top
Recreating a functional ancestral archosaur visual pigment.Chang BS, Jönsson K, Kazmi MA, Donoghue MJ, Sakmar TP.Mol. Biol. Evol. 2002 Sep;19(9):1483-9
pubmed
Function of extracellular loop 2 in rhodopsin: glutamic acid 181 modulates stability and absorption wavelength of metarhodopsin II.Yan EC, Kazmi MA, De S, Chang BS, Seibert C, Marin EP, Mathies RA, Sakmar TP.Biochemistry 2002 Mar;41(11):3620-7
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Synthetic gene technology: applications to ancestral gene reconstruction and structure-function studies of receptors.Chang BS, Kazmi MA, Sakmar TP.Meth. Enzymol. 2002;343:274-94
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