Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences
The University Texas
He came to the United States in August of 1995 as a Research Associate of Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. He worked in Dr. Bruce Beutler’s lab to clone an elusive mouse gene that mediates the response to the lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge. After repeated failures with various approaches, they finally cloned the gene (now known as Toll-like receptor 4, TLR4) by positional cloning and massive sequencing in 1998. A single point mutation in this gene confers C3H/Hej mice resistance to the LPS toxicities. This discovery was published in Science and has been cited over 4400 times so far. After leaving HHMI, He spent three years working at Children’s Memorial Institute for Education and Research, Chicago, IL and ACGT, Inc., Northbrook, IL. In September of 2001, he joined his current university, The University of Illinois at Chicago. Based on a novel observation he made shortly after my arrival in Dr. William T. Beck’s lab, whose research interest was in the multidrug resistance of cancer for a long time, he started a new project to study alternative splicing and slicing factors in human ovarian and breast cancer.They found that splicing factors polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) and SRp20 play critical roles in maintaining tumor cell growth and malignant properties.
My lab is interested in issues related to tumor development and tumor detection. Currently, we focus on the role of splicing factors and alternative splicing in ovarian and breast cancer. One project is to study how splicing factors polypyrimidine tract-binding protein (PTB) and SRp20 affect tumorigenic process. We attempt to address the issue at two levels: First, we investigate what cellular or subcellular processes are regulated by these two splicing factors; second, we examine what molecular events and signaling pathways are influenced by PTB and SRp20. Another project is to systematically investigate the functional significance of the splice variants of the genes that play a role in tumor development. The questions we attempt to answer are: 1) Are there any differences in splicing pattern of these genes between tumor cells and corresponding normal cells; 2) What different molecular functions do the splice variants have; and 3) What phenotypes do the splice variants confer. The third project is to explore the potential of PTB, SRp20 and their targets as biomarkers for cancer diagnosis, prognosis and response to therapy. We develop methods to detect these molecules in blood and/or tissues and correlate their levels with clinical data. Our ultimate goal is to identify sensitive and specific biomarkers to help management of ovarian cancer.
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