Department Affiliation: Primary: Pharmacology and Molecular Sciences; Secondary: Neuroscience
Degree: Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Telephone Number: 410-955-4619
Fax Number: 410-955-4520
E-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org
School of Medicine Address: Room 516 Hunterian Building, 725 N. Wolfe Street, Baltimore, MD 21205
Chemical biology and molecular and cellular biology, use of small molecules as probes to elucidate mechanisms of signal transduction, angiogenesis and cell proliferation.
We are interested in a molecular understanding of intracellular signal transduction pathways involved in T lymphocyte activation and apoptosis and regulation of endothelial cell proliferation that underlies angiogenesis. We take interdisciplinary approaches involving a combination of techniques from protein biochemistry, molecular and cell biology to synthetic organic chemistry.
- Mechanisms of intracellular signal transduction involved in T cell activation and apoptosis.
Of all cell types of the immune system, T cells are arguably the most critical one, as they play key roles in both the initiation and execution of an effective immune response. The life and death of T cells are controlled, in large part, by the activation states of the T cell receptor (TCR). The TCR-mediated signal transduction pathway has been a fertile ground for discovering and developing the most effective immunosuppressive agents used in organ transplantation and other autoimmune diseases. We have been engaged in the dissection of the intracellular TCR signaling pathway involved in both T cell activation and apoptosis. Using various immunosuppressive natural products, we are attempting to discover new players in the intracellular signaling pathway involved in T cell activation. Concurrently, we have also been studying how the signal generated by the second messenger calcium is transmitted from the cytosol to the nucleus to activate transcription of genes that trigger T cell activation or apoptosis. In this connection, we recently discovered a novel calcium signaling module composed of the transcription factor myocyte enhancer factor (MEF)-2, and its transcriptional corepressors Cabin1(cain)/HDAC4, 5, 7 and 9. The Cabin1/HDAC family of MEF2 transcriptional corepressors bind and inhibit MEF2 in a calcium-dependent manner. They are bound to MEF2 while it is associated with promoters of its target genes in the absence of calcium signaling. When there is an increase in intracellular calcium concentrations, Cabin1 and other MEF2 repressors are displaced from MEF2 by calmodulin, allowing for the association of MEF2 with histone acetylases such as p300 and activating transcription. We have shown that the MEF2-Cabin1/HDAC signaling module play essential roles in the regulation of transcription of both the Nur77 family of pro-apoptotic genes during thymocyte apoptosis and the IL-2 gene during T cell activation. We are continuing to identify other proteins involved in the regulation of Nur77 and IL-2 along with MEF2 and Cabin1. We are also engaged in a large-scale screening for small molecule modulators of MEF2 family of transcription factors to facilitate the investigation of their physiological functions in both cellular and animal models.
- Molecular mechanisms of inhibition of angiogenesis by small molecule inhibitors.
Angiogenesis, formation of new blood vessels, is necessary for tumor growth and metastasis as well as several other human diseases. Inhibition of angiogenesis is emerging as a promising strategy for treating cancer. Fumagillin and ovalicin are structurally-related natural products that were serendipitously discovered as highly selective inhibitors of angiogenesis over a decade ago. The inhibition of angiogenesis by fumagillin and ovalicin has been attributed to the inhibition of cell cycle progression of endothelial cells, the central component of all blood vessels. We and others have identified a molecular target for fumagillin as the type 2 methionine aminopeptidase (MetAP2), revealing a key role of MetAP2 in endothelial cell proliferation. Recently, we found that TNP-470 inhibits cell cycle progression of endothelial cells by activating p53 that in turn induces p21, leading to the inhibition of CyclinE-Cdk2 activity, which is likely to account for cell cycle blockade by fumagillin. We are currently investigating how inhibition of MetAP2 leads to activation of p53 by identifying its substrates in endothelial cells. We are also performing high-throughput screens for novel, reversible inhibitors of MetAP2 as candidates for anti-angiogenic drugs and tools to study MetAP2 function in vivo.
- Development of genetic systems for detecting small ligand-protein interactions.
Small ligand-receptor interactions underlie many fundamental biological processes and form the basis for pharmacological treatment of human diseases, as the majority of drugs in use today are derived from small organic compounds (as opposed to proteins). As chemical diversity rapidly grows as a result of recent advances in both natural product chemistry and combinatorial synthetic chemistry, there is an increasing demand for general, simple and sensitive methods to detect interactions between small ligands and proteins. To exploit the power of yeast genetics, we have developed a general method to detect ligand-protein receptor interactions in yeast by combining a hybrid ligand with the yeast two-hybrid system, named yeast three-hybrid system. By creating heterodimers of two small organic ligands and exposing them to fusion proteins between the receptors for the individual ligands to a DNA binding domain and a transcription activation domain, respectively, we showed that hybrid ligands can activate reporter genes in yeast, leading to growth in selective medium or color change due to reporter gene activation. We are developing mammalian versions of the three-hybrid system to further improve on the sensitivity of the system. These three-hybrid systems offer many exciting opportunities for future research including identification of new protein targets for “orphan” organic ligands, and selection of proteins possessing novel binding and catalytic properties.
- Youn, H.-D., Sun, L., Prywes, R. and Liu, J.O. Apoptosis of T cells mediated by Ca2+-induced release of the transcription factor MEF2. Science, 286:790-793, 1999. Pub Med Reference
- Griffith, E.C., Licitra, E. J. and Liu, J.O. A yeast three-hybrid system for detecting ligand-receptor interactions. Meth. Enzymol., 328:89-103, 2000. Pub Med Reference
- Zhang, Y., Griffith, E. C., Sage, J., Jacks, T., and Liu, J.O. Cell cycle inhibition by the anti-angiogenic agent TNP-470 is mediated by p53 and p21WAF1/CIP1. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 97:6427-6432, 2000. Pub Med Reference
Huai, Q., Kim, HY., Liu, Y., Zhao, Y., Chen, Y., Xia, Y., Mondragon, A., Liu, J.O. and Ke, H. Three-dimensional structure of the cyclophilin-cyclosporin A-calcineurin complex. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA., 99: 12037-12042, 2002. Pub Med Reference
Han, A., Pan, F., Stroud, J. C., Youn, H. –D., Liu, J.O. and Chen, L. Structural basis of sequence-specific recruitment of transcription corepressor Cabin1 by Myocyte Enhancer Factor-2. Nature, 422:730-734, 2003. Pub Med Reference
- Tang, P., Mamdani, F., Hu, X, Liu, J.O. and Yu, B. Synthesis of OSW saponins analogs with modified sugar residues and their antiproliferative activities. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 17:1003-1007, 2007. Pub Med Reference
- Pan, F., Sun, L., Dardian, D. B., Whartenby, K. A., Pardoll, D. M., and Liu, J.O. Feedback inhibition of calcineurin and Ras by a dual inhibitory protein Carabin. Nature 445:433-436, 2007. Pub Med Reference
- Chong, C. R., Xu, J., Lu, J., Bhat, S., Sullivan, D. J. Jr. and Liu, J.O. (2007) Inhibition of angiogenesis by the antifungal drug itraconazole. ACS Chem. Biol. 2:263-270, 2007. Pub Med Reference
- McMahon, M. A., Jilek, B. L., Brennan, T. P., Shen, L., Zhou, Y., Wind-Rotolo, M., Xing, S., Bhat, S., Hale, B., Hegarty, R., Chong, C. R., Liu, J.O., Siliciano, R. F., and Thio, C. L. The HBV drug entecavir--effects on HIV-1 replication and resistance. New Engl. J. Med. 356:2614-2621, 2007. Pub Med Reference
- Low, W.-K., Dang, Y., Bhat., S., Romo, D., and Liu, J.O. Substrate-Dependent Targeting of Eukaryotic Translation Initiation Factor 4A by Pateamine A: Negation of Domain-Linker Regulation of Activity. Chem. & Biol. 14:715-727, 2007. Pub Med Reference
- Hu, X., Dang, Y., Tenney, K., Crews, P., Tsai, C.W., Sixt, K. M., Cole, P. A., and Liu, J.O. Regulation of c-Src Nonreceptor Tyrosine Kinase Activity by Bengamide A through Inhibition of Methionine Aminopeptidases. Chem. & Biol. 14:764-774, 2007. Pub Med Reference
- Peng, W., Tang, P., Hu, X., Liu, J.O., and Yu, B. Synthesis of the A, B-ring-truncated OSW saponin analogs and their antitumor activities. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 17:5506-5509, 2007. Pub Med Reference
- Peddibhotla, S., Dang, Y., Liu, J.O., and Romo, D. Simultaneous Arming and Structure/Activity Studies of Natural Products Employing O-H Insertions: An Expedient and Versatile Strategy for Natural Products-Based Chemical Genetics. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 129:12222-12231, 2007. Pub Med Reference
- Low, W. K., Dang, Y., Schneider-Poetsch, T., Shi, Z., Choi, N. S., Rzasa, R. M., Shea, H. A., Li, S., Park, K., Ma, G., Romo, D., Liu, J.O. Isolation and Identification of Eukaryotic Initiation Factor 4A as a Molecular Target for the Marine Natural Product Pateamine A. Methods Enzymol. 431:303-324, 2007. Pub Med Reference
- Byrne, S. T., Gu, P., Zhou, J., Denkin, S. M., Chong, C., Sullivan, D., Liu, J.O., and Zhang, Y. Pyrrolidine dithiocarbamate (PDTC) and diethyldithiocarbamate (DETC) are active against growing and non-growing persister Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Antimicrob. Agents Chemother. 51:4495-4497, 2007. Pub Med Reference
- Hu, X. V., Chen, X., Han, K. C., Mildvan, A. S., Liu, J.O. Kinetic and Mutational Studies of the Number of Interacting Divalent Cations Required by Bacterial and Human Methionine Aminopeptidases. Biochemistry 46:12833-12843, 2007. Pub Med Reference
- Liu, Y. V., Hubbi, M. E., Pan, F., McDonald, K. R., Mansharamani, M., Cole, R. N., Liu, J.O., and Semenza, G. L. Calcineurin promotes HIF-1alpha expression by dephosphorylating RACK1 and blocking RACK1 dimerization. J. Biol. Chem. 282:37064-37073, 2007. Pub Med Reference
- Galbán, S., Kuwano, Y., Pullmann, R. Jr., Martindale, J. L., Kim, H.H., Lal, A., Abdelmohsen, K., Yang, X., Dang, Y., Liu, J.O., Lewis, S.M., Holcik, M., Gorospe, M. RNA-Binding Proteins HuR and PTB Promote the Translation of Hypoxia-Inducible Factor-1alpha. Mol. Cell Biol. 28: 93-107, 2008. Pub Med Reference
- Pei, Y., Zhu, P., Dang, Y., Wu, J., Yang, X., Wan, B., Liu, J.O., Yi, Q., Yu, L. Nuclear export of NF90 to stabilize IL-2 mRNA is mediated by AKT-dependent phosphorylation at Ser647 in response to CD28 costimulation. J. Immunol. 180:222-229. 2008. Pub Med Reference
- Wang, Y., Zhang, F., Zhang, Y., Liu, J.O., Ma, D. Synthesis and antitumor activity of cyclodepsipeptide zygosporamide and its analogues. Bioorg. Med. Chem. Lett. 18:4385-4387, 2008. Pub Med Reference
- McMahon, M.A., Siliciano, J.D., Lai. J., Liu, J.O., Stivers, J.T., Siliciano, R.F., Kohli, R.M. The Antiherpetic Drug Acyclovir Inhibits HIV Replication and Selects the V75I Reverse Transcriptase Multidrug Resistance Mutation. J. Biol. Chem. 283:31289-31293, 2008. Pub Med Reference
- Zhang, H., Qian, D.Z., Tan, Y.S., Lee, K., Gao, P., Ren, Y.R., Rey, S., Hammers, H., Chang, D., Pili, R., Dang, C.V., Liu, J.O., Semenza, G.L. Inaugural Article: Digoxin and other cardiac glycosides inhibit HIF-1a synthesis and block tumor growth. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105:19579-19586, 2008. Pub Med Reference
- Ren, Y.R., Pan, F., Parvez, S., Fleig, A., Chong, C.R., Xu, J., Dang, Y., Zhang, J., Jiang, H., Penner, R., Liu, J.O. Clofazimine inhibits human Kv1.3 potassium channel and perturbs calcium oscillation frequency in T lymphocytes. PLoS ONE 3:e4009, 2008. Pub Med Reference
- Lee, K., Qian, D.Z., Rey, S., Wei, H., Liu, J.O., Semenza, G.L. Anthracycline chemotherapy inhibits HIF-1 transcriptional activity and tumor-induced mobilization of circulating angiogenic cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 106:2353-2358, 2009. Pub Med Reference
- Chen, X., Xie, S., Bhat, S., Kumar, N., Shapiro, T.A., Liu, J.O. Fumagillin and fumarranol interact with P. falciparum methionine aminopeptidase 2 and inhibit malaria parasite growth in vitro and in vivo. Chem. Biol. 16:193-202, 2009. Pub Med Reference
- Liu, J.O. Calmodulin-dependent phosphatase, kinases, and transcriptional corepressors involved in T-cell activation. Immunol. Rev. 228:184-198, 2009. Pub Med Reference
- Rosenthal, A.S., Chen, X., Liu, J.O., West, D.C., Hergenrother, P.J., Shapiro, T.A., Posner, G.H. Malaria-Infected Mice Are Cured by a Single Oral Dose of New Dimeric Trioxane Sulfones Which Are Also Selectively and Powerfully Cytotoxic to Cancer Cells. J. Med. Chem. 52:1198-1203, 2009. Pub Med Reference
- Liu, J.O., Nacev, B.A., Xu, J., Bhat, S. It takes two binding sites for calcineurin and NFAT to tango. Mol. Cell 33: 676-678, 2009. Pub Med Reference
- Zhang, Y., Byun, Y., Ren, Y. R., Liu, J. O., Laterra, J., Pomper, M. G. Identification of inhibitors of ABCG2 by a bioluminescence imaging-based high-throughput assay. Cancer Res. 69:5867-5875, 2009. Pub Med Reference
- Dang, Y., Low, W.K., Xu, J., Gehring. N. H., Dietz, H.C., Romo, D., Liu, J.O. Inhibition of nonsense-mediated mRNA decay by the natural product pateamine A through eukaryotic initiation factor 4AIII. J. Biol. Chem. 284: 23613-23621, 2009. Pub Med Reference
- Woodard, L.E., Chang, W., Chen, X., Liu, J.O., Shapiro, T.A., Posner, G.H. Malaria-Infected Mice Live until at Least Day 30 after a New Monomeric Trioxane Combined with Mefloquine Are Administered Together in a Single Low Oral Dose. J. Med. Chem. July 8, 2009 [Epub ahead of print]. Pub Med Reference
- Pan, F., Yu, H., Dang, E.V., Barbi, J., Pan, X., Grosso, J.F., Jinasena, D., Sharma, S.M., McCadden, E.M., Getnet, D., Drake, C.G., Liu, J.O., Ostrowski, M.C., Pardoll, D.M. Eos mediates Foxp3-dependent gene silencing in CD4+ regulatory T cells. Science 325:1142-1146, 2009. Pub Med Reference
- Li, W., Dang, Y., Liu, J.O., Yu, B. Expeditious Synthesis of Hippuristanol and Congeners with Potent Antiproliferative Activities. Chemistry, Eur. J. 15:10356-10359, 2009. Pub Med Reference
- Lee, K., Zhang, H., Qian, D.Z., Rey, S., Liu, J.O., Semenza, G.L. Acriflavine inhibits HIF-1 dimerization, tumor growth, and vascularization. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, Oct. 1, 2009 [Epub ahead of print]. Pub Med Reference
Other graduate programs in which Dr. Liu participates: