Skip Navigation

Find a Doctor

Find a Researcher


Xiaobo Mao, Ph.D.

Photo of Dr. Xiaobo Mao, Ph.D.
  • Assistant Professor of Neurology


I received my scientific training in the field of neurodegeneration and protein science. My research focuses on the molecular mechanisms of prion-like proteins cell-to-cell transmission, particularly α-synuclein (α-syn) in Parkinson's disease (PD) and tau in Alzheimer's disease (AD), as well as the roles of strains. We creatively applied scanning tunneling microscopy to identify the core β-sheet hairpin structures and amino acid sequence of prion-like peptides (PNAS 2011; JACS 2013). Recently, we discovered LAG3 as the receptor of pathological α-syn transmission (Science 2016). This work was selected as one of the 40 key discoveries in 200 years of PD research. I received four awards from NIH, Johns Hopkins, MJFF and APDA from related work. Furthermore, internalized pathological α-syn caused PARP-1 activation and PAR accumulation, which converted α-syn into a more toxic strain and accelerated neurotoxicity. Depletion/inhibition of LAG3 or PARP-1 can substantially inhibit α-syn-induced neurodegeneration (Science 2018). more


  • Assistant Professor of Neurology

Departments / Divisions



  • Ph.D., National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (China) (2010)

Research & Publications

Research Summary

My laboratory employs advanced technologies, including (i) high-throughput screening platforms of receptors of prion-like proteins and related inhibitors, (ii) cellular and animal models of prion-like protein transmission, (iii) scanning tunneling microscopy, and (iv) protein misfolding cyclic amplification for strains. 

Technology Expertise Keywords

Cell and Protein Biology, Biophysics

Selected Publications

Mao X, Ou MT, Karuppagounder SS, Kam TI, Yin X, Xiong Y, Ge P, Umanah GE, Brahmachari S, Shin JH, Kang HC, Zhang J, Xu J, Chen R, Park H, Andrabi SA, Kang SU, Goncalves RA, Liang Y, Zhang S, Qi C, Lam S, Keiler JA, Tyson J, Kim D, Panicker N, Yun SP, Workman CJ, Vignali DA, Dawson VL, Ko HS, Dawson TM. Pathological α-synuclein transmission initiated by binding lymphocyte-activation gene 3. Science. 2016 Sep 30;353(6307).

Kam TI#, Mao X#, Park H# (# equal contribution), Chou SC, Karuppagounder SS, Umanah GE, Yun SP, Brahmachari S, Panicker N, Chen R, Andrabi SA, Qi C, Poirier GG, Pletnikova O, Troncoso JC, Bekris LM, Leverenz JB, Pantelyat A, Ko HS, Rosenthal LS, Dawson TM and Dawson VL. Poly (ADP-ribose) Drives Pathologic α-Synuclein Neurodegeneration in Parkinson’s Disease. Science. 2018;362(6414). doi: 10.1126/science.aat8407.

Mao X, Guo Y, Luo Y, Niu L, Liu L, Ma X, Wang H, Yang Y, Wei G, Wang C. Sequence effects on peptide assembly characteristics observed by using scanning tunneling microscopy. J Am Chem Soc. 2013 Feb 13;135(6):2181-7.

Mao XB, Wang CX, Wu XK, Ma XJ, Liu L, Zhang L, Niu L, Guo YY, Li DH, Yang YL, Wang C. Beta structure motifs of islet amyloid polypeptides identified through surface-mediated assemblies. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Dec 6;108(49):19605-10.

Zhang M#, Mao X# (# equal contribution), Wang C, Zeng W, Zhang C, Li Z, Fang Y, Yang Y, Liang W, Wang C. The effect of graphene oxide on conformation change, aggregation and cytotoxicity of HIV-1 regulatory protein (Vpr). Biomaterials. 2013 Jan; 34(4):1383-90.


A detection method for the relative adsorption constant of dye, antibody, drug and pro-drug molecules on peptides.
Patent # WO2011060598A1 & CN102062718

Therapeutic Uses of LAG3 the a-Synuclein Transmission Receptor, Ted M. Dawson, Valina L. Dawson, Han Seok Ko, Xiaobo Mao, Dario Angelo Alberto Vignali, Creg J. Workman.
Patent # WO2018039147A1, PCT/US2017/047878

Contact for Research Inquiries

Xiaobo Mao
733 N. Broadway, MRB 715
Baltimore, MD 21205 map

Email me

Activities & Honors


  • Outstanding Student Award, National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (China), 2007 - 2009
  • Director's Scholarship, National Center for Nanoscience and Technology (China), 2007 - 2009
  • NIA/ADRC Johns Hopkins Pilot Project Awards, NIA/ADRC, 2016 - 2017
  • 18th Annual NINDS Udall Centers Meeting, the Best Poster Awards, NINDS Udall Centers Meeting, 2016
  • the Paul Ehrlich Research Awards, the Johns Hopkins University Young Investigator's Day, 2017
  • New Investigator Awards in Alzheimer's Disease, AFAR, the Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Foundation
  • APDA Research Grant, APDA
  • CurePSP Grant Award, CurePSP Foundation


  • American Chemical Society
  • Society for Neuroscience
  • International Society for Neurochemistry
  • The Gerontological Society

Professional Activities

  • Guest Associate Co-Editor, Frontier in Neurology
  • Guest Associate Co-Editor, Frontier in Cellular Neuroscience
  • Guest Associate Co-Editor, Frontier in Aging Neuroscience

Videos & Media

Lectures and Presentations

  • a-Synuclein transmission mechanism.
    National (01/01/1900)
    GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), Eli Lilly and the Company, JHUSOM
  • Molecular Mechanism of Pathological a-Synuclein Cell-to-cell Transmission and Induced Neurotoxicity
    National (01/01/1900)
    Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL), Peking Union Medical College
  • Mechanism of Pathological a-Synuclein Transmission
    International, Keystone Symposium (01/01/1900)
Is this you? Edit Profile
back to top button