Zhao-Jun Liu, M.D., Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Surgery
Description of Research
Dr. Liu's research interests span two areas. One of his research interests focuses on signaling pathways and molecular mechanisms involved in tumor initiation, progression, and metastasis. Current research is directed toward elucidation of the Notch signaling pathway and how dysregulation of this pathway leads to melanocytic transformation and melanoma progression. Moreover, Dr. Liu is interested in targeting tumor microenvironment; in particular, stromal fibroblasts and tumor vasculatures, through manipulating Notch signaling. The major goal of Dr. Liu's research is to determine if Notch pathway is a potential therapeutic target for cancer treatment. An additional research interest of Dr. Liu is to investigate the role of Notch signaling in angiogenesis and vascular diseases as well as the signals and mechanisms underlying endothelial progenitor cell (EPC) homing to target tissues.
- Demonstrated that the Notch1 pathway is activated in human melanoma
- Demonstrated that Notch signaling is oncogenic in melanoma development and progression
- Revealed that the oncogenic effects of Notch signaling on melanoma are mediated by activation of the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K)-Akt pathways
- Highlighted a beta-Catenin-dependent, stage-specific role for Notch1 signaling in promoting the progression of primary melanoma
- Identified VEGF as an angiogenic factor in controlling Notch and Notch ligand gene expression in endothelial cells
Selected Cancer-Related Publications
- Goldschmidt-Clermont PJ, Seo DM, Wang L, Beecham GW, Liu ZJ, Vazquez-Padron RI, Dong C, Hare JM, Kapiloff MS, Bishopric NH, Pericak-Vance M, Vance JM, Velazquez OC. Inflammation, stem cells and atherosclerosis genetics. Curr Opin Mol Ther 12:712-23, 2010. Read more »
- Pinnix CC, Lee JT, Liu ZJ, McDaid R, Balint K, Beverly LJ, Brafford PA, Xiao M, Himes B, Zabierowski SE, Yashiro-Ohtani Y, Nathanson KL, Bengston A, Pollock PM, Weeraratna AT, Nickoloff BJ, Pear WS, Capobianco AJ, Herlyn M. Active notch1 confers a transformed phenotype to primary human melanocytes. Cancer Res 69:5312-20, 2009. Read more »
- Liu ZJ, Zhuge Y, Velazquez OC. Trafficking and differentiation of mesenchymal stem cells. J Cell Biochem 106:984-91, 2009. Read more »
Collaborating in the Multidisciplinary Research Program(s):