Hongjun Liu     Associate Professor, PI
InstituteSchool of Life Science and Technology
Research AreaStem Cell and Regenerative Medicine,Retinal Regeneration
Contact Info.liuhj@@shanghaitech.edu.cn

Dr. Hongjun Liu obtained his B.S. degree from Ocean University of Qingdao in 1991, and Ph.D. degree from the UC San Diego – San Diego State University Joint Doctoral Program in 2003. He completed his postdoctoral training in UC San Diego and the National Institutes of Health from 2003 to 2010. Dr. Liu joined the University of Pittsburgh as an Assistant Professor in 2010, and the School of Life Science and Technology at the ShanghaiTech University as an Associate Professor, PI in October, 2015.

Research Interests
Vision impairment and blindness negatively impact the lives of millions of people and also impose a huge economic burden to the society. Currently, 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide, with 39 million of them blind. Among many contributing factors, loss of retinal neurons, especially photoreceptors and retinal ganglion cells, is the leading cause of blindness. Vision restoration by regenerating retinal neurons either through activating endogenous regenerative source or cell transplantation has been viewed as an attractive therapeutic approach. Until very recently, however, it was thought that the retina in adult mammals lacks regenerative capacity. Using in vivo lineage tracing approach, we now demonstrate that Lgr5+ amacrine cells, a fully differentiated retinal interneuron, still have the potential to generate other retinal cells in the retina of adult mice. We are investigating the molecular mechanisms by which Lgr5+ amacrine cells transdifferentiate or dedifferentiate into other retinal lineages. This information will provide us important insights into developing vision restoration therapeutics in the future. In addition, we are also exploring the possibility of eliciting retinal repair through cell transplantation. We are developing methods to efficiently drive ES cells or iPS cells into specific retinal lineages. By activating endogenous regenerative source or by transplanting cells from outside of the retina, we hope we will be able to repair damaged retinas and restore lost vision to those who suffer from blindness in the future.

Selected Publications

Chen M, Tian S, Glasgow N, Gibson G, Yang X, Shiber C, Nasonkin I, Funderburgh J, Watkins S, Johnson J, Schuman J, Liu H. 2015. Lgr5+ amacrine cells possess regenerative potential in the retina of adult mice. Aging Cell. 14(4)635-643. doi: 10.1111/acel.12346.

Chen M, Tian S, Yang X, Lane AP, Reed RR, Liu H. 2014. Wnt-responsive Lgr5+ globose basal cells function as multipotent olfactory epithelium progenitor cells. The Journal of Neuroscience. 34 (24): 8268-8276.

Liu H, Fergusson MM, Wu J, Rovira II, Liu J, Gavrilova O,  Lu T, Bao J, Han D, Sack MN, Finkel T. 2011. Wnt signaling regulates hepatic metabolism. Science Signaling, 4(158): ra6.

Liu J, Cao L, Chen J, Song S, Lee I, Quijano C, Liu H, Keyvanfar K, Chen H, Cao L, Ahn B, Kumar N, Rovira I, Daniels M, Xu X, van Lohuizen M, Motoyama N, Deng C,  Finkel T. 2009. Bmi1 regulates mitochondrial function and the DNA damage response pathway. Nature. 459: 387-392.

Liu H, Fergusson MM, Castilho RM, Liu J, Cao L, Chen J, Malide D, Rovira II, Schimel D, Kuo CJ, Gutkind JS, Hwang PM, Finkel T. 2007. Augmented Wnt signaling in a mammalian model of accelerated aging. Science. 317: 803 – 806. 

Hao Y, Miller MS, Swank DM, Liu H, Bernstein SI, Maughan DW, Pollack GH. 2006. Passive stiffness of Drosophila indirect flight muscle is affected by disrupting paramyosin phosphorylation but not by substitution of embryonic myosin S-2 hinge. Biophysical Journal. 91: 4500-4506.

Maeda S, Hsu LC*, Liu H*, Bankston LA, Iimura M, Kagnoff MF, Eckmann L, Karin M. 2005. Nod2 mutation in Crohn’s disease potentiates NF-kappaB activity and Il-1 beta procession. Science. 307: 734 – 738. (*co-second author)

Liu H, Colavitti R, Rovira II, Finkel T. 2005. Redox-dependent transcriptional regulation. Circulation Research. 97: 967 – 974.

Liu H, Miller MS, Swank DM, Kronert WA, Maughan DW, Bernstein SI. 2005. Paramyosin phosphorylation site disruption affects indirect flight muscle stiffness and power generation in Drosophila melanogaster. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 102: 10522 – 10527.