The Brody School of Medicine
Department of Internal Medicine

Health Sciences Campus


Li Yang, PhD

Li Yang, PhD
Assistant Professor
Division of Hematology/ Oncology
600 Moye Blvd., Brody 3E-127
Greenville, NC 27834
Telephone: 252.744.3419
Fax: 252.744.3418

The major focus of research in our laboratory is to study how cells perceive and respond to tissue microenvironments in cancer and other diseases such as inflammation and ischemia. Tumor is an abnormal organ-like structure in which cancer cells closely interact with blood vessels, immune cells, and stromal cells in a unique tissue microenvironment. Due to defective blood flow and increased glycolysis of cancer cells (Warburg effect), tumor microenvironments are characterized by hypoxia and acidosis that are important for cancer progression and response to chemo- and radio-therapies. Moreover, acidic tissue microenvironments also frequently exist in inflammation, ischemia, and many other pathological conditions. However, the mechanisms by which cells respond to acidosis in the microenvironment are not well understood.

We focus on a family of pH-sensing G protein-coupled receptors (GPCRs) that are activated by acidic extracellular pH. Our goal is to understand how the acidic microenvironment regulates the behavior of cancer cells, blood vessels, immune cells, and stromal cells at the molecular level. Currently we are pursuing several research directions including: (1) How acidosis/GPCR signaling regulates tumor growth, metastasis, and response to chemo- and radio-theraphies, (2) How acidosis/ GPCR signaling regulates angiogenesis and the endothelium-immune cell interaction; (3) Through collaborations, we are using high-throughput chemical screening to identify potential small molecule modulators of the pH-sensing GPCRs. The studies have implications in cancer and other acidosis-related diseases such as inflammation, ischemia, and renal, respiratory and metabolic diseases.


<h2>Selected Publications</h2>

Sun X, Yang LV, Tiegs BC, Arend LJ, McGraw DW, Penn RB, Petrovic S. Deletion of pH Sensor GPR4 decreases renal acid excretion. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2010 Aug 26. [Epub ahead of print] PMID: 20798260

Jacobs KM, Yang LV, Ding J, Ekpenyong AE, Castellone R, Lu JQ, Hu XH. Diffraction imaging of spheres and melanoma cells with a microscope objective. J Biophotonics. 2009; 2(8-9):521-527. PMID: 19593764

Peter C, Waibel M, Radu CG, Yang LV, Witte ON, Schulze-Osthoff K, Wesselborg s, Lauber K. Migration to apoptotic "fine-me" signals is mediated via the phagocyte receptor G2A. J Biol Chem. 2008; 283(9):5296-5305. PMID: 18089568

Yang LV, Radu CG, Roy M, Lee S, McLaughlin J, Teitell MA, Iruela-Arispe ML, Witte ON. Vascular abnormalities in mice deficient for the G protein-couled receptor GPR4 that functions as a pH sensor. Mol Cell Biol. 2007;27(4):1334-1347. PMID: 17145776

Yang LV, Wan J, Ge Y, Fu Z, Kim SY, Fujiwara Y, Taub JW, Matherly LH, Eliason J, Li L. The GATA site-dependent hemogen promoter is transcriptionally regulated by GATA1 in hematopoietic and leukemia cells. Leukemia. 2006; 20(3):417-425. PMID: 16437149

Radu CG, Cheng D, Nijagal A, Riedinger M, McLaughlin J, Yang LV, Johnson J, Witte ON. Normal immune development and glucocorticoid-induced thymocyte apoptosis in mice deficient for the T-cell death-associated gene 8 receptor. Mol Cell Biol. 2006; 26(2):668-677. PMID: 16382156

Wang L, Radu CG, Yang LV, Bentolila LA, Riedinger M, Witte ON. Lysophosphatidylcholine-induced surface redistribution regulates signaling of the murine G protein-coupled receptor G2A. Mol Biol Cell. 2005; 16(5):2234-2247. PMID: 15728718

Yang LV, Radu CG, Wang L, Riedinger M, Witte ON. Gi-independent macrophage chemotaxis to lysophosphatidylcholine via the immunoregulatory GPCR G2A. Blood. 2005; 105(3): 1127-1134. PMID: 15383458

Radu CG, Yang LV, Riedinger M, Au M, Witte ON. T cell chemotaxis to lysophosphatidylcholine through the G2A receptor. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 2004; 101(1):245-250. PMID: 14681556

Yang LV, Heng HH, Wan  J, Southwood CM, Gow A, Li L. Alternative promoters and ployadenylation regulate tissue-specific expression of Hemogen isoforms during hematopoiesis and spermatogenesis. Dev Dyn. 2003; 228(4):606-616. PMID: 14648837

Uhler J, Garbern J, Yang L, Kamholz J, Mellerick DM. Nk6 a novel Drosophilia homeobox gene regulated by vnd. Mech Dev. 2002; 116(1-2): 105-116. PMID: 12128210

Yang LV, Nicholson RH, Kaplan J, Galy A, Li L. Hemogen is a novel nuclear factor specifically expressed in mouse hematopoietic development and its human homologue EDAG maps to chromosome 9q22, a region containing breakpoints of hematological neoplasms. Mech Dev. 2001; 104(1-2):105-111. PMID: 11404085

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