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Zhi-Ren Liu


Ph.D. Biochemistry
Florida State University 1994


Cellular, Molecular Biology and Physiology Research Group
Molecular Biology and Cancer Biology


Molecular Biology & Cancer Biology

The goal of our research is to understand the molecular mechanism of cell abnormality, especially the conditions that are associated with many human diseases. We hope that our understanding will ultimately be converted to the development of new diagnostic and therapeutic strategies. Currently, we are focus on following two separate research projects:

Function of p68 RNA helicase in cell developmental program and tumor progression
We discovered that p68 helicase is phosphorylated at multiple amino acids residues. Tyrosine phosphorylation is directly associated with cell abnormal proliferation and cancer development. Interestingly, the tyrosine phosphorylated p68 mediates growth factors induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition by promoting b -catenin nuclear translocation. This research project aims to understand the role(s) of phosphorylated p68 in cell developmental program and cancer progression. We are also interested in developing a diagnosis using the dysregulated p68 as a marker and exploring the potentials of using the phosphorylated p68 as a treatment target.

Novel MRI contrast agents
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is a powerful, non-invasive clinical diagnostic tool with high spatial resolution without the limitation of the depth of tissues. However the application of MRI technique is limited by its lack of sensitivity and specificity. The method relies on the administration of contrast agents to amplify the contrast of tissue imaging. We have developed a new class of MRI contrast agent by de novo designing the Gd 3+ binding site(s) into a stable host protein. The designed protein contrast agent exhibit a more than 10 fold enhanced MRI relaxivity compared to that of commonly used Gd-DTPA. The objective of this research project is to develop the novel protein MRI contrast as diseases diagnosis and molecular imaging tool.

Lab Information

  • Molecular Biology & Cancer Biology
First Name Surname Position Email
Hongwei Han
Liangwei (William) Li PhD student
Neha Panchbhai
Guangda Peng
Ganesh Satyanarayana
Ravi Chakra Turaga PhD student
Jianhua Yang postdoc/staff
Yinwei Zhang PhD student