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Faculty Profile

Yu LiuYu Liu

Assistant Professor
Department of Biology and Biochemistry

Office: Science & Engineering Research 2, 4006
Contact: yliu54@uh.edu - (713) 743-8173

Education: Ph.D., The University of Hong Kong

Google Scholar Profile

Dr. Yu Liu is interested in the regulatory mechanisms of early embryonic development. At the early stages of life when the embryo comprises only a few hundreds of cells, cellular differentiation and organogenesis are highly dynamic and regulated by powerful factors such as pioneer transcription factors and non-coding RNAs. By learning these processes, Liu hopes to provide unique insights into human diseases and develop novel approaches to treat them.

Liu’s recent work on miR-322/503 exemplifies a typical approach. Using mouse genetic tools, the lab identified miR-322/503 as one of highest enriched microRNA clusters in early heart progenitor cells. Next, they learned that triggering the expression of miR-322/503 was sufficient to drive heart muscle cell differentiation in a cell culture system. Currently, Liu is using animal models to address how ectopic expression (transgenic) or deletion (knockout) of miR-322/503 affects normal heart function and the outcome of ischemic heart diseases.

  • Shen X, Bao W, Yu W, Liang R, Nguyen B, and Liu Y. An improved method with high sensitivity and low background in detecting low b-galactosidase expression in mouse embryos. PLoS One. 2017. 12(5):e0176915.
  • Liu Y. Earlier and broader roles of Mesp1 in cardiovascular development. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 2017. 74:1969. doi:10.1007/s00018-016-2448-y2017
  • Shen X, Soibam B, Benham A, Xu X, Chopra M, Peng X, Yu W, Bao W, Liang R, Azares A, Gunaratne HP, Mercola M, Cooney AJ, Schwartz R, and Liu Y. The miR-322/503 cluster is expressed in the earliest cardiac progenitor cells and drives cardiomyocyte specification. PNAS. 2016. 113(34):9551
  • Liu Y, Chen L, Diaz AD, Benham A, Xu X, Wijaya C, Luo W, Soibam B, Prejusa A, Yu W, Guanaratne P, Cooney A, McConnell BK, Schwartz RJ. Mesp1 marked cardiac progenitor cells repair infarcted mouse hearts. Sci Rep. 2016. 6:31457; doi: 10.1038/srep31457
  • Liu Y, Mercola M, and Schwartz RJ. The all chemical approach: A solution for converting fibroblasts into myocytes. Circulation Research. 2016. 2016. 119(4):505
  • Liang R, Dong W, Shen X, Peng X, and Liu Y. Modeling myotonic dystrophy 1 in C2C12 myoblast cells. J. Vis. Exp. 2016. 113: e54078; doi:10.3791/54078
  • Soibam B, Benham A, Kim J, Weng K-C, Yang L, Xu X, Robertson M, Azares A, Cooney AJ,  Schwartz RJ, and Liu Y. Genome-wide identification of MESP1 targets demonstrates primary regulation over mesendoderm gene activity. Stem Cells. 2015. 33:3254
  • Peng X, Shen X, Chen X, Liang R, Azares AR, Liu Y. Celf1 regulates cell cycle and is partially responsible for defective myoblast differentiation in myotonic dystrophy RNA toxicity. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. 2015. 1852:1490
  • Liu Y, Kaneda R, Leja TW, Subkhankulova T, Tolmachov O, Minchiotti G, Schwartz RJ, Barahona M, and Schneider MD. Hhex and Cer1 mediate the Sox17 pathway for cardiac mesoderm formation in embryonic stem cells. Stem Cells. 2014. 32:1515
  • Li Y, Yu W, Cooney AJ, Schwartz RJ, Liu Y. Oct4 and canonical Wnt signaling regulate the cardiac lineage factor Mesp1 through a Tcf/Lef-Oct4 composite element. Stem Cells. 2013. 31:1213
  • Liu Y and Schwartz RJ. Transient Mesp1 expression: a driver of cardiac cell fate determination. Transcription. 2013. 4:1.
  • Liu Y and Schwartz RJ. Reprogrammed cardiac fibroblasts to the rescue of heart failure. Circulation Research. 2012. 111:831.
  • Islas JF*, Liu Y*, Weng KC*, Robertson MJ, Zhang S, Prejusa A, Harger J, Tikhomirova D, Chopra M, Iyer D, Mercola M, Oshima RG, Willerson JT, Potaman VN, Schwartz RJ. Transcription factors ETS2 and MESP1 transdifferentiate human dermal fibroblasts into cardiac progenitors.  PNAS. 2012. 109:13016

* Equal contribution authors