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Dr. Liqin Du - Assistant Professor

Dr. Liqin Du

Contact Information

Office:  CHEM 210

Phone:  (512) 245-1038

Fax:  (512) 245-2374


Educational Background

  • Bachelor of Medicine, Shanghai Medical University, Shanghai, China, 1992
  • Ph.D., Nutritional Sciences, University of Kentucky, Lexington, Kentucky, 2004
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, McDermott Center for Human Growth and Development, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas, 2009

Areas of Interest

  • The role of micro RNAs in regulating neuroblastoma cell differentiation
  • Discovery of novel differentiation agents for treating neuroblastoma
  • Novel genes regulating neuroblastoma cell differentiation
  • Novel genes in lung tumorigenesis




Research in the Du Group

My primary research focus is on neuroblastoma, with a goal to identify novel drugs/drug targets for neuroblastoma differentiation therapy. Neuroblastoma is the most common solid tumor of infancy and the most common extracranial solid tumor of childhood. It accounts for more than 7% of childhood cancer incidence and 15% of cancer-related deaths in childhood. Neuroblastoma arises from the neural crest cell precursors of the sympathetic nervous system that fails to complete the process of differentiation, which provides the basis for differentiation therapy, a treatment approach to induce the differentiation of the malignant cells and thereby leading to tumor growth arrest (Figure). However, there are only a limited number of differentiation agents that have been successfully used to treatment neuroblastoma, and over 50% of the patients treated with current differentiation agents still develop recurrence. Such poor outcomes demand the development of more effective differentiation agents.

On the other hand, the mechanisms that control neuroblastoma cell differentiation is still poorly understood, which poses an obstacle to the development of new differentiation agents.

My current research directions are (Figure): (1) Identifying novel genes and molecular pathways that control neuroblastoma cell differentiation, in order to discover new drug targets for developing differentiation therapies. (2) Discovering new differentiation agents from various sources of anti-cancer drugs, including microRNAs, natural products and synthetic small molecule compounds.

Du Research

Recent Publications

1. Zhao Z, Ma X, Sung D, Li M, Kosti A, Lin G, Chen Y, Pertsemlidis A, Hsiao TH and *Du L. microRNA-449a functions as a tumor suppressor in neuroblastoma through inducing cell differentiation and cell cycle arrest. RNA Biology. 2015; 12(5): 538-554.

2. Zhao Z, Ma X, Hsiao TH, Lin G, Kosti A, Yu X, Suresh U, Chen Y, Tomlinson G, Pertsemlidis A and *Du L. A high-content morphological screen identifies novel microRNAs that regulate neuroblastoma cell differentiation. Oncotarget. 2014; 5(9): 2499-512. PMID: 24811707.

3. Borkowski R, Du L, Zhao Z, McMillan E, Kosti A, Yang CR, Suraokar M, Wistuba WI, Gazdar AF, Minna JD, White MA, and Pertsemlidis A. Genetic Mutation of p53 and Suppression of the 3 miR-17-92 Cluster Are Synthetic Lethal in Non–Small Cell Lung Cancer due to Upregulation of Vitamin D Signaling. Cancer Research, 2015;75(4):666-75. doi: 10.1158/0008-5472.

4. Du L*, Zhao Z, Ma X, Hsiao TH, Chen Y, Young E, Suraokar M, Wistuba I, Minna JD and Pertsemlidis A. miR-93-directed down-regulation of DAB2 defines a novel oncogenic pathway in lung cancer. Oncogene. 2014; 33: 4307-4315. PMID: 24037530.

5. Du L, Borkowski R, Zhao Z, Yu X, Ma X and Pertsemlidis A. A high-throughput screen identifies miRNA inhibitors regulating lung cancer cell survival and response to paclitaxel. RNA Biology. 2013; 10(11): 1700-1713. PMID: 24157646.

6. Du L, Subauste MC, DeSevo C, Zhao Z, Baker M, Borkowski R, Schageman JJ, Greer R, Yang C, Suraokar M, Wistuba II, Gazdar AF, Minna JD and Pertsemlidis A. miR-337-3p and its targets STAT3 and RAP1A modulate taxane sensitivity in non-small cell lung cancers. PLoS ONE. 2012; 7(6): e39167. PMID: 22723956; PMCID: PMC3377607.

7. Du L and Pertsemlidis A. Cancer and neurodegenerative disorders: pathogenic convergence through microRNA regulation. J Mol Cell Biol. 2011; 3(3): 176-80. PMID: 21278200; PMCID: PMC3104012. (Review)

8. Du L*, Schageman JJ, Irnov, Girard L, Hammond SM, Minna JD, Gazdar AF and Pertsemlidis A. microRNA expression distinguishes SCLC from NSCLC lung tumor cells and suggests a possible pathological relationship between SCLCs and NSCLCs. J Exp Clin Cancer Res. 2010; 29:75. PMID: 20624269; PMCID: PMC2907339.

9. Gibbons DL, Lin W, Creighton CJ, Rizvi ZH, Gregory PA, Goodall GJ, Thilaganathan N, Du L, Zhang Y, Pertsemlidis A and Kurie JM. Contextual extracellular cues promote tumor cell EMT and metastasis by regulating miR-200 family expression. Genes Dev. 2009; 23(18): 2140-2151. PMID: 19759262; PMCID: PMC2751985.

10. Du L*, Schageman JJ, Subauste MC, Saber B, Hammond SM, Prudkin L, Wistuba II, Ji L, Roth JA, Minna JD and Pertsemlidis A. miR-93, miR-98 and miR-197 regulate expression of tumor suppressor gene FUS1. Mol Cancer Res. 2009; 7(8): 1234–1243. PMID: 19671678; PMCID: PMC2741087.


Complete list of publications