Phone: +1 (212) 220-8000;ext=8554
Assistant Professor Jun Liang is the Principal Investigator of a grant award of $150,000 from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to conduct research now through March 2017 into molecular mechanisms that respond to stress and impact on aging.
This is the first time a major NIH research grant has been awarded to a community college as the leading institution, says Liang, whose research focuses on animal development, animal stress management and aging and involves a team of BMCC students who serve as research assistants in the lab. “The project provides great opportunities for them to practice scientific concept learned from the class, hands on research experiments, data analysis, and critical thinking skills,” Liang says.
The study uses nematode C. elegans as a model. “Research has shown that the transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-beta) superfamily consists of a large group of secreted growth factors that regulate various cell responses,” Liang explains. “The major TGF-beta pathway components are conserved across evolutionary species. We take advantage of those viable mutants and study molecular mechanism of TGF-beta signaling regulated physiological functions.”
In short, the research examines how genetic components influence animal thermal stress management. Meanwhile, it also looks at the aging process, in particular longevity and muscle aging.
Molecular mechanism of stress response and aging
My research focuses on functions of TGF-beta signaling in animal development, stress response, and aging. The transforming growth factor- beta (TGF- beta) superfamily consists of a large group of secreted growth factors that regulate various cell responses such as cell arrest, cell proliferation, apoptosis, cell differentiation, tumor genesis, and tumor metastasis. C. elegans is a free-living organism with a rapid life cycle. It is an excellent model organism for genetic studies, cell biology, and biotechnology.
Stress affects aging significantly. Genetic mutations resulting in high tolerance of stress cues often live longer, whereas mutations bearing lower tolerance often live shorter. There are various signal pathways that regulate stress response and aging. We are using C. elegans as a model to dissect the molecular aspects of stress response and evaluate how they affect aging process, in particular the DBL-1 / TGF- beta pathway components. We are also interested in discovering new genes that contribute to aging.
Genes regulating stress response affect significantly the efficiency of cancer therapy. One type of cellular stress response often results in cross-protection of other stressor in cells. Stress response genes and pathways could be therapeutic targets for cancers. Meanwhile, TGF- beta signaling components are mutated in various cancers at various frequencies. Altered gene expression also plays important role in tumor progression and tumor metastasis. Our studies on TGF- beta signaling components in stress response will impact cancer therapy strategy.
Our research team is primarily made of undergraduate students from BMCC. The project provides great opportunities for them to practice scientific concept learned from the class, hands-on research experiments, data analysis and critical thinking skills.
Stress Response, Aging, Developmental Biology, and Molecular Genetics
- Ph.D. The Graduate Center, the City University of New York (CUNY), Biochemistry,2005
- This two-semester course acquaints students with the basic properties of living systems: metabolism, growth, responsiveness and reproduction at the cellular and organism levels as illustrated by assorted plants and animals. Two terms required. Corequisite for BIO 210 is ENG 101 Prerequisite for BIO 220 is BIO 210
- This two-semester course explores the human body as an integrated, functional complex of systems. Terminology, structure and function of each organ-system, with emphasis on their interrelationships, are explained. Required of students in the health services technologies; available to all other students for elective credit.
Prerequisite for BIO 426 is BIO 425. Two terms required. Prerequisite: CHE 118 or CHE 121, or departmental approval NOTE: BIO 425 and BIO 426 do not meet the science requirements in the liberal arts curriculum.
Research and Projects
- TGF-beta signaling in stress response
- TGF-beta signaling in aging
- Recent Research Award from NIH
- Liang J. Sheng JH, Lin GF, Fu WJ. Purification and biochemical property of resistance related carboxylesterase in mosquito Culex pipiens pallens., Acta Entomologica Sinica (2001) 44, 161-169.
- Zhou BH, Chen JS, Chai MQ, Zhao S, Liang J, Chen HH, Song JG. Activation of phospholipase D activity in transforming growth factor-beta-induced cell growth inhibition., Cell Research (2000), 10, 139-149.
- Liang J. Lints R, Foehr ML, Tokarz R, Yu L, Emmons SW, Liu J, Savage-Dunn C. The Caenorhabditis elegans schnurri Homolog, sma-9, Mediates Stage- and Cell Type- Specific Responses to dbl-1 BMP-related Signaling. , Development (2003) 130, 6453-64.
- Liang J, Yu L, Yin J, Savage-Dunn C. Transcriptional Repressor and Activator Activities of SMA-9 Contribute Differentially to BMP-Related Signaling Outputs., Development Biology (2007) 305, 714-25.
- Huang X, Di Liberto M, Jayabalan D, Liang J, Ely S, Bretz J, Shaffer AL 3rd, Louie T, Chen I, Randolph S, Hahn WC, Staudt LM, Niesvizky R, Moore MA, Chen-Kiang S. Prolonged early G(1) arrest by selective CDK4/CDK6 inhibition sensitizes myeloma cells, Blood. (2012) 120(5):1095-106.
- Liang J, Xiong S, Savage-Dunn, C. Using RNA-mediated interference feeding strategy to screen for genes involved in body size regulation in the nematode C. elegans., Journal of Visualized Experiments. (2013) Feb 13;(72). doi:pii: 4373.
- Liang J, De Castro A, Flores L. Detecting Protein Subcellular Localization by Green Fluorescence Protein Tagging and 4′,6-Diamidino-2-phenylindole Staining in Caenorhabditis elegans2018, Journal of Visualized Experiments (137), e57914, doi:10.3791/57914 (2018)
- Liang J, Shaulov Y, Savage-Dunn C, Boissinot S, Hoque T. Chloride intracellular channel proteins respond to heat stress in Caenorhabditis elegans. , PLoS One. 2017 Sep 8;12(9):e0184308.
Honors, Awards and Affiliations
- BMCC Presidential Scholarship
Role: PIStudy of Stress response and aging in C.elegans Jan 2013 – Jan 2014
- National Institute on Aging (NIA/NIH) Research Award
Role: PINovel function of CLIC and TGF-beta signaling in stress response and healthspan in C. elegans Apr 2015 – Mar 2018
- CUNY Collaborative Incentive Research Grant (CIRG)
Role: Co-PIRole of CLIC in regulating stress response in C. elegans Sep 2011 – Sep 2013
- ASAP Faculty Development Grant
Role: Co-PI;Redesigning STEM Gateway Courses to Reduce Attrition Rate Jan 2017- Aug 2018
- Community College Research Grant (CCRG)
Role: PITitle: Novel mechanism of Chloride intracellular channel protein (CLIC) regulated healthy aging March 2018- March 2019
- William P. Kelly Fellowship Aug 2019- Jun 2020
Tasmia Hoque; Hung Szeto; Seneqe Wielingen; Annie Khaw;
Lizette Flores; Aijo De Castro; Keresser Leo; Wingmei Leung; Ying Ying Cai;
Malintha Abeysiri; Romario Denoon; Moufliha Mohamadou;
Claudia Guerrero;Tammy Velasquez; Sergio Gomez-Navarro; Loviena Motilall; and others