Wei Xu, PhD

Portrait of Wei Xu, PhD
Professor
Oncology
Address: 
7457 WIMR
1111 Highland Ave
Madison, WI 53705
Telephone: 
(608) 265-5540
Focus Groups: 
Cancer Biology
Education: 
Postdoc The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
PhD, University of Iowa
B.S. Peking University, Beijing, China
Research Summary: 
My lab works on understanding the progression of estrogen dependent and independent breast cancers and identifying novel therapeutic targets for personalized cancer treatment.
Research Detail: 

Xu’s laboratory is exploring the protective roles of environmental and nutritional estrogenic compounds in mammals for breast cancer prevention and treatment. Estrogen receptors (ERs) exist in two forms, ER and ER, which have opposing roles in cell proliferation. Estrogenic compounds can control balance between mammary cell proliferation and differentiation via stimulating the formation of different forms of ER dimers. Dr. Xu has developed the Bioluminescent Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET) assays for detecting in vivo homodimerization and heterodimerization of ER and ER induced by estrogenic compounds. These assays have been optimized for high throughput screening, which leads to identification of novel estrogenic compounds capable of differentially modulating these dimer forms. Biological functions of these estrogenic compounds are currently being investigated in cell-based and breast cancer mouse models.

Dr. Xu’s laboratory has also employed biochemical and functional genomic approaches, as well as mouse genetics to decipher the contribution of protein arginine methylation to the epigenetic control of cancer cells. The major focus of Xu lab is on a protein arginine (R) methyltransferase CARM1/PRMT4, a nuclear hormone receptor co-activator. Using Zinc Finger Nuclease to knock out CARM1 in a number of cancer cell lines, Dr. Xu has identified a number of non-histone substrates for CARM1 and elucidated the function of protein arginine methylation in cancer initiation and progression.

Selected Publications: 
Brinkman, A., Chen, G., Wang, Y., Hedman, C.J., Sherer, N., Havighurst, T.C. and Xu, W. Aminoflavone-loaded EGFR-targeted unimolecular micelle nanoparticles exhibit anti-cancer effects in triple-negative breast cancer, Biomaterials, 101: 20-31.
Zhao, Z., Wang, L., James, T., Jung, Y., Kim, I., Tan, R., Hoffmann, M. and Xu, W. (2015) Reciprocal regulation of ERα and ERβ stability and activity by Diptoindonesin G. Chemistry & Biology, 22: 1-14.
Zeng, H. and Xu, W. (2015) Ctr9, a key subunit of PAFc, affects global estrogen signalling and drives ERα -positive breast tumorigenesis. Genes & Development, 29: 2153-67.
Wang, L., Zeng, H., Wang, Q., Zhao, Z., Boyer T. G., Bian, X., and Xu, W. (2015) MED12 methylation by CARM1 sensitizes human breast cancer cells to chemotherapy drugs. Science Advances, 1: e1500463.
Zhao, Z., Wang, L., Xu, W. (2015) IL-13R2 mediates PNR-induced migration and metastasis in ER-negative breast cancer. Oncogene, 34(12): 1596-1607.
Brinkman, A.M., Wu, J., Ersland K., Xu, W. (2014) Estrogen receptor a and aryl hydrocarbon receptor independent growth inhibitory effects of aminoflavone in breast cancer cells. BMC Cancer, 14(1): 344.
Wang, L., Zhao, Z., Meyer, M. B., Saha, S., Yu, M., Guo, A., Wisinski, K. B., Huang, W., Cai, W., Pike, J. W., Yuan, M., Ahlquist, P., Xu, W. (2014) CARM1 methylates chromatin remodeling factor BAF155 to enhance tumor progression and metastasis. Cancer Cell, 25: 1-16.
Shanle, E., Zhao, Z., Hawse, J., Wisinski, K., Keles, S., Yuan, M., Xu, W. (2013) Global identification of estrogen receptor beta target genes in triple negative breast cancer cells. Molecular Endocrinology, 27(10): 1762-1775.
Wang L., Charoensuksai P., Watson N., Wang X., Zhao Z., Coriano C. G., Kerr L., Xu W., (2013) CARM1 automethylation is controlled at the level of alternative splicing, Nucleic Acid Research, 41(14): 6870-6880.
Wu, J. and Xu, W. (2012) Histone H3R17me2a mark recruits human PAF complex to activate transcription. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 109: 5675-80.
Wen, Z., Pyeon, D., Wang, Y., Lambert, P., Xu, W., and Ahlquist, P. Orphan Nuclear Receptor PNR/NR2E3 Stimulates p53 Functions by Enhancing p53 Acetylation. Mol. Cell. Biol., 32: 26-35, 2012. PMCID: PMC3255696
Shanle, E.K., Hawse, J.R. and Xu, W. (2011) Generation of stable reporter breast cancer cell lines for the identification of ER subtype selective ligands. Biochem Pharmacol, 82, 1940-1949. . PMCID: PMC3210412
Al-Dhaheri, M., Wu, J., Skliris, G.P., Li, J., Higashimato, K., Wang, Y., White, K.P., Lambert, P., Zhu, Y., Murphy, L. and Xu, W. (2011) CARM1 is an important determinant of ERalpha-dependent breast cancer cell differentiation and proliferation in breast cancer cells. Cancer Res, 71, 2118-2128. PMCID: PMC3076802
Powell, E., Shanle, E., Brinkman, A., Li, J., Keles, S., Wisinski, K.B., Huang, W. and Xu, W. (2012) Identification of estrogen receptor dimer selective ligands reveals growth-inhibitory effects on cells that co-express ERalpha and ERbeta. PLOS ONE, 7, e30993. PMCID: PMC3274540
Wu, J., and Xu, W. (2012) Histone H3R17me2a Mark Recruits Human PAF1 Complex to Activate Transcription. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 109: 5675-80. PMCID: PMC3326481
Wang L., Charoensuksai P., Watson N., Wang X., Zhao Z., Coriano C. G., Kerr L., Xu W., (2013) CARM1 automethylation is controlled at the level of alternative splicing, Nucleic Acid Research, 41(14): 6870-6880.
Zeng. H., Wu, J., Bedford M. T., Sbardella G., Hoffmann, F. M., Bi K., Xu, W., (2013) TR-FRET based functional assay for screening activators of a protein methyltransferase, ChemBioChem, 14(7): 827-35 * selected as cover for April issue 7 of ChemBioChem.
Zhao, Z., Wang, L., Wen, Z., Ayaz-guner S., Wang, Y., Ahlquist, P., Xu, W. (2013) Systematic analysis of the cytotoxic effects of compound 11a, a putative synthetic agonist of photoreceptor-specific nuclear receptor (PNR), in cancer cell lines. PLOS ONE, 8(9): e75198.
Shanle, E., Zhao, Z., Hawse, J., Wisinski, K., Keles, S., Yuan, M., Xu, W. (2013) Global identification of estrogen receptor beta target genes in triple negative breast cancer cells. Molecular Endocrinology, 27 (10): 1762-1775.
Wang, L., Zhao, Z., Meyer, M. B., Saha, S., Yu, M., Guo, A., Wisinski, K. B., Huang, W., Cai, W., Pike, J. W., Yuan, M., Ahlquist, P., Xu, W. (2014) CARM1 methylates chromatin remodeling factor BAF155 to enhance tumor progression and metastasis. Cancer Cell, 25: 1-16.
Zhao, Z., Wang, L., Xu, W. IL-13R2 mediates PNR-induced migration and metastasis in ER-negative breast cancer. Oncogene, in press.