Xinyu Zhao, PhD

Portrait of Xinyu Zhao, PhD
Associate Professor
1500 Highland Avenue
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 263-9906
Focus Groups: 
PhD, Pharmacology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Post-doctoral, Salk Institute of Biological Studies, San Diego, CA
Research Summary: 
The molecular mechanisms that regulate neural stem cells and neurodevelopment with the goal of applying this knowledge in the treatment of neurological disorders and injuries
Research Detail: 

Stem cells have two fundamental properties: self-renewal and multipotency. During development, stem cells and resulting progenitor cells are responsible for generating all the tissues and cells of an organism. In the adult, stem cells exist in many tissues throughout life and may play critical roles in physiological functions and tissue regeneration. The maintenance of their "stemness" state and commitment to differentiation are tightly controlled by both intrinsic genetic and epigenetic programs and extrinsic stimuli.

Neural stem cells in the postnatal brain have significant roles in both normal brain functions, such as learning and memory and the brain’s response to injuries. My laboratory is investigating the mechanisms governing the behaviors and functions of neural stem cells and its implication in neurological diseases and learning disorders.

Epigenetic mechanisms, including DNA methylation, chromatin remodeling, and noncoding RNAs have profound regulatory roles in controlling mammalian gene expression. Disturbance of these interacting systems can lead to inappropriate expression or silencing of genes, causing an array of multi-system disorders. A main focus of my lab research is to understand the epigenetic basis of cell fate specification and neurodevelopment.

Neurodevelopmental disorders are highly heterogeneous constellation of disorders, both in terms of etiology and clinical manifestations. Using neural stem cells as model systems, we are investigating the molecular mechanisms that regulate neuronal development during postnatal period and their implications in human neurodevelopmental disorders such as Rett Syndrome, Autism, and Fragile X syndrome.

Selected Publications: 
Smrt RD,Pfeiffer RL, and Zhao X. Age-Dependent Expression of Mecp2 in a Novel Heterozygous Mosaic Mouse Model.Hum. Mol. Genet. 2011. PMID: 21330301.
Guo W, Allan AM, Zong R, Zhang L, Johnson EB, Schaller EG, Murthy A, Goggin SL, Eisch AJ, Oostra BA, Nelson DL, Jin P, and Zhao X. Selective deletion of FMRP in adult neural stem cells disrupts hippocampal neurogenesis and learning Nature Medicine 2011 17(5):559-65. PMID: 21516088. (Cover story. Featured by Faculty1000 as top 2% of published articles in biology and medicine.)
Guo W, Zhang L, Christopher DM, Teng Z, Fausett SR, Klingensmith K, Jin P, and Zhao X. RNA-binding Protein FXR2 Regulates Proliferation and Differentiation of Adult Hippocampal Neural Stem Cells by Reducing Noggin Expression Neuron 2011. 70 (5): 924-938.
Luo Y, ShanG, Guo W, Smrt RD, Johnson EB, Li X, Pfeiffer RL, Szulwach KE, Duan R, Barkho BZ, Li W, Liu C, Jin Pand Zhao X. Fragile X mental retardation protein regulates proliferation and differentiation of adult neural stem/progenitor cells PLoS Genetics, 2010. 6(4):e1000898. PMID: 20386739
Szulwach KE, Li X, Smrt RD, Li Y, Luo Y, Li L, Lin L, Santistevan NJ, Li W, Zhao X, and Jin P. Cross talk between microRNA and epigenetic regulation in adult neurogenesis J. Cell Biol., 2010 189 (1) 127-41. PMC Journal – In Process.
Liu C, Teng Z, Santistevan NJ, Szulwach KE, Guo W, Jin P, and Zhao X. Epigenetic regulation of miR-184 by Mbd1 governs neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation Cell Stem Cell, 2010. 6(5):433-44. PMID: 20452318
Smrt RD,Szulwach KE Pfeiffer RL, Li X, Guo W, Pathania M, Teng Z, Luo Y, Peng J, Wilson MC, Bordey A, Jin P, and Zhao X. MicroRNA miR-137 regulates neuronal maturation by targeting ubiquitin ligase Mind Bomb-1 Stem Cells, 2010. 28(6):1060-70. PMID: 20506192
Li X., Barkho BZ, Luo Y, Smrt RD, Liu C, Kuwabara T, Gage FH, and Zhao X. Epigenetic regulation of stem cell mitogen FGF-2 by Mbd1 in adult neural stem/progenitor cells. J. Biol. Chem. 2008. 283(41):27644-52. PMCID: PMC2562066
Allan AM, Liang X, Luo,Y, Pak C, LI, X, Szulwach KE, Chen D, Jin P, and Zhao X. The loss of methyl-CpG binding protein 1 leads to autism-like behavioral deficits 2008 Hum. Mol. Genet. 2008 17(13):2047-57. PMCID: PMC2700628
Barkho BZ, Munoz A, Li X, Li L, Cunningham LA, and Zhao X. Endogenous Matrix Metalloproteinase (MMP)-3 and MMP-9 Promote the Differentiation and Migration of Adult Neural Progenitor Cells in Response to Chemokines. Stem Cells. 2008 26(12):3139-49.