Position title: Professor
Phone: (608) 265-5540
1111 Highland Ave
Madison, WI 53705
Postdoc The Salk Institute for Biological Studies
PhD, University of Iowa
B.S. Peking University, Beijing, China
My lab works on understanding the progression of estrogen dependent and independent breast cancers and identifying novel therapeutic targets for personalized cancer treatment.
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, ERα and ERβ, 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 ERα and ERβ 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.