• Title Associate Professor
  • Education PhD, Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Office K302
  • Phone 617-414-1033
  • Area of Interest Regulation of tumor cell growth and metabolism by protein phosphorylation

Our current research focuses on the regulation of cell metabolism and tumor cell growth by AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) and cross-talk between AMPK and TGF-b family signaling as well as associated cellular events.  Specifically, we are working on the following aspects: (1) AMPK regulation of cancer metastasis by inhibiting TGF-b signaling.  AMPK has been shown to improve metabolic syndrome and to be implicated in control of cancer cell growth.  We have demonstrated that sustained activation of AMPK by pharmacological activators attenuates the growth of cancer cells, concomitant with the inhibition of mTOR and fatty acid synthase, and upregulation of p53 and p21, whereas expression of the dominant negative mutant of AMPK causes opposite changes.      Recently, we have found that AMPK inhibits TGF-b signaling, leading to inhibition of epithelial to mesenchymal transition (EMT) of cancer cells; (2) AMPK regulation of BMP signaling.  Our data also revealed that activation of AMPK induces potent inhibition of Smad1/5 phosphorylation in response to BMP6, which concurs with the inhibition of BMP6-induced angiogenesis.  Currently, we are working on the mechanisms by which AMPK inhibits the signaling transduction pathways of TGF-b family and elucidate the biological relevance of this regulation.  Since dysregulation of BMP signaling is involved in retinopathy, a complication of type 2 diabetes, and tumor angiogenesis, and heterotopic ossifications, our studies may lead to the use of AMPK activators, such as metformin, in the treatment of these diseases.


Shanshan Jiang- Visiting Researcher
Hui Lin – Visiting Researcher
Yuanyuan Wang – Visiting Researcher
Ying Ying – Visiting Researcher

  1. He H, Liu D, Lin H, Jiang S, Ying Y, Chun S, Deng H, Zaia J, Wen R, Luo Z. Phosphatidylethanolamine binding protein 4 (PEBP4) is a secreted protein and has multiple functions. Biochim Biophys Acta. 2016 Jul; 1863(7 Pt A):1682-9. PMID: 27033522.
    View in: PubMed
  2. Huang D, He X, Zou J, Guo P, Jiang S, Lv N, Alekseyev Y, Luo L, Luo Z. Negative regulation of Bmi-1 by AMPK and implication in cancer progression. Oncotarget. 2016 Feb 2; 7(5):6188-200. PMID: 26717043.
    View in: PubMed
  3. Li NS, Zou JR, Lin H, Ke R, He XL, Xiao L, Huang D, Luo L, Lv N, Luo Z. LKB1/AMPK inhibits TGF-ß1 production and the TGF-ß signaling pathway in breast cancer cells. Tumour Biol. 2016 Jun; 37(6):8249-58. PMID: 26718214.
    View in: PubMed
  4. Yang Z, Xie C, Xu W, Liu G, Cao X, Li W, Chen J, Zhu Y, Luo S, Luo Z, Lu N. Phosphorylation and inactivation of PTEN at residues Ser380/Thr382/383 induced by Helicobacter pylori promotes gastric epithelial cell survival through PI3K/Akt pathway. Oncotarget. 2015 Oct 13; 6(31):31916-26. PMID: 26376616.
    View in: PubMed
  5. Lin H, Li N, He H, Ying Y, Sunkara S, Luo L, Lv N, Huang D, Luo Z. AMPK Inhibits the Stimulatory Effects of TGF-ß on Smad2/3 Activity, Cell Migration, and Epithelial-to-Mesenchymal Transition. Mol Pharmacol. 2015 Dec; 88(6):1062-71. PMID: 26424816.
    View in: PubMed
  6. Luo L, Jiang S, Huang D, Lu N, Luo Z. MLK3 phophorylates AMPK independently of LKB1. PLoS One. 2015; 10(4):e0123927. PMID: 25874865.
    View in: PubMed
  7. He H, Ke R, Lin H, Ying Y, Liu D, Luo Z. Metformin, an old drug, brings a new era to cancer therapy. Cancer J. 2015 Mar-Apr; 21(2):70-4. PMID: 25815846.
    View in: PubMed
  8. He G, Zhang YW, Lee JH, Zeng SX, Wang YV, Luo Z, Dong XC, Viollet B, Wahl GM, Lu H. AMP-activated protein kinase induces p53 by phosphorylating MDMX and inhibiting its activity. Mol Cell Biol. 2014 Jan; 34(2):148-57. PMID: 24190973.
    View in: PubMed
  9. Luo L, Huang W, Tao R, Hu N, Xiao ZX, Luo Z. ATM and LKB1 dependent activation of AMPK sensitizes cancer cells to etoposide-induced apoptosis. Cancer Lett. 2013 Jan 1; 328(1):114-9. PMID: 22960274.
    View in: PubMed
  10. Wang B, Zhang H, Zhu M, Luo Z, Peng Y. MEK1-ERKs signal cascade is required for the replication of Enterovirus 71 (EV71). Antiviral Res. 2012 Jan; 93(1):110-7. PMID: 22101247.
    View in: PubMed

Complete list can be found at BU Profiles

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