The primary research interests in Dr. Lu’s laboratory focus on four scientific areas: 1) Molecular genetics of the kidney and urinary tract development and congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT). 2) Biological function and disease mechanism of kidney and urinary tract birth defect genes and their roles after birth in common kidney diseases. 3) SLIT-ROBO and ZEB signaling in kidney and urinary tract development and disease. 4) Discover and develop novel drug targets and therapeutics for patients with chronic kidney diseases.
Congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT) is a complex birth defect with a diverse phenotypic spectrum, including kidney anomalies (e.g. renal agenesis, multicystic dysplastic kidney (MCDK), renal cystic disease, hydronephrosis), and ureteric anomalies (e.g. vesicoureteral reflux (VUR), reflux nephropathy, and obstructive uropathy) (Ref 1, 2). CAKUT is a genetically heterogeneous disorder with an incidence of 1 in 100 infants and accounts for up to 50-60% of the diagnoses underlying chronic kidney disease among the 0 to 12-year age group. CAKUT is also the leading cause of chronic kidney disease and renal failure in children and a major risk factor for kidney failure in adults (Ref 3). Despite high incidence of CAKUT in children and adults with chronic kidney disease and renal failure, the genetic and molecular bases of CAKUT remain largely unclear.
Dr. Lu’s translational research program has adopted combined human and mouse molecular genetics approaches to identify a number of developmental genes to the study of kidney and urinary tract development and pathogenesis of CAKUT and chronic kidney disease. The first human molecular genetics approach is to study individuals with CAKUT and apparent genetic defects, with the aim of using gene mutations, genomic imbalances and chromosomal rearrangements as signposts to identify these disease genes (reverse genetics) (Ref 2). Thereafter, molecular identification and analysis of disease genes as well as mutation studies in affected individuals with a familial pattern of CAKUT will be carried out (forward genetics) (Ref 2, 4). The second approach is to study temporal and spatial expression patterns of disease genes in human and mouse. Meanwhile, knockout and transgenic mouse models of disease genes will be studied to elucidate more fully their roles in kidney and urinary tract development and disease (Ref 5-7). Once these disease genes (e.g. SLIT2, ROBO2, ZEB2) have been identified, a multidisciplinary approach will be taken to gain further mechanistic insights in vivo and in vitro on the role of these genes in normal and abnormal developmental processes of the kidney and urinary tract, and on the pathogenesis of CAKUT and chronic kidney disease (Ref 5-7). This multidisciplinary approach includes using biomedical research techniques in human and mouse genetics, developmental biology, protein biochemistry, molecular biology, pathology, pharmacology, and drug target discovery. The goal is to provide new knowledge of disease mechanisms underlying CAKUT and other rare genetic kidney diseases and developmental antecedents of these kidney and urinary tract genetic disorders, which may lead to discovery of novel drug targets and therapeutics for patients with chronic kidney disease (Ref 7) (https://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2016-11/bumc-rip_1111516.php).
Current research projects in Dr. Lu’s lab include: (1) Understand biological function and disease mechanisms of SLIT-ROBO and ZEB signaling in kidney and urinary tract development and congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT), podocyte biology and injury, pericyte biology and renal fibrosis. (2) Discover novel causative and susceptibility genes in children with kidney and urinary tract birth defects; (3) Identify novel drug targets and therapeutics for patients with chronic kidney disease. Dr. Lu’s research program is supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Pfizer Centers for Therapeutic Innovation.
(1). Lu W, Bush KT, Nigam SK. Regulation of ureteric bud outgrowth and the consequences of disrupted development. In Kidney Development, Disease, Repair and Regeneration (ed. Little MH), Pages 209-227 (Elsevier, 2016) (http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/B9780128001028000187)
(2). Lu W, van Eerde AM, Fan X, et al. Disruption of ROBO2 is associated with urinary tract anomalies and confers risk of vesicoureteral reflux. Am J Hum Genet 2007; 80:616-632. PMID: 17357069 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17357069).
(3) Calderon-Margalit R, Golan E, Twig G, et al. History of Childhood Kidney Disease and Risk of Adult End-Stage Renal Disease. N Engl J Med 2018; 378(5):4280438. PMID: 29385364 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29385364).
(4) Hwang DY, Kohl S, Fan X, et al. Mutations of the SLIT2-ROBO2 pathway genes SLIT2 and SRGAP1 Confer Risk for Congenital Anomalies of the Kidney and Urinary Tract. Hum Genet 2015; 134(8):905-916; PMID: 26026792 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26026792).
(5). Fan X, Li Q, Pisarek-Horowitz A, et al. Inhibitory effects of Robo2 on nephrin: a crosstalk between positive and negative signals regulating podocyte structure. Cell Reports 2012; 2:52-61. PMID: 22840396 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22840396).
(6). Rasouly HM, Kumar S, Chen S, et al. Loss of Zeb2 in mesenchyme-derived nephrons causes primary glomerulocystic kidney disease. Kidney Int 2016; Aug 30. PMID: 27591083 (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27591083).
(7) Fan X, Yang H, Kumar S, et al. SLIT2/ROBO2 signaling pathway inhibits nonmuscle myosin IIA activity and destabilizes kidney podocyte adhesion. JCI Insight 2016, Nov 17; 1(19):e86934. PMID: 27882344 (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27882344)
VISION STATEMENT of Dr. Lu’s laboratory on science and education: (1) to advance new knowledge, biomedical innovation, and scientific learning; (2) to promote understanding, collaboration, diversity and inclusion in biomedical research and education; (3) to contribute positively to scientific, medical and biomedical community, and society at large.
CORE VALUES: curiosity & innovation, diversity & inclusion, hard work & perseverance, honesty & fair play, courage & integrity.
CURRENT LAB MEMBERS:
Xueping Fan (PhD, McGill University), Instructor in Medicine, 617-414-1772, email@example.com.
Sudhir Kumar (DVM, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich), Postdoc, 617-638-7353, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richa Sharma (PhD, SGPGIMS Medical Institute in Lucknow), Postdoc, 617-414-2298, email@example.com.
Sabastian Cheung (MS in Medical Sciences Program, Graduate Medical Sciences, Boston University School of Medicine), Graduate student, 617-414-2238, firstname.lastname@example.org
Aneesha Pydi (Boston University 7 Year Combined Liberal Arts / Medical Education Program), BA/MD student, BU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). email@example.com
Brian D. Lara (Boston University Sargent School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences), Undergraduate student, BU Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP). firstname.lastname@example.org
PHD STUDENTS GRADUATED RECENTLY:
Hila Milo Rasouly (PhD, Graduate Program in Genetics and Genomics, Graduate Medical Sciences, Boston University School of Medicine). PhD thesis title: “Discovery and analysis of genes important in kidney development and disease”.
Anna Pisarek-Horowitz (PhD, Graduate Program in Molecular Translational Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences, Boston University School of Medicine). PhD thesis title: “Functional characterization of the SLIT2-ROBO2 signaling pathway in the podocyte”.
MS STUDENTS GRADUATED RECENTLY:
Tou S. Thao (MS in Medical Sciences Program, Graduate Medical Sciences, Boston University School of Medicine). MS thesis title: “Functional study of ROBO2 missense mutation identified in patients with congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT)”.
Postdoc position and thesis project for graduate students are available. For inquiries regarding these positions, please contact Dr. Lu at email@example.com
- Associate Professor, Nephrology, Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine
- Member, Evans Center for Interdisciplinary Biomedical Research, Boston University
- Graduate Faculty (Primary Mentor of Grad Students), Boston University School of Medicine, Graduate Medical Sciences
- Member, Genome Science Institute, Boston University
- Zhejiang University, MD
- Northeastern University, MSc
- Published on 3/24/2020
Pisarek-Horowitz A, Fan X, Kumar S, Rasouly HM, Sharma R, Chen H, Coser K, Bluette CT, Hirenallur-Shanthappa D, Anderson SR, Yang H, Beck LH, Bonegio RG, Henderson JM, Berasi SP, Salant DJ, Lu W. Loss of Roundabout Guidance Receptor 2 (Robo2) in Podocytes Protects Adult Mice from Glomerular Injury by Maintaining Podocyte Foot Process Structure. Am J Pathol. 2020 04; 190(4):799-816. PMID: 32220420.
- Published on 10/25/2019
Huang M, Zhu S, Huang H, He J, Tsuji K, Jin WW, Xie D, Ham O, Capen DE, Lu W, Paunescu TG, Yang B, Lu HAJ. Integrin-Linked Kinase Deficiency in Collecting Duct Principal Cell Promotes Necroptosis of Principal Cell and Contributes to Kidney Inflammation and Fibrosis. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2019 11; 30(11):2073-2090. PMID: 31653783.
- Published on 8/24/2018
van der Ven AT, Connaughton DM, Ityel H, Mann N, Nakayama M, Chen J, Vivante A, Hwang DY, Schulz J, Braun DA, Schmidt JM, Schapiro D, Schneider R, Warejko JK, Daga A, Majmundar AJ, Tan W, Jobst-Schwan T, Hermle T, Widmeier E, Ashraf S, Amar A, Hoogstraaten CA, Hugo H, Kitzler TM, Kause F, Kolvenbach CM, Dai R, Spaneas L, Amann K, Stein DR, Baum MA, Somers MJG, Rodig NM, Ferguson MA, Traum AZ, Daouk GH, Bogdanovic R, Stajic N, Soliman NA, Kari JA, El Desoky S, Fathy HM, Milosevic D, Al-Saffar M, Awad HS, Eid LA, Selvin A, Senguttuvan P, Sanna-Cherchi S, Rehm HL, MacArthur DG, Lek M, Laricchia KM, Wilson MW, Mane SM, Lifton RP, Lee RS, Bauer SB, Lu W, Reutter HM, Tasic V, Shril S, Hildebrandt F. Whole-Exome Sequencing Identifies Causative Mutations in Families with Congenital Anomalies of the Kidney and Urinary Tract. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2018 09; 29(9):2348-2361. PMID: 30143558.
- Published on 1/19/2018
van der Ven AT, Kobbe B, Kohl S, Shril S, Pogoda HM, Imhof T, Ityel H, Vivante A, Chen J, Hwang DY, Connaughton DM, Mann N, Widmeier E, Taglienti M, Schmidt JM, Nakayama M, Senguttuvan P, Kumar S, Tasic V, Kehinde EO, Mane SM, Lifton RP, Soliman N, Lu W, Bauer SB, Hammerschmidt M, Wagener R, Hildebrandt F. A homozygous missense variant in VWA2, encoding an interactor of the Fraser-complex, in a patient with vesicoureteral reflux. PLoS One. 2018; 13(1):e0191224. PMID: 29351342.
- Published on 1/9/2018
Tumelty KE, Higginson-Scott N, Fan X, Bajaj P, Knowlton KM, Shamashkin M, Coyle AJ, Lu W, Berasi SP. Identification of direct negative cross-talk between the SLIT2 and bone morphogenetic protein-Gremlin signaling pathways. J Biol Chem. 2018 03 02; 293(9):3039-3055. PMID: 29317497.
- Published on 4/10/2017
Gore BB, Miller SM, Jo YS, Baird MA, Hoon M, Sanford CA, Hunker A, Lu W, Wong RO, Zweifel LS. Roundabout receptor 2 maintains inhibitory control of the adult midbrain. Elife. 2017 04 10; 6. PMID: 28394253.
- Published on 4/5/2017
Vivante A, Mann N, Yonath H, Weiss AC, Getwan M, Kaminski MM, Bohnenpoll T, Teyssier C, Chen J, Shril S, van der Ven AT, Ityel H, Schmidt JM, Widmeier E, Bauer SB, Sanna-Cherchi S, Gharavi AG, Lu W, Magen D, Shukrun R, Lifton RP, Tasic V, Stanescu HC, Cavaillès V, Kleta R, Anikster Y, Dekel B, Kispert A, Lienkamp SS, Hildebrandt F. A Dominant Mutation in Nuclear Receptor Interacting Protein 1 Causes Urinary Tract Malformations via Dysregulation of Retinoic Acid Signaling. J Am Soc Nephrol. 2017 Aug; 28(8):2364-2376. PMID: 28381549.
- Published on 12/31/2016
Chen J, Van Der Ven A, Newman J, Vivante A, Mann N, Shril S, Schulz J, Ityel H, Schmidt MJ, Widmeier E, Gileadi O, Sharrocks A, Palmer K, Costantini K, Cebrian C, Thowfeequ S, Wenger RH, Bauer SB, Lee RS, Lu W, Lienkamp SS, Lifton RP, Tasic V, Kehinde EO, Hildebrandt F. ETV4 mutation in a patient with congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract. International Journal of Pediatrics and Child Health. 2016; 2(4):61-71.
- Published on 11/17/2016
Fan X, Yang H, Kumar S, Tumelty KE, Pisarek-Horowitz A, Rasouly HM, Sharma R, Chan S, Tyminski E, Shamashkin M, Belghasem M, Henderson JM, Coyle AJ, Salant DJ, Berasi SP, Lu W. SLIT2/ROBO2 signaling pathway inhibits nonmuscle myosin IIA activity and destabilizes kidney podocyte adhesion. JCI Insight. 2016 11 17; 1(19):e86934. PMID: 27882344.
- Published on 9/21/2016
Havasi A, Lu W, Cohen HT, Beck L, Wang Z, Igwebuike C, Borkan SC. Blocking peptides and molecular mimicry as treatment for kidney disease. Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2017 Jun 01; 312(6):F1016-F1025. PMID: 27654896.
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