CLAS Supplementary Start-Up Funds: Ruijie Lui
The heart undergoes hypertrophy in response to increased workload by physiological or pathological stimulation, such as exercise, pregnancy, hypertension, and ischemic heart disease. Research in my lab focuses on understanding the molecular mechanism underlying cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure. We are particularly interested with a group of protein phosphatases called dual specificity phosphatases (DUSPs) that dephosphorylate mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) at the threonine and tyrosine residues. In our previous study, DUSP8 was discovered to control the growth dynamics of cardiomyocytes through regulation of ERK1/2 signaling in mouse heart. However, it is still unknown how the activity and stability of DUSP8 are regulated. We are currently trying to identify the critical motifs within DUSP8 protein that regulate its activity using site-directed mutagenesis followed by biochemical analysis. Another interesting project in my lab is to investigate the role of ERK1/2 signaling in homeostasis using mice deficient for both Dusp6 and Dusp8 genes. We hypothesize that loss of both Dusp6 and Dusp8 genes leads to enhanced ERK signaling and myocyte proliferation, which protects the heart from disease. We have established colonies for both wild type and knockout mice, and will answer these questions using various in vivo and in vitro approaches.
My lab welcomes undergraduate students who are really interested in gaining biomedical research experience. Students in the lab will be exposed to a variety of research methods as well as one-on-one scientific training. In addition, students are encouraged to attend conferences to present the research findings and submit the manuscript to peer-reviewed scientific journals.