Jianhang Jia, PhD
- Markey Cancer Center
Biography and Education
Ph.D., Institute of Genetics and Developmental Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 2000 Postdoc, UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, 2005
The goal of our research is to understand the molecular mechanisms of the Hedgehog (Hh) signaling, which governs the pattern formation, cell proliferation and differentiation. Malfunction of Hh signaling induces different types of cancers. The study in our laboratory focuses on how Hh signaling is involved in development, cancer, and metabolism. Hh pathway consists of two transmembrane proteins, Patched (Ptc) and Smoothened (Smo), and a zinc-finger transcription factor, Cubitus interruptus (Ci), that transduces Hh signal into the nuclei. Without Hh stimulation, Ptc inhibits Smo thus allowing Ci processing to generate its truncated form which enters the nuclei and blocks downstream genes. Upon Hh stimulation, the inhibition of Ptc on Smo is blocked and Smo transduces the Hh signal to downstream blocking Ci processing. Full-length Ci is translocated to the nuclear and turns on downstream genes. We are investigating the mechanisms of how Smo is activated in response to Hh stimulation and how Hh gradient can be translated into different thresholds of downstream gene expression.