The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
McGovern Medical School
Department of Integrative Biology and Pharmacology
Physical exercise induces a profound alteration of energy metabolism in skeletal muscle as well as in other organs such as heart, liver, and adipose tissue, which contributes to its beneficial effects in combating metabolic diseases/syndromes and maintaining human health. A better understanding of energy metabolism regulation during exercise will shed lights on novel therapies for metabolic diseases and syndromes.
The research projects in the newly established Liu lab aim to identify and decipher cellular pathways that regulate energy metabolism during exercise in skeletal and cardiac muscles, with a particular emphasis on two such pathways, the AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) signaling pathway and the autophagy pathway. AMPK is a master regulator of energy homeostasis. Its activation in response to cellular energy shortage helps restore energy balance through enhancing energy production and inhibiting energy consumption. Autophagy is a cellular process to degrade and recycle unnecessary and dysfunctional cell components, essential for the maintenance of cellular homeostasis by removing harmful intracellular material, and by utilizing internal sources of nutrients under energy stress conditions. The AMPK signaling and autophagy are two independently regulated yet interlinked cellular pathways. Ongoing projects in Liu lab focuses on revealing the novel regulations of AMPK signaling and autophagy process during exercise in muscles, and the potential interplay between these two pathways. Liu lab is also interested in understanding energy metabolism adaptation in other pathophysiological conditions, such as myocardial ischemia/reperfusion and tumorigenesis.
A tutorial in Liu lab would provide fundamental knowledge on energy metabolism regulation and opportunity to carry out both in vitro and in vivo biochemical analysis using cultured cell and genetically engineered mice, respectively, in addition to gaining experience with other cellular/molecular biology approaches.
McGovern Medical School Faculty
Education & Training
PhD – University of Louvain – 2013