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Cal Poly Pomona Experts Guide


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Junjun Liu, Professor of Cell Biology

Junjun Liu and students in his lab study the molecular mechanism underlying the regulation of breast cancer cell invasion that is the initial step towards metastasis. Currently, they are focusing on the regulation of cell invasion by epigenetic mechanisms. The lab also studies mitosis, particularly the events regulated by polo-like kinase 1 (Plk1). Plk1 plays a key role in the cell cycle and has emerged as a promising drug target for cancer therapy. They are working to understand how Plk1 regulates these mitotic events by phosphorylating its substrates.

Recent Grants and Fellowships:

  • Principal Investigator, National Institutes of Health, SCORE SC3 (NIH/NIGMS 1SC3GM132056-01), How ubiquitination/deubiquitination of histone H2A regulates breast cancer cell invasion, $420,000, 2019-23

Selected Publications:

  • Lolarga, E. Nafie, B. Lam, J. Guo, E. Abdollahzadeh, S. Rodriguez and C. Glackin; “Harmine inhibits breast cancer cell migration and invasion by inducing the degradation of Twist1;” PLOS ONE: 16(2); Feb. 24, 2021
  • With H. Chen, X. Xu, G. Wang, B. Zhang, G. Wang, G. Xin, Q. Jiang, H. Zhang and C. Zhang; “CDK4 is degraded by APC/C in mitosis and reaccumulates in early G1 phase to initiate a new cell cycle in HeLa cells;” J. Biol. Chem.: 292(24):10131-10141; June 16, 2017
  • With C. Zhang, “The equilibrium of ubiquitination and deubiquitination at PLK1 regulates sister chromatid separation,” Cell Mol Life Sci: Feb 10, 2017
  • With Q. Ji, J. Lee, YH. Lin,  G. Jing, LJ. Tsai, A. Chen, L. Hetrick and D. Jocoy; “Atrazine and malathion shorten the maturation process of Xenopus laevis oocytes and have an adverse effect on early embryo development;” Toxicol In Vitro: 32:63-9; April 2016
  • With X. Zhuo, X. Guo, X. Zhang, G. Jing, Y. Wang, Q. Chen, Q. Jiang and C. Zhang; “Usp16 regulates kinetochore localization of Plk1 to promote proper chromosome alignment in mitosis;” J Cell Biol: 210(5):727-35; Aug 31, 2015
  • “Regulating Greatwall for Mitosis,” Cell Cycle: 15:0 Jan. 2015
  • With G. Wang, Q. Chen, X. Zhang, B. Zhang, X. Zhuo, Q. Jiang and C. Zhang; “PCM1 Recruits Plk1 to Pericentriolar Matrix to Promote Primary Cilia Disassembly before Mitotic Entry;” J Cell Sci: 126(Pt 6):1355-65; March 15, 2013
  • With X. Zhang, Q. Chen, J. Feng, Q. Jiang and C. Zhang; “Sequential Phosphorylation of Nedd1 by Cdk1 and Plk1 is required for γTuRC targeting to centrosome;” J Cell Sci: 122(Pt 13):2240-51; July 1, 2009
  • With J. Fu, M. Bian, Q. Jiang and C. Zhang; “A Single Amino Acid Transition Converts Aurora-A into Aurora-B-like Kinase in Terms of Partner Specificity and Cellular Function;” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A: 106 (17):6939-44, April 28, 2009
  • With J.E. Gajewski, M.J. Bird, M.O. Crowhurst, D. Lio, R.E.H. Wettenhall, H. Zhu and H-C Cheng; “Expression, Generation and Purification of Unphosphorylated and Phospho-Ser-380/Thr-382/Thr-383 Form of Recombinant PTEN phosphatase;” Protein Expression and Purification: May 10, 2007
  • With B. Grimson and J.L. Maller, “New insights into metaphase arrest by cytostatic factor: from establishment to release,” Oncogene: 26(9):1286-9, Feb. 26, 2007
  • With J.L. Maller, “Calcium elevation at fertilization coordinates phosphorylation of XErp1/Emi2 by Plx1 and CaMK II to release metaphase arrest by cytostatic factor,” Curr Biol: 15(16):1458-68. (This paper was featured in Nature. 2005 Oct 13;437(7061):963-5), Aug. 23, 2005


B.S., Virology and Molecular Biology, Wuhan University (China)

Ph.D., Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, University of Melbourne (Australia)


English, Mandarin

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