Yunhua Liu

Yunhua Liu, PhD

Assistant Research Professor of Medical & Molecular Genetics


I started my research career as a graduate student at the Institut Pasteur of Shanghai, Chinese Academy of Sciences. During my graduate study, I successfully completed several projects to identify the novel molecular mechanisms of tumorigenesis of Kaposi’s sarcoma herpesvirus (KSHV). My graduate research resulted in several publications in major research journals and the scientific results provide novel insights to the research field of viral oncology (Virology 380 (2), 264-275; J Virol. 84 (4), 2047-2062; J Virol 86 (3), 1372-1381). After graduation, I joined the University of Texas, M.D. Anderson Cancer Center for postdoctoral training. During the first few years, I have been studying the roles of non-coding RNAs in homeostasis, the DNA damage response and tumorigenesis (Cell Signal 25(5):1086-95, 2013; Cell Rep 3(6):2100-12, 2013; EMBO J 32(21):2833-47, 2013; Cell Rep 8 (5), 1447-60, 2014). Recently, I have been working on the identification and development of therapeutic strategies for human cancers with hemizygous loss of TP53, which is frequently inactivated by mutation or deletion in a majority of human tumors. A tremendous effort has been made to restore p53 activity in cancer therapies. However, no effective p53-based therapy has been successfully translated into clinical cancer treatment due to the complexity of p53 signaling. Our recent studies demonstrated that concomitant deletion of POLR2A with TP53 creates a therapeutic vulnerability and targeting POLR2A provides an effective treatment strategy (Nature 520 (7549), 697-701, 2015). I anticipate that inhibiting POLR2A will be a novel therapeutic approach for all human cancers harboring such common genomic alterations (BioEssays. 2015;37(12):1277-86; Future Oncol. 2015;11(23):3101-4.). There is already a discussion regarding the potential for initiation of a clinical trial based on my work. This study was also highlighted and commented in several prestigious journals, including Nat. Rev. Cancer, Nat. Rev. Clin. Oncol., and Cancer Discov.  In addition, my study was also featured and commented in “Cancer Currents Blog”, a National Cancer Institute (NCI)-based Cancer Research Blog

Key Publications

1.      Han, C., Yang, L., Choi, H.H., Baddour, J., Achreja, A., Liu, Y., Li, Y., Li, J., Wan, G., Huang, C., et al. (2016). Amplification of USP13 drives ovarian cancer metabolism. Nat Commun 7, 13525.

2.      Liu, Y., Li, Y., and Lu, X. (2016). Regulators in the DNA damage response. Arch Biochem Biophys 594, 18-25.

3.      Liu Y, Zhang X, Han C, Wan G, Huang X, Ivan C, Jiang D, Rodriguez-Aguayo C, Lopez-Berestein G, Rao PH. TP53 loss creates therapeutic vulnerability in colorectal cancer. Nature. 2015;520(7549):697-701.

4.      Liu Y, Wang L, Lu X. A new way to target p53-defective colorectal cancer. Future Oncology. 2015;11(23):3101-4.

5.      Liu Y, Hu X, Han C, Wang L, Zhang X, He X, Lu X. Targeting tumor suppressor genes for cancer therapy. BioEssays. 2015;37(12):1277-86.

6.      Wan G, Liu Y, Han C, Zhang X, Lu X. Noncoding RNAs in DNA repair and genome integrity. Antioxidants & redox signaling. 2014;20(4):655-77.

7.      Han C, Liu Y, Wan G, Choi HJ, Zhao L, Ivan C, He X, Sood AK, Zhang X, Lu X. The RNA-binding protein DDX1 promotes primary microRNA maturation and inhibits ovarian tumor progression. Cell reports. 2014;8(5):1447-60.

8.      Wan G, Zhang X, Langley RR, Liu Y, Hu X, Han C, Peng G, Ellis LM, Jones SN, Lu X. DNA-damage-induced nuclear export of precursor microRNAs is regulated by the ATM-AKT pathway. Cell reports. 2013;3(6):2100-12.

9.      Wan G, Mathur R, Hu X, Liu Y, Zhang X, Peng G, Lu X. Long non-coding RNA ANRIL (CDKN2B-AS) is induced by the ATM-E2F1 signaling pathway. Cellular signalling. 2013;25(5):1086-95.

10.    Wan G, Hu X, Liu Y, Han C, Sood AK, Calin GA, Zhang X, Lu X. A novel non-coding RNA lncRNA-JADE connects DNA damage signalling to histone H4 acetylation. The EMBO journal. 2013;32(21):2833-47.

11.    Liu Y, Sun R, Lin X, Liang D, Deng Q, Lan K. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus-encoded microRNA miR-K12-11 attenuates transforming growth factor beta signaling through suppression of SMAD5. Journal of virology. 2012;86(3):1372-81.

12.    Liu Y, Lu X. Non-coding RNAs in DNA damage response. Am J Cancer Res. 2012;2(6):658-75.

13.    He Z, Liu Y, Liang D, Wang Z, Robertson ES, Lan K. Cellular corepressor TLE2 inhibits replication-and-transcription-activator-mediated transactivation and lytic reactivation of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus. Journal of virology. 2010;84(4):2047-62.

14.    Liu Y, Cao Y, Liang D, Gao Y, Xia T, Robertson ES, Lan K. Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus RTA activates the processivity factor ORF59 through interaction with RBP-Jκ and a cis-acting RTA responsive element. Virology. 2008;380(2):264-75.





980 W Walnuts St R3-C260
Indianapolis, IN 46202


Titles & Appointments

  • Assistant Research Professor