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Dong Lab

Welcome to the Charlie Dong Lab in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Indiana University School of Medicine! The Dong Lab is doing cutting-edge research on alcoholic and nonalcoholic fatty liver diseases, fibrosis, diabetes, obesity, aging, and cancer. State-of-the-art molecular biology technologies are deployed to investigate key transcription factors like FOXOs, epigenetic regulators like sirtuins, autophagy regulators like ATG14, cell signaling regulators like sestrins, lipid metabolism enzymes like PNPLA3, and other emerging therapeutic targets.

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The Dong Lab is investigating the physiological and pathological aging processes at cell, organ, and system levels. As Foxo transcription factors and Sirt6 are longevity-promoting factors, it is of importance to understand their biological functions. Both cell and animal models are used for this line of research.


The Dong Lab is also actively investigating oncogenes and tumor suppressors and their roles in the process of cell transformation and tumorigenesis. As the incidents of liver cancer is on the rise, the current focus of cancer research in the Dong Lab is to understand how the liver cancer is initiated and how the cancer can be prevented.

flow chart shows how sesn3 functions as a tumor suppressor in the liver

Diabetes and Obesity

Owing to overnutrition and sedentary lifestyle in the current society, the prevalence of diabetes and obesity is steadily increasing. This laboratory is investigating molecular mechanisms that control the normal physiology and pathophysiology in diet-induced and genetic defect-induced diabetes and obesity. Both cell and animal models are used to illustrate the underlying mechanisms.

Alcoholic and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Both ethanol consumption and overnutrition can cause excessive triglyceride accumulation in the liver, commonly called hepatic steatosis or fatty liver. The fatty liver disease can progress to more serious liver problems including hepatitis, fibrosis, cirrhosis, and even hepatocellular carcinoma. The Dong Lab is investigating the whole spectrum of the fatty liver disease and aiming to understand the mechanism of pathogenesis. Both in vitro and in vivo models will be used for this line of research.

Current Research Funding

R01DK120689 Dong (PI) $1,742,857 06/01/2020-03/31/2024
Role of ATG14 in the regulation of hepatic function
Role: PI

R01DK121925 Dong (PI) $1,828,228 07/01/2020-06/30/2024
Epigenetic regulation in liver fibrosis
Role: PI

R01DK124612 Liu W (PI) 07/01/2021-04/30/2025
A precision targeted therapeutics for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
Subaward: $138,196
Role: Co-I

R21AG072288 Dong (PI) $435,875 06/15/2022-02/29/2024
Role of SIRT6 in the pancreatic beta cell aging
Role: PI

R01AA028506 Dong (PI) $2,243,109 05/01-2022-03/31/2027
The pathophysiological function of PNPLA3-148M variant in alcohol-induced liver injury
Role: PI

R01HL153173 L Yang (PI) 08/01/2022-03/31/2027
Deciphering a novel lncRNA-mediated lipid droplet transport system in human heart
Role: Co-I

Recent Publications

Huang M, Kim HG, Zhong X, Dong C, Zhang B, Fang Z, Zhang Y, Lu X, Saxena R, Liu Y, Zhang C, Liangpunsakul S, Dong XC. Sesn3 protects against diet-induced nonalcoholic steatohepatitis in mice via suppression of the TGFb signal transduction. Hepatology. 2020 Jan;71(1):76-92. Selected for the issue cover.

Zhong X, Huang M, Kim HG, Zhang Y, Chowdhury K, Cai W, Saxena R, Schwabe RF, Liangpunsakul S, Dong XC. SIRT6 Protects Against Liver Fibrosis by Deacetylation and Suppression of SMAD3 in Hepatic Stellate Cells. Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2020 Apr 17:S2352-345X(20)30049-7.

Fang Z, Kim HG, Huang M, Chowdhury K, Li MO, Liangpunsakul S, Dong XC. Sestrin proteins protect against lipotoxicity-induced oxidative stress in the liver via suppression of C-Jun N-terminal kinases. Cell Mol Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2021 May 4:S2352-345X(21)00086-2. Selected for the issue cover.

Zhu C, Huang M, Kim HG, Chowdhury K, Gao J, Liu S, Wan J, Wei L, Dong XC. SIRT6 controls hepatic lipogenesis by suppressing LXR, ChREBP, and SREBP1. Biochem Biophys Acta Mol Basis Dis. 2021 Aug 21;1867(12):166249.

Chowdhury K, Huang M, Kim HG, Dong XC. Sirtuin 6 protects against hepatic fibrogenesis by suppressing the YAP and TAZ function. FASEB J. 2022 Oct;36(10):e22529. Selected for the issue cover.

View a full list of publications

Faculty Research Team

19563-Dong, X

X. Charlie Dong, PhD

Principal Investigator
Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Read Bio X. Charlie Dong, PhD

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Kushan Chowdhury, PhD

Graduate Student

26967-Huang, Menghao

Menghao Huang, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

Read Bio Menghao Huang, PhD

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Hyeong-Geug Kim, PhD

Research Assistant Professor

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Jiazhi Jessi Xu, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow

Read Bio Jiazhi Jessi Xu, PhD