39166-Yang, Kai

Kai Yang, PhD

Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

R4 202
Indianapolis, IN
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Dr. Kai Yang joins the Wells Center from St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. While at St. Jude, he was a Staff Scientist in the Department of Immunology from 2014-2017 and was a Postdoctoral Fellow from 2009-2014.  Dr. Yang started with the Pediatric Pulmonary Inflammation, Asthma and Allergic Diseases Research Group on October 2, 2017. 

Key Publications

Blanco DB, Chapman NM, Raynor J, Xu C, Su W, Kc A, Lim SA, Schattgen S, Shi H, Risch I, Sun Y, Dhungana Y, Kim Y, Wei J, Rankin S, Neale G, Thomas P, Yang K* and Hongbo Chi* (* co-corresponding author). PTEN directs developmental and metabolic signaling for innate-like T cell fate and tissue homeostasis. Nat Cell Biol. 24: 1642-1654, 2022.

Yang K. Regulation of Treg cell metabolism and function in non-lymphoid tissues. Front Immunol. 13: 909705, 2022.

Li K, Wang A, Liu S, Fang S, Lu A, Shen J, Yang L, Hu C, Yang K* and Jun Wan* (* co-corresponding author). Advanced functions embedded in the second version of database, global evaluation of SARS-CoV-2/hCoV-19 sequences 2. Front Med. 9: 813964, 2022.

Fu Y, Pajulas A, Wang J, Zhou B, Cannon A, Cheung C, Zhang J, Zhou H, Fisher A, Omstead D, Kan S, Han L, Renauld J, Paczesy S, Gao H, Liu Y, Yang L, Tighe R, Licona-Limon P, Flavell R, Takatsuka S, Kitamura D, Sun J, Bilgicer B, Sers C, Yang K, and Kaplan MH. Mouse pulmonary interstitial macrophages mediate the pro-tumorigenic effects of IL-9. Nat Commun. 13: 3811, 2022.

Xu C, Qi R, Zhang S, Zhang C, and Yang K. Treg cells need Gpx4 to prevent lipid peroxidation and ferroptosis in control of Th17 responses and anti-tumor immunity. Cell Rep. 35: 109235, 2021.

Xu C, Fu Y, Lu X, Qi R, Du H, Yan C, Zhang C, Kaplan MK, and Yang K. BATF coordinates Treg functional specification and triacylglycerol metabolism to restrain allergic responses. J. Immunol. 206: 2088-2100, 2021.

Yang K* and Chi H* (* co-corresponding author). Autophagy modulates CD4+ T-cell lineage recommitment upon pathogen infection. Cell Mol Immunol., 17: 682-683 2020.

Wang J, Kaplan MH, Yang K. ResTORing barrier function in the skin. J Allergy Clin Immunol., 145: 111-113, 2020.

Yang K*, Blanco DB*, Chen X*, Dash P, Neale G, Rosencrance C, Easton J, Chen W, Dhungana Y, KC A, Awad W, Guo X, Thomas P and Chi H (* equal contribution). Metabolic signaling directs the reciprocal lineage decisions of αβ and gd T cells. Sci Immunol. 3: Pii: eaas9818, 2018. (Highlighted in F1000Prime).

Yang K and Chi H. Investigating cellular quiescence of T lymphocytes and antigen-induced exit from quiescence. Methods Mol Biol. 1686: 161-172, 2018.

Yang K
, Blanco DB, Neale G, Vogel P, Avila J, Clish CB, Wu C, Shrestha S, and Chi H. Homeostatic control of metabolic and functional fitness of Treg cells by LKB1 signaling. Nature 548: 602-606, 2017.

Tan H*, Yang K*, Li Y*, Shaw T*, Wang Y, Blanco DB, Wang X, Cho J, Wang H, Rankin S, Guy C, Peng J, and Chi H (* equal contribution). Integrative proteomics and phosphoproteomics profiling reveals dynamic signaling networks and bioenergetics pathways underlying T cell activation. Immunity 46: 488-503, 2017.

Wei J, Long L, Yang K, Guy C, Shrestha S, Chen Z, Wu C, Vogel P, Neale G, Green DR, and Chi H. Autophagy enforces functional integrity of regulatory T cells by coupling environmental cues and metabolic homeostasis. Nat Immunol. 17: 277-85, 2016.

Shrestha S*, Yang K*, Cliff G, Neale G, Vogel P, and Chi H. (* equal contribution). Treg cells require the phosphatase PTEN to restrain TH1 and TFH cell responses. Nat Immunol. 16: 178-87, 2015.

Shrestha S*, Yang K*, Wei J, Karmaus PW, Neale G, and Chi H (* equal contribution). Tsc1 promotes the differentiation of memory CD8+ T cells via orchestrating the transcriptional and metabolic programs. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 111: 14858-63, 2014.

Yang K and Chi H. Metabolic control of Th17 cell generation and CNS inflammation. J Neurol Neurophysiol. S12: 004, 2014.

Yang K, Shrestha S, Zeng H, Karmaus PW, Neale G, Vogel P, Guertin DA, Lamb RF, and Chi H. T cell exit from quiescence and differentiation into Th2 cells depend on Raptor-mTORC1-mediated metabolic reprogramming. Immunity 39: 1043-56, 2013.

Zeng H, Yang K, Cloer C, Neale G, Vogel P, and Chi H. mTORC1 couples immune signals and metabolic programming to establish Treg-cell function. Nature 499: 485-90, 2013.

Yang K and Chi H. mTOR and metabolic pathways in T cell quiescence and functional activation. Semin Immunol. 24: 421-8, 2012.

Yang K, Neale G, Green DR, He W, and Chi H. The tumor suppressor Tsc1 enforces quiescence of naive T cells to promote immune homeostasis and function. Nat Immunol. 12: 888-97, 2011.

Liu G*, Yang K*, Burns S, Shrestha S, Huang G, and Chi H. (* equal contribution). The S1P1-mTOR axis directs the reciprocal differentiation of TH1 and Treg cells. Nat Immunol. 11: 1047-56, 2010.

Shi HX*, Yang K*, Liu X, Liu XY, Wei B, Shan YF, Zhu LH, and Wang C. (* equal contribution). Positive regulation of interferon regulatory factor 3 activation by Herc5 via ISG15 modification. Mol Cell Biol. 30: 2424-36, 2010.

Yang K, Shi HX, Liu XY, Shan YF, Wei B, Chen S, and Wang C. TRIM21 is essential to sustain IRF3 activation during antiviral response. J Immunol. 182: 3782-92, 2009.

Yang K, Shi X, Qi R, Sun S, Tang Y, Zhang B, and Wang C. Hsp90 Regulates Activation of Interferon Regulatory Factor 3 and TBK-1 Stabilization in Sendai Virus-infected Cells. Mol Biol Cell. 17: 1461-71, 2006.

Titles & Appointments

  • Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
  • Assistant Professor of Microbiology & Immunology
  • Education
    2014 FEL Immunology Postdoctoral Fellow, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital
    2008 PhD Chinese Academy of Sciences
    2001 BS Southwest University
  • Research

    The Yang laboratory is interested in understanding fundamental mechanisms by which T cells coordinate immune signals and cellular metabolism in maintaining immune homeostasis and preventing allergic inflammation. Using mouse models with genetic interference of mTOR signaling and systems biology approaches, the lab aims to identify key molecular and metabolic components involved in the initiation and progression of allergic diseases. Dr. Yang’s lab also investigates the role of metabolic remodeling in regulating T-cell quiescence. The long-term goal is to apply these findings to develop novel strategies for the treatment of allergic diseases.  

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