Department of Microbiology and Immunology
Microbiology and Immunology
2000-2006 Postdoctoral Fellow, Center for Immunotherapy of Cancer and Infectious Diseases, University of Connecticut Health Center
2006-2010 Research Associate, Department of Immunology, Neag Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Connecticut Health Center
1986 M.D. Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, P.R.China
1999 M.S. Beijing Medical University, Beijing, P.R.China
2009 M.P.H. University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT
My research interests are in the areas of cancer immunotherapy, stem cell-based cancer vaccine and innate immunity. The main focus of my research is to develop a universal stem cell-based cancer vaccine. The premise is that cancer cells share the expression of molecules (know as “oncofetal antigens”) with embryonic materials and that the immune response against these molecules in the embryonic tissues is cross-protective against cancer. We discovered that vaccination with established hES cell lines generated consistent immunological and clinical activity against a murine colon cancer. The hES cell-based vaccine is a promising modality for immunotherapy of cancer. The goal of my studies is to test if stem cell vaccine is effective against other types of cancer such as leukemia and breast cancer. We will discover the molecules that are present in both stem cells and cancer cells that can be the targets of the immune system and further dissect the detailed molecular interaction between stem cells and the host immune system.
I am also interested in the function of dendritic cells. Dendritic cells (DCs) are professional antigen-presenting cells (APCs) which play a critical role in both innate and adaptive immune response. DCs are especially effective in cross-presenting antigens to MHC molecules and play essential roles in both the priming and sustaining of adaptive T cell response. Heat shock protein gp96 is the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) resident member of the HSP90 family. Gp96 is a ubiquitous peptide binding protein and a protein chaperone. Recent genetic data demonstrate that gp96 is a master chaperone for TLRs and integrins. We have generated a novel mouse model that is specifically devoid of gp96 expression in dendritic cells but not in other cell types. By using this mouse model, the goal of this study is to understand the roles of gp96 and TLR in DC development and homeostasis, antigen cross-presentation, as well as in tumor surveillance against both spontaneous and inflammation-induced cancer.
Recent Publications | Additional Publications
Bei Liu, Yi Yang, Zhijuan Qiu, Matthew Staron, Feng Hong, Yi Li, Shuang Wu, Yunfeng Li, Bing Hao, Robert Bona, David Han and Zihai Li. (2010) Folding of Toll-Like receptors by the HSP90 paralogue gp96 requires a substrate-specific cochaperone. Nature Communications Sep; 1(6):doi:10.1038/ncomms1070.
Bei Liu, Nash J, Runowicz C, Swede H, Stevens R and Li Z. (2010) Ovarian Cancer Immunotherapy: Opportunities, Progresses and Challenges. J. Hemato Oncol. 3:7.
Jeremy P. McAleer, Bei Liu, Zihai Li, Soo-Mun Ngoi, Jie Dai, Martin Oft, and Anthony T. Vella (2010) Potent intestinal Th17 priming through peripheral lipopolysaccharide-based immunization. J Leukoc Biol 88(1):21-31.
Matthew Staron, Yi Yang, Bei Liu, Janet Li, Yuankai Shen, Juan Carlos Zuniga-Pflucker, Hector L. Aguila, Irving Goldschneider, and Zihai Li. (2010) gp96, an endoplasmic reticulum master chaperone for integrins and Toll-like receptors, selectively regulates early T and B lymphopoiesis. Blood 115(12):2380-2390.
Yi Li, Hui.Zeng, Ren-He.Xu, Bei Liu, Zihai Li. (2009) Vaccination with Human Pluripotent Stem Cells Generates A Broad Spectrum of Immunological And Clinical Response Against Colon Cancer. Stem Cells 27:3103-3111.
Dai J, Liu B, Li Z. (2009) Regulatory T cells and Toll-like receptors: what is the missing link? Int Immunopharmacol 9(5):528-533.
Liu B and Li Z (2008) Heat shock protein HSP90b1 (grp94, gp96) optimizes B cell function via chaperoning integrins and Toll-like receptors but not immunoglobulins. Blood 112(4):1223-1230.
Qiao Y, Liu B and Li Z (2008) Activation of human NK cells by HSP70 by the induction of NKG2D ligand on dendritic cells. Cancer Immunity 8:12.
Wang Z, Liu B, Wang P, Dong X, Fernandez-Hernando C, Li Z, Hla T, Li Z, Claffey K, Smith JD, Wu D (2008) Phospholipase C beta3 deficiency leads to macrophage hypersensitivity to apoptotic induction and reduction of atherosclerosis in mice. J Clin Invest 118(1):195-204.
Title: “Stem Cell Vaccine Against Cancer”
Agency: South Carolina Clinical & Translational Research Institute, Medical University of South Carolina’s CTSA NIH/NCRR (KL2 RR029880)
Funding Period: 10/15/2010-3/15/2013