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Xuedong Liu, PhD



Cancer Cell Biology and Biochemistry


University of Colorado-Boulder

Contact: (303) 735-6161;


2 years of college

Number of Openings: 2


My laboratory is interested in understanding the role of transforming growth factor-ß (TGF-ß) signaling in normal and cancer cells.

TGF-ß is a multi-functional cytokine responsible for regulating growth and differentiation of a wide variety of cell types and tissues. It is a potent inhibitor of normal epithelial cell proliferation and possesses tumor suppressing activity. The majority of human tumors are of epithelial origin and their proliferation is no longer inhibited by TGF-ß. Although several key downstream targets that transduce the TGF-ß signals from the cell surface to the nucleus have been identified, it remains to be determined how TGF-ß can mediate myriad cellular responses and regulate so many important physiological processes. To address how TGF-ß signaling could mediate such diverse effects, we use the two following approaches: 1) Find as yet unidentified molecules that may mediate diverse functions, and 2) understand how the TGF-ß network behaves as a system, which may identify how known network components interact to produce unexpected emergent behavior. A second research area in the lab focuses on understanding mechanisms of ubiquitin mediated protein degradation of tumor suppressor p27Kip1.

Decreased levels of cell cycle inhibitor p27Kip1 due to excessive degradation occur in a variety of aggressive human tumors and are associated with a poor prognosis in many human cancers. We are employing a chemical biology approach to identify small molecule inhibitors to perturb excessive degradation of p27Kip1and evaluating whether inhibition of p27 degradation would be an effective anti-cancer therapy approach


Students will have a chance to work graduate students and postdoctoral associates in the lab on dissecting the signal transduction pathway using molecular biology and cell biology techniques. Students will perform high throughput screen to identify small molecules that may perturb TGF-ß signaling or p27Kip1 degradation in cancer cells.