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Hua Huang, MD, PhD

​Professor of Immunology & Microbiology

1400 Jackson St., K511
Denver, CO 80206
Phone: 303-398-1281

​One of the important questions in immunology is how immune effector cells acquire the ability to express a set of genes whose products confer them with the specialized immune functions. Our lab studies the signaling and transcriptional regulation of the expression of genes important in the normal and diseased immune system. We investigate how master transcription factors regulate the set of genes during differentiation of progenitors/precursors into immune effector cells and how immune genes in the differentiated effector cells detect signal inputs triggered by extracellular immunological stimuli and convert them into transcriptional outputs.

As illustrated in Figure 1, master transcription factors GATA2 and MITF act as pioneering factors to “Open Up” chromatin of their targeted transcription factor genes, such as mast cell-specific transcription factors MITF, MCTF1 and MCTF2, then act together with MITF, MCTF1 and MCTF2 along with common transcription factors, such as SP1 and AP1, to regulate their target genes whose products carry out immune functions in a feed-forward manner. 

Figure 2 shows how immune effector cells detect external stimuli in the normal and diseased conditions and convert them into transcriptional outputs. Transcription factors become activated after external stimulation.  These transcription factors bind to promoters and enhancers to form a transcription complex via a looping mechanism (Figure 2). We combine genomic approaches, including histone ChIP-seq, ATAC-seq, transcription factor ChIP-seq and RNA-seq, and with experimental approaches to study how individual enhancers and their associated transcription factors regulate immune gene expression. We determine the function of enhancers and their associated transcription factors in primary cells, cell line and mice using the CRISPR-mediated transcription factor binding site editing or transcription repression.  We study effector cells including helper T cells, innate lymphoid cells, basophils and mast cells to determine how they function in the diseased immune conditions, such as food allergy and asthma, parasitic infection and autoimmune disease. Because some individuals are more susceptible to develop certain diseases and develop more severe forms of the diseases, we are also interested in studying how regulatory variants found in the promoters and enhancers contribute to disease susceptibility and severity. 
​Hua Huang, M.D., Ph.D., earned his medical degree (equivalent to M.D.) from Sun Yat-Sen University School of Medicine, Guangzhou, P.R. China in 1984 and his doctoral degree from the University of Wisconsin- Madison in 1993. He completed postdoctoral research training at Princeton University and the NIH.
  1. ​Li, Y., Liu, B., Harmacek, L., Long, Z., Liang, J., Lukin, K., Leach, S., O’Connor, B., Gerber, A. N., Hagman, J., Roers, A. Fred D. Finkelman, F.D., and Huang, H. The transcription factors GATA2 and MITF regulate IgE/mast cell-mediated anaphylaxis by regulating Hdc gene expression in mast cells Hdc gene expression in mast cells and are required for IgE/mast cell-mediated anaphylaxis. J Allergy Clin Immunol, published online Dec 22, 2017, 10.1016/j.jaci.2017.10.043.
  2. H. Huang, Y. Li, J. Y. Liang, F. D. Finkelman. Molecular Regulation of Histamine Synthesis. Preprint, arXiv,, Frontiers in Immunology, 2018.
  3. Li Y, Qi X, Liu B, and Huang H.  The STAT5-GATA2 Pathway Is Critical in Basophil and Mast Cell Differentiation and Maintenance. J Immunol. 2015, 194: 4328-38. (Also see Editorial in “In This Issue”)
  4. Xiaopeng Qi, Lee Chaves, Yonghua Zhuang, Yuhong Chen, Demin Wang, Jacob Chahon, Brian Graham, Keitaro Ohmori, and Hua Huang.  Antagonistic regulation by transcription factors C/EBPα and MITF specifies basophil and mast cell fates.  Immunity, 2013, 39, 97-110.
  5. Zhihong Chen, Shanze Wang, Nkiruka Erekosima, Jessie Hong, Xiaopeng Qi, Yapeng Li, Patricia Merkel, Vijaya Nagabhushanam, Eugene Choo, Rohit Katial, Rafeul Alam, Hong Wei Chu, Yonghua Zhuang, Meiling Jin, Chunxue Bai, and Hua Huang. IL-4 confers resistance to IL-27-mediated suppression on CD4+ T cells by impairing Signal Transducer Activator of Transcription 1 signaling. J Allergy Clin Immunol, 2013;132:912-21. (Also see Editor’s Choice of the same issue.)
  6. Keitaro Ohmori, Yuchun Luo, Yi Jia, Jun Nishida, Zhengqi Wang, Kevin D. Bunting, Demin Wang, and Hua Huang.  IL-3 Induces Basophil Expansion In Vivo by Directing Granulocyte-Monocyte Progenitors to Differentiate into Basophil Lineage-Restricted Progenitors in the Bone Marrow and by Increasing the Number of Basophil/Mast Cell Progenitors in the Spleen.  J Immunol 2009, 182: 2835-2841.
  7. Zhang Y, Apilado R, Coleman J, Ben-Sasson SZ, Tsang S, Hu-Li J, Paul WE and Huang H. Inteferon gamma stabilizes the T helper cell type 1 phenotype. J Exp Med 2001,194(2):165-172.

A complete list of my publications can be found in My NCBI URL: or in ORCID