Professional Education

  • Bachelor of Science, Yanshan University (2008)
  • Master, Shantou University, Biochemistry and molecular biology (2011)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Huazhong Agricultural University (2017)


All Publications

  • Longitudinal Morphological and Functional Assessment of RGC Neurodegeneration After Optic Nerve Crush in Mouse. Frontiers in cellular neuroscience Li, L., Huang, H., Fang, F., Liu, L., Sun, Y., Hu, Y. 2020; 14: 109


    The mouse optic nerve crush (ONC) model has been widely used to study optic neuropathies and central nervous system (CNS) axon injury and repair. Previous histological studies of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) somata in retina and axons in ON demonstrate significant neurodegeneration after ONC, but longitudinal morphological and functional assessment of RGCs in living animals is lacking. It is essential to establish these assays to provide more clinically relevant information for early detection and monitoring the progression of CNS neurodegeneration. Here, we present in vivo data gathered by scanning laser ophthalmoscopy (SLO), optical coherence tomography (OCT), and pattern electroretinogram (PERG) at different time points after ONC in mouse eyes and corresponding histological quantification of the RGC somata and axons. Not surprisingly, direct visualization of RGCs by SLO fundus imaging correlated best with histological quantification of RGC somata and axons. Unexpectedly, OCT did not detect obvious retinal thinning until late time points (14 and 28-days post ONC) and instead detected significant retinal swelling at early time points (1-5 days post-ONC), indicating a characteristic initial retinal response to ON injury. PERG also demonstrated an early RGC functional deficit in response to ONC, before significant RGC death, suggesting that it is highly sensitive to ONC. However, the limited progression of PERG deficits diminished its usefulness as a reliable indicator of RGC degeneration.

    View details for DOI 10.3389/fncel.2020.00109

    View details for PubMedID 32410964

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC7200994

  • Mouse gamma-Synuclein Promoter-Mediated Gene Expression and Editing in Mammalian Retinal Ganglion Cells. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience Wang, Q., Zhuang, P. S., Huang, H., Li, L., Liu, L., Webber, H. C., Dalal, R., Siew, L., Fligor, C. M., Chang, K. C., Nahmou, M., Kreymerman, A., Sun, Y., Meyer, J. S., Goldberg, J. L., Hu, Y. 2020


    Optic neuropathies are a group of optic nerve (ON) diseases caused by various insults including glaucoma, inflammation, ischemia, trauma and genetic deficits, which are characterized by retinal ganglion cell (RGC) death and ON degeneration. An increasing number of genes involved in RGC intrinsic signaling have been found to be promising neural repair targets that can potentially be modulated directly by gene therapy, if we can achieve RGC specific gene targeting. To address this challenge, we first used adeno associated virus (AAV)-mediated gene transfer to perform a low throughput in vivo screening in both male and female mouse eyes and identified the mouse γ-synuclein (mSncg) promoter, which specifically and potently sustained transgene expression in mouse RGCs and also works in human RGCs. We further demonstrated that gene therapy that combines AAV-mSncg promoter with CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing can knockdown pro-degenerative genes in RGCs and provide effective neuroprotection in optic neuropathies.Significance Statement:Here we present an RGC-specific promoter, mouse γ-synuclein (mSncg) promoter, and perform extensive characterization and proof-of-concept studies of mSncg promoter-mediated gene expression and CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in RGCs in vivo To our knowledge, this is the first report demonstrating in vivo neuroprotection of injured RGCs and optic nerve by AAV-mediated CRISPR/Cas9 inhibition of genes that are critical for neurodegeneration. It represents a powerful tool to achieve RGC-specific gene modulation, and also opens up a promising gene therapy strategy for optic neuropathies, the most common form of eye diseases that cause irreversible blindness.

    View details for DOI 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0102-20.2020

    View details for PubMedID 32300046

  • In Vivo Two-photon Calcium Imaging in Dendrites of Rabies Virus-labeled V1 Corticothalamic Neurons NEUROSCIENCE BULLETIN Tang, Y., Li, L., Sun, L., Yu, J., Hu, Z., Lian, K., Cao, G., Dai, J. 2019


    Monitoring neuronal activity in vivo is critical to understanding the physiological or pathological functions of the brain. Two-photon Ca2+ imaging in vivo using a cranial window and specific neuronal labeling enables real-time, in situ, and long-term imaging of the living brain. Here, we constructed a recombinant rabies virus containing the Ca2+ indicator GCaMP6s along with the fluorescent protein DsRed2 as a baseline reference to ensure GCaMP6s signal reliability. This functional tracer was applied to retrogradely label specific V1-thalamus circuits and detect spontaneous Ca2+ activity in the dendrites of V1 corticothalamic neurons by in vivo two-photon Ca2+ imaging. Notably, we were able to record single-spine spontaneous Ca2+ activity in specific circuits. Distinct spontaneous Ca2+ dynamics in dendrites of V1 corticothalamic neurons were found for different V1-thalamus circuits. Our method can be applied to monitor Ca2+ dynamics in specific input circuits in vivo, and contribute to functional studies of defined neural circuits and the dissection of functional circuit connections.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s12264-019-00452-y

    View details for Web of Science ID 000500858000002

    View details for PubMedID 31808041

  • A Reversible Silicon Oil-Induced Ocular Hypertension Model in Mice. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE Zhang, J., Fang, F., Li, L., Huang, H., Webber, H. C., Sun, Y., Mahajan, V. B., Hu, Y. 2019


    Elevated intraocular pressure (IOP) is a well-documented risk factor for glaucoma. Here we describe a novel, effective method for consistently inducing stable IOP elevation in mice that mimics the post-operative complication of using silicone oil (SO) as a tamponade agent in human vitreoretinal surgery. In this protocol, SO is injected into the anterior chamber of the mouse eye to block the pupil and prevent inflow of aqueous humor. The posterior chamber accumulates aqueous humor and this in turn increases the IOP of the posterior segment. A single SO injection produces reliable, sufficient, and stable IOP elevation, which induces significant glaucomatous neurodegeneration. This model is a true replicate of secondary glaucoma in the eye clinic. To further mimic the clinical setting, SO can be removed from the anterior chamber to reopen the drainage pathway and allow inflow of aqueous humor, which is drained through the trabecular meshwork (TM) at the angle of the anterior chamber. Because IOP quickly returns to normal, the model can be used to test the effect of lowering IOP on glaucomatous retinal ganglion cells. This method is straightforward, does not require special equipment or repeat procedures, closely simulates clinical situations, and may be applicable to diverse animal species. However, minor modifications may be required.

    View details for DOI 10.3791/60409

    View details for PubMedID 31789319

  • Stem cell-derived retinal ganglion cell differentiation and its transplantation Chang, K., Wu, S., Li, L., Sun, C., Xia, X., Knasel, C., Nahmou, M., Wernig, M., Goldberg, J. L. ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC. 2019
  • Neuroprotection of Retinal Ganglion Cells by AAV2-gamma-Synuclein Promoter-Mediated CRISPR/Cas9 Gene Editing Li, L., Wang, Q., Huang, H., Sun, Y., Goldberg, J. L., Hu, Y. ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC. 2019
  • Loss of optineurin C-terminus causes significant retinal ganglion cell degeneration Webber, H., Huang, H., Li, L., Zhang, J., Zhuang, P., Wang, Q., Hu, Y. ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC. 2019
  • A novel inducible and reversible mouse glaucoma model: Silicone Oil-Induced Ocular Hypertension Under-detected (SOHU) Zhang, J., Li, L., Huang, H., Webber, H., Li, S., Tang, P., Mahajan, V. B., Sun, Y., Zhang, M., Hu, Y. ASSOC RESEARCH VISION OPHTHALMOLOGY INC. 2019
  • Memantine can relieve the neuronal impairment caused by neurotropic virus infection JOURNAL OF MEDICAL VIROLOGY Sun, L., Zhou, M., Liu, C., Tang, Y., Xiao, K., Dai, J., Gao, Z., Siew, L., Cao, G., Wu, X., Li, L., Zhang, R. 2019; 91 (6): 935–40

    View details for DOI 10.1002/jmv.25396

    View details for Web of Science ID 000465087100005

  • Silicone oil-induced ocular hypertension and glaucomatous neurodegeneration in mouse ELIFE Zhang, J., Li, L., Huang, H., Fang, F., Webber, H. C., Zhuang, P., Liu, L., Dalal, R., Tang, P. H., Mahajan, V. B., Sun, Y., Li, S., Zhang, M., Goldberg, J. L., Hu, Y. 2019; 8
  • Silicone oil-induced ocular hypertension and glaucomatous neurodegeneration in mouse. eLife Zhang, J., Li, L., Huang, H., Fang, F., Webber, H. C., Zhuang, P., Liu, L., Dalal, R., Tang, P. H., Mahajan, V. B., Sun, Y., Li, S., Zhang, M., Goldberg, J. L., Hu, Y. 2019; 8


    Understanding the molecular mechanism of glaucoma and development of neuroprotectants are significantly hindered by the lack of a reliable animal model that accurately recapitulates human glaucoma. Here we sought to develop a mouse model for the secondary glaucoma that is often observed in humans after silicone oil (SO) blocks the pupil or migrates into the anterior chamber following vitreoretinal surgery. We observed significant intraocular pressure (IOP) elevation after intracameral injection of SO, and that SO removal allows IOP to return quickly to normal. This simple, inducible and reversible mouse ocular hypertension model shows dynamic changes of visual function that correlate with progressive RGC loss and axon degeneration. It may be applicable with only minor modifications to a range of animal species in which it will generate stable, robust IOP elevation and significant neurodegeneration that will facilitate selection of neuroprotectants and investigating the pathogenesis of ocular hypertension-induced glaucoma.

    View details for PubMedID 31090540

  • Memantine can relieve the neuronal impairment caused by neurotropic virus infection. Journal of medical virology Sun, L., Zhou, M., Liu, C., Tang, Y., Xiao, K., Dai, J., Gao, Z., Siew, L., Cao, G., Wu, X., Li, L., Zhang, R. 2019


    Neurotropic viruses, such as the rabies virus (RABV) and Japanese encephalitis virus (JEV), induce neuronal dysfunction and complication, causing neuronal damage. Currently, there are still no effective clinical treatments for neuronal injury caused by neurotropic viruses. Memantine, a drug capable of passing through the blood-brain barrier, non-competitively and reversibly binds to N-methyl-D-aspartic acid receptors (NMDA receptors). Memantine is used to treat Alzheimer's disease by blocking the activation of extra axonal ion channels, thus preventing neuronal degeneration by inhibiting the abnormal cytosolic Ca2+ increase. To explore whether memantine can alleviate neurological disturbances caused by RABV and JEV, the following experiments were carried out: (1) For primary neurons cultured in vitro infected with RABV, the addition of memantine showed neuroprotection. (2) In the RABV challenge experiments, memantine had limited therapeutic effect, mildly extending the survival time of mice. In contrast, memantine significantly prolonged the survival time of mice infected with JEV, by reducing the intravascular cuff and inflammatory cell infiltration in mice. Furthermore, memantine decreases the amount of JEV virus in mice brain. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

    View details for PubMedID 30624794

  • The anatomy and metabolome of the lymphatic system in the brain in health and disease. Brain pathology (Zurich, Switzerland) He, W., Jing, Y., Wan, Q., Xiao, K., Chen, K., Lu, Y., Li, L., Tang, Y., Deng, Y., Yao, Z., Yue, J., Cao, G. 2019


    Recent studies have demonstrated that the brain is equipped with a lymphatic drainage system that is actively involved in parenchymal waste clearance, brain homeostasis and immune regulation. However, the exact anatomic drainage routes of brain lymph fluid (BLF) remain elusive, hampering the physiological study and clinical application of this system. In this study, we systematically dissected the anatomy of the BLF pathways in a rat model. Moreover, we developed a protocol to collect BLF from the afferent lymphatic vessels of deep cervical lymph nodes (dcLNs) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from the fourth ventricle. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy showed that BLF contains more metabolites than CSF, suggesting that BLF might be a more sensitive indicator of brain dynamics under physiological and pathological conditions. Finally, we identified several metabolites as potential diagnostic biomarkers for glioma, Parkinson's disease and CNS infectious diseases. Together, these data may provide insight into the physiology of the lymphatic system in the brain and into the clinical diagnosis of CNS disorders.

    View details for DOI 10.1111/bpa.12805

    View details for PubMedID 31747475

  • Digestion-ligation-only Hi-C is an efficient and cost-effective method for chromosome conformation capture NATURE GENETICS Lin, D., Hong, P., Zhang, S., Xu, W., Jamal, M., Yan, K., Lei, Y., Li, L., Ruan, Y., Fu, Z. F., Li, G., Cao, G. 2018; 50 (5): 754-+


    Chromosome conformation capture (3C) technologies can be used to investigate 3D genomic structures. However, high background noise, high costs, and a lack of straightforward noise evaluation in current methods impede the advancement of 3D genomic research. Here we developed a simple digestion-ligation-only Hi-C (DLO Hi-C) technology to explore the 3D landscape of the genome. This method requires only two rounds of digestion and ligation, without the need for biotin labeling and pulldown. Non-ligated DNA was efficiently removed in a cost-effective step by purifying specific linker-ligated DNA fragments. Notably, random ligation could be quickly evaluated in an early quality-control step before sequencing. Moreover, an in situ version of DLO Hi-C using a four-cutter restriction enzyme has been developed. We applied DLO Hi-C to delineate the genomic architecture of THP-1 and K562 cells and uncovered chromosomal translocations. This technology may facilitate investigation of genomic organization, gene regulation, and (meta)genome assembly.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/s41588-018-0111-2

    View details for Web of Science ID 000431394900019

    View details for PubMedID 29700467

  • In vivo fiber photometry of neural activity in response to optogenetically manipulated inputs in freely moving mice JOURNAL OF INNOVATIVE OPTICAL HEALTH SCIENCES Li, L., Tang, Y., Sun, L., Rahman, K., Huang, K., Xu, W., Yu, J., Dai, J., Cao, G. 2017; 10 (5)
  • Rabies viruses leader RNA interacts with host Hsc70 and inhibits virus replication ONCOTARGET Zhang, R., Liu, C., Cao, Y., Jamal, M., Chen, X., Zheng, J., Li, L., You, J., Zhu, Q., Liu, S., Dai, J., Cui, M., Fu, Z. F., Cao, G. 2017; 8 (27): 43822–37


    Viruses have been shown to be equipped with regulatory RNAs to evade host defense system. It has long been known that rabies virus (RABV) transcribes a small regulatory RNA, leader RNA (leRNA), which mediates the transition from viral RNA transcription to replication. However, the detailed molecular mechanism remains enigmatic. In the present study, we determined the genetic architecture of RABV leRNA and demonstrated its inhibitory effect on replication of wild-type rabies, DRV-AH08. The RNA immunoprecipitation results suggest that leRNA inhibits RABV replication via interfering the binding of RABV nucleoprotein with genomic RNA. Furthermore, we identified heat shock cognate 70 kDa protein (Hsc70) as a leRNA host cellular interacting protein, of which the expression level was dynamically regulated by RABV infection. Notably, our data suggest that Hsc70 was involved in suppressing RABV replication by leader RNA. Finally, our experiments imply that leRNA might be potentially useful as a novel drug in rabies post-exposure prophylaxis. Together, this study suggested leRNA in concert with its host interacting protein Hsc70, dynamically down-regulate RABV replication.

    View details for DOI 10.18632/oncotarget.16517

    View details for Web of Science ID 000405498000019

    View details for PubMedID 28388579

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5546443

  • Induction of HepG2 cell apoptosis by Irgarol 1051 through mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stresses TOXICOLOGY IN VITRO Wang, L., Liang, B., Li, L., Liu, W. 2013; 27 (6): 1771–79


    In this study, HepG2 cells were exposed to 0.04-40 mg/L Irgarol 1051. Results show that Irgarol 1051 can damage cell morphology and cause a significant decrease in cell viability. Positive staining by Annexin V, caspase-3 activity enhancement, and the damage in cell ultrastructure indicated an apoptotic mode of cell death for 4.0mg/L Irgarol 1051 treatment. At the same time, caspase-9 was also significantly induced by 0.4 and 4.0mg/L Irgarol 1051 at 72 h, which suggests that the intrinsic mitochondria pathway was involved in the apoptosis. The mitochondrial membrane potential decreased significantly after the HepG2 cells were exposed to Irgarol 1051 for 6 and 72 h. Especially, the translocation of cytochrome c from mitochondria to cytosol was recorded, supporting the idea that the mitochondrial pathway was involved in the apoptosis signal pathways induced by Irgarol 1051. The significantly increased levels of intracellular reactive oxygen species (ROS) and an immediate ROS burst were also recorded. The results here may imply that Irgarol 1051 induces HepG2 cell apoptosis through mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stresses. Although it is possible that this chemical has no detrimental effects on human health at the environmentally relevant concentration, it may cause problems to top coastal predators due to bio-accumulation through the food chain.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.tiv.2013.05.006

    View details for Web of Science ID 000324847800021

    View details for PubMedID 23722069

  • Enhanced proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells grown on PHA films coated with recombinant fusion proteins ACTA BIOMATERIALIA Xie, H., Li, J., Li, L., Dong, Y., Chen, G., Chen, K. C. 2013; 9 (8): 7845–54


    Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) belong to a family of copolyesters with demonstrated biocompatibility. We hypothesize that genetically fusing evolutionarily preserved cell binding motifs, such as RGD or IKVAV, to the PHA-binding protein phasin (PhaP) for surface functionalization of PHA materials could better support the growth and differentiation of neural stem cells (NSCs). This hypothesis is tested on three polyester materials of the same aliphatic family: poly(L-lactic acid) (PLA) and two PHB copolymers, poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyhexanoate) and poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate-co-3-hydroxyhexanoate) (PHBVHHx). Experimental results indicate that surface coating of the two fusion proteins, PhaP-RGD and PhaP-IKVAV, provides short-term advantages in promoting the adhesion, proliferation and neural differentiation of rat NSCs compared to the PhaP-coated or uncoated material. Among the tested samples, the combination of coating PhaP-IKVAV on an PHBVHHx surface yields the highest levels in cell adhesion and proliferation, while the PLA film coated with PhaP-IKVAV promotes better neural differentiation and neurite outgrowth in the early stage. Because both PhaP-RGD and PhaP-IKVAV could be produced in an inexpensive manner, our data suggest that PhaP-IKVAV is an ideal nonspecific coating agent to functionalize hydrophobic biomaterials in the application of neural tissue engineering.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.actbio.2013.04.038

    View details for Web of Science ID 000322207700025

    View details for PubMedID 23639778

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