Honors & Awards

  • National Pancreas Foundation Award, American pancreatic Association (2013)
  • Travel Award, Stanford Immunology Program (2012)
  • Young investigator Award, American pancreatic Association (2012)
  • Outstanding Young Scientists, Shanghai Institute for Biological Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2008-2010)
  • Excellent Student, Chinese Academy of Sciences (2008-2009)
  • Excellent Graduate, Ocean University of China (2003)
  • Excellent Student, Ocean University of China (1999-2003)

Professional Education

  • B.S., School of Life Science, Ocean University of China, BioScience (2003)
  • Doctor of Philosophy, Chinese Academy Of Sciences (2010)

Stanford Advisors


All Publications

  • Alternatively activated macrophages promote pancreatic fibrosis in chronic pancreatitis NATURE COMMUNICATIONS Xue, J., Sharma, V., Hsieh, M. H., Chawla, A., Murali, R., Pandol, S. J., Habtezion, A. 2015; 6


    Chronic pancreatitis (CP) is a progressive and irreversible inflammatory and fibrotic disease with no cure. Unlike acute pancreatitis (AP), we find that alternatively activated macrophages (AAMs) are dominant in mouse and human CP. AAMs are dependent on interleukin (IL)-4 and IL-13 signalling, and we show that mice lacking IL-4Rα, myeloid-specific IL-4Rα and IL-4/IL-13 were less susceptible to pancreatic fibrosis. Furthermore, we demonstrate that mouse and human pancreatic stellate cells (PSCs) are a source of IL-4/IL-13. Notably, we show that pharmacologic inhibition of IL-4/IL-13 in human ex vivo studies as well as in established mouse CP decreases pancreatic AAMs and fibrosis. We identify a critical role for macrophages in pancreatic fibrosis and in turn PSCs as important inducers of macrophage-alternative activation. Our study challenges and identifies pathways involved in crosstalk between macrophages and PSCs that can be targeted to reverse or halt pancreatic fibrosis progression.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms8158

    View details for Web of Science ID 000355534000005

    View details for PubMedID 25981357

  • Protective role of hemeoxygenase-1 in gastrointestinal diseases. Cellular and molecular life sciences Chang, M., Xue, J., Sharma, V., Habtezion, A. 2015; 72 (6): 1161-1173


    Disorders and diseases of the gastrointestinal system encompass a wide array of pathogenic mechanisms as a result of genetic, infectious, neoplastic, and inflammatory conditions. Inflammatory diseases in general are rising in incidence and are emerging clinical problems in gastroenterology and hepatology. Hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) is a stress-inducible enzyme that has been shown to confer protection in various organ-system models. Its downstream effectors, carbon monoxide and biliverdin have also been shown to offer these beneficial effects. Many studies suggest that induction of HO-1 expression in gastrointestinal tissues and cells plays a critical role in cytoprotection and resolving inflammation as well as tissue injury. In this review, we examine the protective role of HO-1 and its downstream effectors in modulating inflammatory diseases of the upper (esophagus and stomach) and lower (small and large intestine) gastrointestinal tract, the liver, and the pancreas. Cytoprotective, anti-inflammatory, anti-proliferative, antioxidant, and anti-apoptotic activities of HO-1 make it a promising if not ideal therapeutic target for inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal system.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s00018-014-1790-1

    View details for PubMedID 25428780

  • Immune cells and immune-based therapy in pancreatitis IMMUNOLOGIC RESEARCH Xue, J., Sharma, V., Habtezion, A. 2014; 58 (2-3): 378-386


    Alcohol and gallstones are the most common etiologic factors in acute pancreatitis (AP). Recurrent AP can lead to chronic pancreatitis (CP). Although the underlying pathophysiology of the disease is complex, immune cells are critical in the pathogenesis of pancreatitis and determining disease severity. In this review, we discuss the role of innate and adaptive immune cells in both AP and CP, potential immune-based therapeutic targets, and animal models used to understand our knowledge of the disease. The relative difficulty of obtaining human pancreatic tissue during pancreatitis makes animal models necessary. Animal models of pancreatitis have been generated to understand disease pathogenesis, test therapeutic interventions, and investigate immune responses. Although current animal models do not recapitulate all aspects of human disease, until better models can be developed available models are useful in addressing key research questions. Differences between experimental and clinical pancreatitis need consideration, and when therapies are tested, models with established disease ought to be included.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s12026-014-8504-5

    View details for Web of Science ID 000336333700025

  • Carbon monoxide-based therapy ameliorates acute pancreatitis via TLR4 inhibition JOURNAL OF CLINICAL INVESTIGATION Xue, J., Habtezion, A. 2014; 124 (1): 437-447


    The protective role of hemeoxygenase-1 (HO-1) in various inflammatory conditions is mediated in part by its products, carbon monoxide (CO) and biliverdin. Here we investigated a therapeutic role for CO and CO-primed cells in acute pancreatitis (AP). In a mouse model of AP, treatment with CO-releasing molecule-2 (CORM-2) decreased mortality, pancreatic damage, and lung injury. CORM-2 decreased systemic inflammatory cytokines, suppressed systemic and pancreatic macrophage TNF-α secretion, and inhibited macrophage TLR4 receptor complex expression. In both human and mouse cells, CORM-2 inhibited endogenous and exogenous ligand-dependent TLR4 activation, which indicates that CORM-2 could be therapeutic for both early and late stages of AP, which involve sterile- and endotoxin-mediated inflammation, respectively. Mice engrafted with TLR4-deficient hematopoietic cells were protected against caerulein-induced AP. In the absence of leukocyte TLR4 expression, CORM-2 did not confer additional protection, which indicates that CORM-2-dependent effects are mediated via suppression of macrophage TLR4 activation. We determined that CO was directly responsible for the protective effects of CORM-2 in AP, as inactive forms of CORM-2 were ineffective. Importantly, adoptive transfer of CORM-2-primed cells reduced AP. Such a therapeutic approach would translate the beneficial effects of CO-based therapies, avoiding CO- or CO-RM-mediated toxicities in AP and a wide range of diseases.

    View details for DOI 10.1172/JCI71362

    View details for Web of Science ID 000329333500048

    View details for PubMedID 24334457

  • Role of immune cells and immune-based therapies in pancreatitis and pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma. Gastroenterology Zheng, L., Xue, J., Jaffee, E. M., Habtezion, A. 2013; 144 (6): 1230-1240


    Immune cells are important in the pathogenesis of acute pancreatitis and determine disease severity. Results from cytokine-based clinical trials for acute pancreatitis have been disappointing, so strategies that target and alter the behavior of infiltrating immune cells require consideration. Recurrent acute pancreatitis can progress to chronic pancreatitis, which is a well-described risk factor for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA). However, most patients with chronic pancreatitis do not develop PDA, and most patients with PDA do not have a history of pancreatitis. Interestingly, chronic pancreatitis and PDA tissues have similarities in their desmoplasia and inflammatory infiltrates, indicating overlapping inflammatory responses. Further studies are needed to determine the differences and similarities of these responses, improve our understanding of PDA pathogenesis, and develop specific immune-based therapies. Immune cells in PDA produce immunosuppressive signals that allow tumors to evade the immune response. Unlike single therapeutic agent studies that block immunosuppressive mechanisms, studies of combination therapies that include therapeutic vaccines have provided promising results.

    View details for DOI 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.12.042

    View details for PubMedID 23622132

  • A non-secretory form of FAM3B promotes invasion and metastasis of human colon cancer cells by upregulating Slug expression CANCER LETTERS Li, Z., Mou, H., Wang, T., Xue, J., Deng, B., Qian, L., Zhou, Y., Gong, W., Wang, J. M., Wu, G., Zhou, C., Fang, J., Le, Y. 2013; 328 (2): 278-284


    FAM3B mRNA has been predicted to have multiple splicing forms. Its secretory form PANDER is decreased in gastric cancers with high invasiveness and metastasis. Here we found that its non-secretory form FAM3B-258 was highly expressed in most colon cancer cell lines and colorectal adenocarcinoma tissues but not hepatocellular carcinoma, lung carcinoma and pancreatic adenocarcinoma cell lines. Elevation of FAM3B-258 was associated with poor cancer cell differentiation. Stable overexpression of FAM3B-258 in colon cancer cells downregulated adhesion proteins, upregulated Slug and Cdc42, promoted cell migration and invasion in vitro and metastasis in nude mice. Slug mediated FAM3B-258-induced downregulation of adhesion molecules, upregulation of Cdc42, and invasion of colon cancer cells. The expression of FAM3B-258 in human colorectal adenocarcinomas was positively correlated with Slug. These results suggest that FAM3B-258 promotes colon cancer cell invasion and metastasis through upregulation of Slug.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.canlet.2012.09.026

    View details for Web of Science ID 000313138000012

    View details for PubMedID 23059759

  • Aryl Hydrocarbon Receptor Regulates Pancreatic IL-22 Production and Protects Mice From Acute Pancreatitis GASTROENTEROLOGY Xue, J., Nguyen, D. T., Habtezion, A. 2012; 143 (6): 1670-1680


    The type of immune response during development of acute pancreatitis (AP) determines disease severity. Pancreatic epithelial cells express the interleukin (IL)-22 receptor A1 (IL-22RA1). The aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR) is a ligand-dependent transcription factor that regulates expression of IL-22. We investigated sources and role of IL-22 in the pancreas, along with the effects of AhR activation on IL-22 expression and AP progression in mice.We analyzed the effects of recombinant IL-22, a monoclonal antibody against IL-22, and agonists and antagonists of AhR in mice with AP (induced with caerulein or a choline-deficient diet supplemented with DL-ethionine) and control mice. We also analyzed transgenic mice with AhR deficiency (AhR(d) and AhR(-/-) mice).CD4(+) T cells were the main source of IL-22 in pancreatic tissues from healthy mice. During development of AP, numbers of IL-22(+) CD4(+) T cells were reduced, whereas IL-22RA1 was up-regulated. Consistent with high levels of IL-22RA1 expression, pancreatic acinar cells responded to IL-22 signaling via signal transducers and activators of transcription 3; administration of IL-22 reduced AP and associated lung injury in mice. AhR was required for production of IL-22 and protected mice from AP. Mice that did not respond to AhR activation developed AP, but administration of IL-22 reduced AP; blockade of IL-22 reversed the ability of activated AhR to protect against AP.AhR activation protects mice from AP by inducing expression of IL-22. AhR therefore mediates interactions between pancreatic leukocytes and epithelial cells and might be developed as a therapeutic target.

    View details for DOI 10.1053/j.gastro.2012.08.051

    View details for Web of Science ID 000311505100044

    View details for PubMedID 23022954

  • pVHL Mediates K63-Linked Ubiquitination of nCLU PLOS ONE Xue, J., Lv, D., Jiao, S., Zhao, W., Li, X., Sun, H., Yan, B., Fan, L., Hu, R., Fang, J. 2012; 7 (4)


    pVHL, product of von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) tumor suppressor gene, functions as the substrate recognition component of an E3-ubiquitin ligase that targets proteins for ubiquitination and proteasomal degradation. Hypoxia-inducible factor ? (HIF?) is the well-known substrate of pVHL. Besides HIF?, pVHL also binds to many other proteins and has multiple functions. In this manuscript, we report that the nuclear clusterin (nCLU) is a target of pVHL. We found that pVHL had a direct interaction with nCLU. nCLU bound to pVHL at pVHL's ? domain, the site for recognition of substrate, indicating that nCLU might be a substrate of pVHL. Interestingly, pVHL bound to nCLU but did not lead to nCLU destruction. Further studies indicated that pVHL mediated K63-linked ubiquitination of nCLU and promoted nCLU nuclear translocation. In summary, our results disclose a novel function of pVHL that mediates K63-linked ubiquitination and identify nCLU as a new target of pVHL.

    View details for DOI 10.1371/journal.pone.0035848

    View details for Web of Science ID 000305339200118

    View details for PubMedID 22532874

  • The orphan nuclear receptor EAR2 is overexpressed in colorectal cancer and it regulates survivability of colon cancer cells CANCER LETTERS Li, X., Jiao, S., Sun, H., Xue, J., Zhao, W., Fan, L., Wu, G., Fang, J. 2011; 309 (2): 137-144


    EAR2 is a member of the chick ovalbumin upstream promoter-transcription factors (COUP-TFs). COUP-TFs belong to orphan nuclear receptors and regulate many biological processes. Little is known regarding EAR2 in cancer, though much progress has been made in understanding the function of other COUP-TF members. The aim of this study is to investigate the expression and possible function of EAR2 in colorectal cancer. We determined expression of EAR2 in human primary colorectal malignant tumors and their paired adjacent normal colorectal tissues. We found that expression of EAR2 was upregulated in colorectal tumors. Knockdown of EAR2 induced apoptosis of colon cancer cells, suggesting that EAR2 may function to regulate survivability of colon cancer cells. In vivo tumor study demonstrated that knockdown of EAR2 inhibited the xenograft growth of colon cancer cells. We found that knockdown of EAR2 inhibited the expression of X-linked inhibitor of apoptosis protein (XIAP), suggesting that EAR2 regulates cell survivability, at least partly, through XIAP. In this manuscript, we demonstrated that expression of EAR2 was elevated in colorectal cancer and knockdown of EAR2 reduced survivability and tumor growth of colon cancer cells. Our results suggest that EAR2 plays an important role in development of colorectal cancer. The findings also suggest that EAR2 may serve as a potential therapeutic target of colorectal cancer.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.canlet.2011.05.025

    View details for Web of Science ID 000294576400003

    View details for PubMedID 21696885

  • Prolyl hydroxylase domain protein 3 targets Pax2 for destruction BIOCHEMICAL AND BIOPHYSICAL RESEARCH COMMUNICATIONS Yan, B., Jiao, S., Zhang, H., Lv, D., Xue, J., Fan, L., Wu, G., Fang, J. 2011; 409 (2): 315-320


    Prolyl hydroxylase domain proteins (PHDs) hydroxylate HIF? in the presence of oxygen, leading to HIF? proteasomal destruction. The PHDs family comprises PHD1, 2, and 3. Recent studies indicate that, in addition to HIF?, PHDs have other substrates. Paired box (Pax) 2, a transcription factor, was found aberrantly expressed in a variety of cancers. However, the underlying mechanisms remain unknown. Here we demonstrate that PHD3 is a negative regulator of expression of Pax2. We found that PHD3 bound to Pax2 and mediated Pax2 destruction directly. Inhibition of PHD3 hydroxylase activity led to upregulation of Pax2 protein but not mRNA level. We found that Pax2 protein was increased and PHD3 protein was decreased in colorectal cancer, and the increased Pax2 was associated with decreased PHD3. Our results suggest that PHD3 targets Pax2 for destruction. The findings may disclose a mechanism for the regulation of Pax2 expression in cancer cells.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.bbrc.2011.05.012

    View details for Web of Science ID 000291779100029

    View details for PubMedID 21575608

  • Prolyl Hydroxylase-3 Is Down-regulated in Colorectal Cancer Cells and Inhibits IKK beta Independent of Hydroxylase Activity GASTROENTEROLOGY Xue, J., Li, X., Jiao, S., Wei, Y., Wu, G., Fang, J. 2010; 138 (2): 606-615


    Prolyl hydroxylase (PHD) hydroxylates hypoxia inducible factor (HIF) alpha, leading to HIFalpha degradation. The PHD family comprises PHD1, PHD2, and PHD3. The enzymatic activity of PHDs is O(2)-dependent, so PHDs are believed to be oxygen sensors as well as tumor suppressors. However, the expression pattern of PHDs in colorectal cancer and the correlation between their expression level and tumorigenesis is unclear.We determined the expression of PHDs in 60 human primary colorectal carcinoma tissues, paired with normal colorectal tissues. PHD3 expression levels were knocked down using small interfering RNA (siRNA); cells were analyzed by immunoblotting, immunoprecipitation, and histochemical analyses. In vivo tumor growth was analyzed in nu/nu mice.Expression of PHD3 is decreased in colorectal cancer tissues. Decreased expression of PHD3 is associated with higher tumor grade and metastasis. PHD3 inhibits phosphorylation of inhibitor of kappaB (IkappaB) kinase (IKK) beta and activation of (NF) kappaB, independent of its hydroxylase activity. PHD3 associates with IKKbeta but does not target it for destruction; instead, PHD3 blocks the interaction between IKKbeta and Hsp90 that is required for phosphorylation of IKKbeta. Knockdown of PHD3 increased resistance of colorectal cancer cells to the effects of tumor necrosis factor-alpha and tumorigenesis.PHD3 appears to be a tumor suppressor in colorectal cancer cells that inhibits IKKbeta/NF-kappaB signaling, independent of its hydroxylase activity. Activation of NF-kappaB has been observed in colon cancer. Determination of PHD3 status could aid targeted therapy selection for patients with colorectal tumors that have increased NF-kappaB activity.

    View details for DOI 10.1053/j.gastro.2009.09.049

    View details for Web of Science ID 000274300900028

    View details for PubMedID 19786027

  • Fludarabine reduces survivability of HepG2 cells through VEGF under hypoxia ARCHIVES OF BIOCHEMISTRY AND BIOPHYSICS Xue, J., Bi, X., Wu, G., Meng, D., Fang, J. 2007; 468 (1): 100-106


    Fludarabine is the major drug against chronic lymphoblastic leukemia. However, the effects of fludarabine on solid tumors remain unclear. We reported previously that fludarabine inhibited expression of hypoxia-inducible factor 1alpha (HIF-1alpha) and vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in human ovarian cancer cells. The present study aims to investigate, (1) the mechanisms that fludarabine inhibits expression of HIF-1alpha and (2) the effects of fludarabine on tumor cells survival under hypoxia. Human hepatoma HepG2 cells were tested. We found that fludarabine reduced HIF-1alpha stability through prolyl hydroxylation. Fludarabine suppressed hypoxia-induced expression of VEGF and its receptor KDR. It inhibited VEGF-induced activation of AKT and ERK signaling and reduced hypoxia-enhanced HepG2 cell survivability. HepG2 cells were much more sensitive to fludarabine treatment under hypoxia than under nomoxia. These results suggest that fludarabine reduces survivability of HepG2 cells via VEGF signaling under hypoxia.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/

    View details for Web of Science ID 000251352500011

    View details for PubMedID 17961496

  • Chrysin inhibits expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha through reducing hypoxia-inducible factor-1 alpha stability and inhibiting its protein synthesis MOLECULAR CANCER THERAPEUTICS Fu, B., Xue, J., Li, Z., Shi, X., Jiang, B., Fang, J. 2007; 6 (1): 220-226


    Chrysin is a natural flavonoid and has been shown recently to have anticancer effects. However, the mechanisms that chrysin inhibits cancers are not well known. In this study, we investigated the effects of chrysin on expression of hypoxia-inducible factor-1alpha (HIF-1alpha) and vascular endothelial growth factor in human prostate cancer DU145 cells. Chrysin inhibited insulin-induced expression of HIF-1alpha by reducing its stability. Chrysin increases ubiquitination and degradation of HIF-1alpha by increasing its prolyl hydroxylation. In addition, chrysin interfered with interaction between HIF-1alpha and heat shock protein 90. Chrysin was also found to inhibit HIF-1alpha expression through AKT signaling. Inhibition of HIF-1alpha by chrysin resulted in abrogation of vascular endothelial growth factor expression. Finally, we showed that chrysin inhibited DU145 xenograft-induced angiogenesis in nude mice. Taken together, these results suggest that chrysin is a potent inhibitor of HIF-1alpha and provide a new sight into the mechanisms of chrysin against cancers.

    View details for DOI 10.1158/1535-7163.MCT-06-0526

    View details for Web of Science ID 000243759800024

    View details for PubMedID 17237281

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