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Hong Wen, Ph.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Assistant Professor, Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis, Division of Basic Science Research, The University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Research Interests

I am interested in understanding the functions and mechanisms of tumor suppressors, oncoproteins and their associated proteins in the regulation of chromatin and transcription. My graduate research in the Chinese Academy of Sciences was focused on the identification and characterization of new interacting proteins of the retinoblastoma (Rb) protein. I identified several novel Rb-binding proteins, including RBP95 (also known as RNF40 or BRE1B) (Wen et al, BBRC, 2000) and RBP21 (a.k.a. EID-1 and CRI-1) (Wen et al Gene, 2001). Drosophila Rb proteins interact with the Myb protein and several other Myb-interacting proteins to form a complex known as DREAM or MuvB, and similar complexes are evolutionarily conserved. During my postdoctoral training in Dr. Joseph Lipsick’s laboratory at Stanford University, I was working on elucidating the functions of the Myb proteins using Drosophila and mouse models. I characterized the mitotic abnormalities in fly Myb null mutant (Manak and Wen et al, Nat Cell Biol, 2007) and discovered the underlined epigenetic mechanism (Wen et al, Genes & Dev. 2008; Andrejka and Wen et al, PNAS 2011). After I joined MD Anderson Cancer Center as an Assistant Professor, I started to work on a Myb-binding protein ZMYND11. Through high-throughput screening using histone peptide array, I found that ZMYND11 is a histone variant H3.3-specific reader of H3K36 methylation that regulates transcription elongation (Wen et al Nature, 2014). We are currently generating a knockout mouse model to determine its role in tumor suppression in vivo. Recently, we made another discovery of the AF9 YEATS domain as a novel reader of histone acetylation (Li & Wen et al, Cell, 2014). AF9 and its functional homologue ENL are common MLL fusion partners in MLL-rearranged leukemias, which account for 70% pediatric leukemias. The current focus of my laboratory is to characterize the role of AF9 and ENL in linking histone acetylation to leukemogenesis of MLL-rearranged leukemia. Our long-term goal is to translate the knowledge into the clinic to develop small molecules targeting the AF9/ENL YEATS domain for the treatment of pediatric leukemias.


Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis
1515 Holcomb Blvd
Unit Number: Unit 1000
Houston, TX 77030
Room Number: BSRB S9.8228
Phone: 713-834-6295
Fax: 713-792-0346
Email: hwen@mdanderson.org

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

2001 Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Shanghai, China, PHD, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
1996 Wuhan University, Wuhan, China, BS, Biochemistry

Postgraduate Training

2002-2008 Research Fellowship, Genetics and cell biology, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, Dr. Joseph Lipsick

Experience/Service

Academic Appointments

Assistant Professor, Department of Epigenetics and Molecular Carcinogenesis, Division of Basic Science Research, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, 7/2014-present

Honors and Awards

2013 Center for Cancer Epigenetics Pilot Grant, Center for Cancer Epigenetics
2013 MD Anderson Institutional Research Grant, MD Anderson
2007 McCormick Scholarship, Stanford University

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Zhao D, Guan H, Zhao S, Mi W, Wen H, Li Y, Zhao Y, Allis CD, Shi X, Li H. YEATS2 is a selective histone crotonylation reader. Cell Res 26(5):629-32, 5/2016. e-Pub 4/2016. PMCID: PMC4856769.
2. Zhang X, Peng D, Xi Y, Yuan C, Sagum CA, Klein BJ, Tanaka K, Wen H, Kutateladze TG, Li W, Bedford MT, Shi X. G9a-mediated methylation of ERα links the PHF20/MOF histone acetyltransferase complex to hormonal gene expression. Nat Commun 7:10810, 2016. e-Pub 3/2016. PMCID: PMC4792926.
3. Li Y, Wen H, Xi Y, Tanaka K, Wang H, Peng D, Ren Y, Jin Q, Dent SY, Li W, Li H, Shi X. AF9 YEATS Domain Links Histone Acetylation to DOT1L-Mediated H3K79 Methylation. Cell 159(3):558-71, 10/2014. PMCID: PMC4344132.
4. Guo R, Zheng L, Park JW, Lv R, Chen H, Jiao F, Xu W, Mu S, Wen H, Qiu J, Wang Z, Yang P, Wu F, Hui J, Fu X, Shi X, Shi YG, Xing Y, Lan F, Shi Y. BS69/ZMYND11 Reads and Connects Histone H3.3 Lysine 36 Trimethylation-Decorated Chromatin to Regulated Pre-mRNA Processing. Mol Cell 56(2):298-310, 10/2014. e-Pub 9/2014. PMCID: PMC4363072.
5. Wen H, Li Y, Xi Y, Jiang S, Stratton S, Peng D, Tanaka K, Ren Y, Xia Z, Wu J, Li B, Barton MC, Li W, Li H, Shi X. ZMYND11 links histone H3.3K36me3 to transcription elongation and tumour suppression. Nature 508(7495):263-8, 4/2014. e-Pub 3/2014. PMCID: PMC4142212.
6. Klein BJ, Piao L, Xi Y, Rincon-Arano H, Rothbart SB, Peng D, Wen H, Larson C, Zhang X, Zheng X, Cortazar MA, Peña PV, Mangan A, Bentley DL, Strahl BD, Groudine M, Li W, Shi X, Kutateladze TG. The histone-H3K4-specific demethylase KDM5B binds to its substrate and product through distinct PHD fingers. Cell Rep 6(2):325-35, 1/2014. e-Pub 1/2014. PMCID: PMC3918441.
7. Zhang X, Tanaka K, Yan J, Li J, Peng D, Jiang Y, Yang Z, Barton MC, Wen H, Shi X. Regulation of estrogen receptor α by histone methyltransferase SMYD2-mediated protein methylation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 110(43):17284-9, 10/2013. e-Pub 10/2013. PMCID: PMC3808627.
8. DeBruhl H, Wen H, Lipsick JS. The complex containing Drosophila Myb and RB/E2F2 regulates cytokinesis in a histone H2Av-dependent manner. Mol Cell Biol 33(9):1809-18, 5/2013. e-Pub 2/2013. PMCID: PMC3624180.
9. Andrejka L, Wen H, Ashton J, Grant M, Iori K, Wang A, Manak JR, Lipsick JS. Animal-specific C-terminal domain links myeloblastosis oncoprotein (Myb) to an ancient repressor complex. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108(42):17438-43, 10/2011. e-Pub 10/2011. PMCID: PMC3198365.
10. Ouyang Y, Petritsch C, Wen H, Jan L, Jan YN, Lu B. Dronc caspase exerts a non-apoptotic function to restrain phospho-Numb-induced ectopic neuroblast formation in Drosophila. Development 138(11):2185-96, 6/2011. PMCID: PMC3091490.
11. Wen H, Li J, Song T, Lu M, Kan PY, Lee MG, Sha B, Shi X. Recognition of histone H3K4 trimethylation by the PHD finger of PHF2 modulates histone demethylation. J Biol Chem 285(13):9322, 3/2010. e-Pub 2/2010. PMCID: PMC2843180.
12. Kachirskaia I, Shi X, Yamaguchi H, Tanoue K, Wen H, Wang EW, Appella E, Gozani O. Role for 53BP1 Tudor domain recognition of p53 dimethylated at lysine 382 in DNA damage signaling. J Biol Chem 283(50):34660-6, 12/12/2008. e-Pub 10/7/2008. PMCID: PMC2596381.
13. Wen H, Andrejka L, Ashton J, Karess R, Lipsick JS. Epigenetic regulation of gene expression by Drosophila Myb and E2F2-RBF via the Myb-MuvB/dREAM complex. Genes Dev 22(5):601-14, 3/2008. PMCID: PMC2259030.
14. Shi X, Kachirskaia I, Yamaguchi H, West LE, Wen H, Wang EW, Dutta S, Appella E, Gozani O. Modulation of p53 function by SET8-mediated methylation at lysine 382. Mol Cell 27(4):636-46, 8/17/2007. PMCID: PMC2693209.
15. Manak JR, Wen H, Van T, Andrejka L, Lipsick JS. Loss of Drosophila Myb interrupts the progression of chromosome condensation. Nat Cell Biol 9(5):581-7, 5/2007. e-Pub 4/22/2007. PMID: 17450131.
16. Wang DM, Sevcikova S, Wen H, Roberts S, Lipsick JS. v-Myb represses the transcription of Ets-2. Oncogene 26(8):1238-44, 2/2007. e-Pub 8/2006. PMID: 16909100.
17. Wen H, Ao S. Identification and characterization of a novel human cDNA encoding a 21 kDa pRb-associated protein. Gene 263(1-2):85-92, 1/2001. PMID: 11223246.
18. Li Q, Wen H, Ao S. Identification and cloning of the cDNA of a Rb-associated protein RAP140a. Sci China C Life Sci 43(6):637-47, 12/2000. PMID: 18726359.
19. Wen H, Ao S. RBP95, a novel leucine zipper protein, binds to the retinoblastoma protein. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 275(1):141-8, 8/2000. PMID: 10944455.
20. Zhou R, Wen H, Ao SZ. Identification of a novel gene encoding a p53-associated protein. Gene 235(1-2):93-101, 7/1999. PMID: 10415337.

Invited Articles

1. Wen H, Li Y, Li H, Shi X. ZMYND11: An H3.3-specific reader of H3K36me3. Cell Cycle 13(14):2153-4, 2014. e-Pub 6/2014. PMID: 24963723.
2. Zhang X, Wen H, Shi X. Lysine methylation: beyond histones. Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai) 44(1):14-27, 1/2012. PMID: 22194010.

Last updated: 7/14/2016