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Wei Cao, Ph.D.

Present Title & Affiliation

Primary Appointment

Assistant Professor, Department of Immunology, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX

Office Address

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
7455 Fannin
Unit Number: 902
Houston, TX 77054
Room Number: SCR4.2017

Education & Training

Degree-Granting Education

1995 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC, PHD, Biochemistry & Biophysics
1991 Tsinghua University, Beijing, China, BS, Biological Science & Technology

Postgraduate Training

1/1995-10/1998 Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Scripps Research Institute, La Jolla, CA


Academic Appointments

Regular Member, Graduate Faculty, University of Texas Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences, Houston, TX, 9/2008-present

Honors and Awards

2008 Cynthia Chambers Memorial - eBioscience Junior Faculty Award, The American Association of Immunologists
2008 Good Paper Award, The 10th International Symposium on Dendritic Cells

Selected Publications

Peer-Reviewed Original Research Articles

1. Di Domizio J, Dorta-Estremera S, Gagea M, Ganguly D, Meller S, Li P, Zhao B, Tan FK, Bi L, Gilliet M, Cao W. Nucleic acid-containing amyloid fibrils potently induce type I interferon and stimulate systemic autoimmunity. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 109(36):14550-5, 9/2012. e-Pub 8/2012. PMCID: PMC3437876.
2. Bao M, Hanabuchi S, Facchinetti V, Du Q, Bover L, Plumas J, Chaperot L, Cao W, Qin J, Sun SC, Liu YJ. CD2AP/SHIP1 complex positively regulates plasmacytoid dendritic cell receptor signaling by inhibiting the E3 ubiquitin ligase Cbl. J Immunol 189(2):786-92, 7/2012. e-Pub 6/2012. PMID: 22706086.
3. Di Domizio J, Zhang R, Stagg LJ, Gagea M, Zhuo M, Ladbury JE, Cao W. Binding With Nucleic Acids or Glycosaminoglycans Converts Soluble Protein Oligomers to Amyloid. J Biol Chem 287(1):736-47, 1/2012. e-Pub 11/2011. PMCID: PMC3249128.
4. Hanabuchi S, Ito T, Park WR, Watanabe N, Shaw JL, Roman E, Arima K, Wang YH, Voo KS, Cao W, Liu YJ. Thymic stromal lymphopoietin-activated plasmacytoid dendritic cells induce the generation of Foxp3+ regulatory T cells in human thymus. J Immunol 184(6):2999-3007, 3/2010. e-Pub 2/2010. PMID: 20173030.
5. Cao W, Bover L, Cho M, Hanabuchi S, Bao M, Rosen DB, Wang Y-H,Shaw JL, Du Q, Arai N, Yao Z, Lanier LL, Liu Y-J. Regulation of TLR7/9 Responses in Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells by BST2 and ILT7 Receptor Interaction. J Exp Med 206(7). e-Pub 6/2009. PMCID: PMC2715090.
6. Rosen DB, Cao W, Aver DT, Tangye SG, Liu Y-J. Functional consequences of interactions between human NKR-P1A and its ligand LLT1 expressed on activated dendritic cells and B cells. J Immunol 180(10):6508-6517, 2008. PMCID: PMC2577150.
7. Lande R, Gregorio J, Facchinetti V, Chatterjee B, Wang YH, Homey B, Cao W, Wang YH, Su B, Nestle FO, Zal T, Mellman I, Schröder JM, Liu YJ, Gilliet M. Plasmacytoid dendritic cells sense self-DNA coupled with antimicrobial peptide. Nature 449(7162). e-Pub 9/2007. PMID: 17873860.
8. Cao W, Zhang L, Rosen DB, Bover L, Watanabe G, Bao M, Lanier LL, Liu YJ. BDCA2/Fc epsilon RI gamma complex signals through a novel BCR-like pathway in human plasmacytoid dendritic cells. PLoS Biol 5(10):e248, 2007. PMCID: PMC1971124.
9. Hanabuchi S, Watanabe N, Wang YH, Wang YH, Ito T, Shaw J, Cao W, Qin FX, Liu YJ. Human plasmacytoid predendritic cells activate NK cells through glucocorticoid-induced tumor necrosis factor receptor-ligand (GITRL). Blood 107(9):3617-23, 2006. PMID: 16397134.
10. Cao W, Rosen DB, Ito T, Bover L, Bao M, Watanabe G, Yao Z, Zhang L, Lanier LL, Liu YJ. Plasmacytoid dendritic cell-specific receptor ILT7-Fc epsilonRI gamma inhibits Toll-like receptor-induced interferon production. J Exp Med 203(6):1399-405, 2006. e-Pub 5/2006. PMCID: PMC2118323.
11. Ito T, Kanzler H, Duramad O, Cao W, Liu YJ. Specialization, kinetics, and repertoire of type 1 interferon responses by human plasmacytoid predendritic cells. Blood 107(6):2423-31, 2006. e-Pub 11/2005. PMID: 16293610.
12. Watanabe N, Wang YH, Lee HK, Ito T, Wang YH, Cao W, Liu YJ. Hassall's corpuscles instruct dendritic cells to induce CD4+CD25+ regulatory T cells in human thymus. Nature 436(7054):1181-5, 2005. PMID: 16121185.
13. Ito T, Wang YH, Duramad O, Hori T, Delespesse GJ, Watanabe N, Qin FX, Yao Z, Cao W, Liu YJ. TSLP-activated dendritic cells induce an inflammatory T helper type 2 cell response through OX40 ligand. J Exp Med 202(9):1213-23, 2005. PMID: 16275760.
14. Smelt SC, Borrow P, Kunz S, Cao W, Tishon A, Lewicki H, Campbell KP, Oldstone MB. Differences in affinity of binding of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus strains to the cellular receptor alpha-dystroglycan correlate with viral tropism and disease kinetics. J Virol 75(1):448-57, 2001. PMID: 11119613.
15. Cao W, Henry MD, Borrow P, Yamada H, Elder JH, Ravkov EV, Nichol ST, Compans RW, Campbell KP, Oldstone MB. Identification of alpha-dystroglycan as a receptor for lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus and Lassa fever virus. Science 282(5396):2079-81, 1998. PMID: 9851928.
16. Cao W, Oldstone MBA, de la Torre JC,. Viral persistent infection affects both transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulation of neuron-specific molecule GAP43. Virology 230:147-154, 1997.
17. Cao W, Douglas MG. Specific targeting of ISP6 to mitochondria is mediated by sequences other than its amino terminus. Biochem Biophys Res Commun 224(2):457-61, 1996. PMID: 8702410.
18. Cao W, Douglas MG. Biogenesis of ISP6, a small carboxyl-terminal anchored protein of the receptor complex of the mitochondrial outer membrane. J Biol Chem 270:5674-9, 1995. PMID: 7890690.
19. Ke H, Mayrose D, Cao W. Crystal structure of cyclophilin A complexed with substrate Ala-Pro suggests a solvent-assisted mechanism of cis-trans isomerization. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 90:3324-3328, 1993.
20. Kassenbrock CK, Cao W, Douglas MG. Genetic and biochemical characterization of ISP6, a small mitochondrial outer membrane protein associated with the protein translocation complex. EMBO J 12:3023-34, 1993. PMID: 8344244.

Invited Articles

1. Cao W, Bover L. Signaling and ligand interaction of ILT7: receptor-mediated regulatory mechanisms for plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Immunol Rev 234(1):163-76, 3/2010. PMCID: PMC2919054.
2. Cao W. Molecular Characterization of Human Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells. J Clin Immunol 29(3):257-64, 5/2009. e-Pub 3/6/2009. PMID: 19266271.
3. Gilliet M*, Cao W*, and Liu Y-J (*equal contribution). Plasmacytoid dendritic cells: sensing nucleic acids in viral infection and autoimmune diseases. Nat Rev Immunol 8(8):594-606, 8/2008. PMID: 18641647.
4. Cao W, Liu Y-J. Innate immune functions of plasmacytoid dendritic cells. Curr Opin Immunol 18(1):1-7, 2/2007. e-Pub 11/20/2006. PMID: 17113765.


1. Cao W, Liu YJ. Opn: key regulator of pDC interferon production. Nat Immunol 7(5):441-3, 5/2006. PMID: 16622428.

Book Chapters

1. Cao W. "Innate Immune Activation and Regulation of Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells". In: New Research on Innate Immunity. Ed(s) M Durand, CV Morel. Nova Scotia Publishers: New York, 2008.
2. Cao W, Henry MD, Borrow P, Yamada H, Elder JH, Campbell KP, Oldstone MBA. "Isolation of a cellular receptor for Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis Virus and Lassa Fever Virus". In: Emergence and control of rodent-borne viral diseases: emerging diseases: 28-31 October 1998. Elsevier: New York, 225-231, 1999.

Last updated: 1/9/2013