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He Lab

Research Interests

Wnt signaling in development, stem cells, and cancer

Research Area

Our lab studies the canonical Wnt/b-catenin pathway, one of the major signaling pathways active during early development and adulthood. The Wnt family of secreted growth factors facilitates cell-to-cell communication and is involved in numerous processes, including stem cell self-renewal, cellular proliferation, and cellular determination. During embryogenesis, proper Wnt signaling is critical for neurodevelopment and head formation in most animals. Wnt signaling is also active in adulthood, particularly in maintaining skeletal, hematopoietic, and intestinal tissue homeostasis. Disruptions in Wnt signaling are well established in several human pathologies such as cancer, degenerative diseases, and skeletal defects. Thus, furthering our understanding of this complex pathway will provide essential information applicable to human health.

Current Members

He, Xi (Principal Investigator/Director)

Additional Information

Wnt/beta-catenin signaling: The canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling regulates beta-catenin phosphorylation/degradation and thus beta-catenin-dependent gene expression program. We are interested in understanding the molecular logic of this key developmental signaling pathway, including its dual-receptor system (the Frizzled family and LDL receptor-related proteins, LRP5 and LRP6), the dual-kinase system (CKI and GSK3) for both beta-catenin and the LRP5/6 coreceptors, and the connection from the receptors to beta-catenin regulation. Wnt signaling in cell polarity: Wnt signaling controls cell polarity, movements and tissue separation during vertebrate gastrulation via distinct signaling pathways, including Rho and Rac GTPases. These pathways are sometimes referred to as planar cell polarity signaling. Wnt/Frizzled signaling also regulates neuronal axon growth/polarity in mice. We are interested in understanding the molecular basis for these perhaps related phenomena. Wnt signaling in stem cell biology, cancer and diseases: The canonical Wnt/beta-catenin signaling is involved in stem cell regulation, cancer and other diseases such as osteoporosis, as hyperactive beta-catenin signaling leads to tumorigenesis and loss of function of LRP5 results in familial osteoporosis. We are interested in how Wnt signaling interfaces with the self-renewal property of stem cells, and the molecular links between Wnt signaling and human diseases.


Institution: F.M.Kirby Neurobiology Center

Children's Hospital Boston
CLS 12064
3 Blackfan Circle
Boston, MA
02115, USA

Web Page:

Phone: 617-919-2257

Fax: 617-919-2771