Wanguo Liu, PhD

Professor, Department of Genetics  

Morey L. Sear and Dr. Oliver Sartor Endowed Professor for Prostate Cancer Research

LCRC Building
1700 Tulane Avenue
Room 904
New Orleans, LA 70112
Phone: 504-210-3326


Yunnan Agricultural University, China

Yunnan University, China

PhD - Molecular Biology and Human Genetics
Wayne State University School of Medicine

Fellowship - Postdoctoral Fellow
Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Stanford University Medical Center


Dr. Liu joined the Department of Genetics in June, 2007, from the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota.His research is focused on cancer gene discovery using pathway-based candidacy techniques and characterization of the biological roles of such genes in cacinogenesis. The primary focus has been on the AXIN2 gene. His research previously isolated this gene, identified truncating mutations of this gene in ~25% of colorectal cancer (CRC) with defective MSI, and demonstrated that mutant AXIN2 activates TCF signaling. Recently, germline AXIN2 mutations were also reported in familial CRC families. However, the cellular function of AXIN2 and how its inactivation contributes to cancer remains unknown. He is currently using several approaches to study AXIN2 function, including 1) studies of the regulation of AXIN2 in normal and tumor tissues; 2) identification and characterization of proteins specifically binded to the C-terminus of AXIN2; 3) isolation and characterization of AXIN2 regulated genes; and 4) generation of AXIN2 knockout mouse to elucidate the role of this protein in vivo.

His laboratory is also engaged in the identification and characterization of prostate cancer susceptibility genes. Germline mutations in several DNA damage- signaling pathway genes have been identified, such as CHK2 in prostate cancer patients, and its been shown that the individuals carrying the mutant alleles of these genes have increased risk to develop prostate cancer. His research also demonstrated that cells carrying such mutant alleles either lose their abilities to respond to DNA damage or to induce apoptosis. Current efforts are aimed at identifying additional prostate cancer susceptibility genes in the same pathway and characterizing the roles of such genes in prostate cancer carcinogenesis. It is anticipated that this work will provide more information in identifying men at increased risk of prostate cancer development in whom prevention strategies might be targeted.

Research Interests

  • Genetics and biological roles of Wnt signaling defects in GI tumor development
  • Genetics and functional analysis of DNA damage-response defects in prostate cancer susceptibility

Selected Publications

Wang ZH, Wang ZM, Guo J, Li Y, Bavarva JH, Qian C, Brahimi-Horn CM, Tan D, and Liu W. Inactivation of Androgen-Induced Regulator ARD1 Inhibits Androgen Receptor Acetylation and Prostate Tumorigenesis. PNAS 2012 Feb 6. (Epub ahead of print).

Guo J, Zheng L, Liu WY, Wang X, Wang Z, French AJ, Kang D, Thibodeau SN, and Liu W. A Truncating Mutation of TFAM Results in Mitochondrial DNA Depletion and Apoptotic Resistance in Most Microsatellite Unstable Colorectal Cancer. Cancer Res 2011; 71(8):2978-87.

Li Y, Bavarva JH, Qian C, Thibodeau SN, Golemis EA, and Liu W. HEF1, a Novel Target of Wnt Signaling, Promotes Colonic Cell Migration and Cancer Progression. Oncogene 2011; 30:2633-43. 

Zhang J, Zhao D, Park HP, Wang H, Wang L, Dyer RB, Liu W, Thibodeau SN, McNiven MA, Tindall DJ, Molina JR, and Fei P. FAVL Elevation Disrupts Fanconi Anemia Pathway Signaling and Promotes Genomic Instability and Tumor Growth. J Clin Invest 2010; 120(5):1524-34.  

Guo J, Cagatay T, Zhou G, Chan CC, Blythe S, Suyama K, Zheng L, Pan K, Qian C, Hamelin R, Thibodeau SN, Klein PS, Wharton KA, and Liu W. Mutations in the human naked cuticle homolog NKD1 found in colorectal cancer alter Wnt/Dvl/beta-catenin signaling. PLoS One 2009; 4(11):e7982.

Wang L, Oberg AL, Asmann YW, Sicotte H, McDonnell SK, Riska SM, Liu W, Steer CJ, Subramanian S, Cunningham JM, Cerhan JR, Thibodeau SN. Genome-wide Transcriptional Profiling Reveals MicroRNA-correlated Genes and Biological Processes in Human Lymphoblastoid Cell Lines. PLoS One2009; 11:4(6) e5878.

Wang X, Szabo C, Qian C, Amadio PG, Thibodeau SN, Cerhan JR, Petersen GM, Liu W, Couch FJ. Mutational analysis of thirty-two double-strand DNA break repair genes in breast and pancreatic cancers. Cancer Res 2008; 68(4):971-5.

Lee H, Kim D, Dan HC, Wu El, Gritsko TM, Cao C, Nicosia SV, Golemis EA, Liu W,Coppola D, Drem SS, Testa JR, and Cheng JQ. Identification and characterization of putative tumor suppressor NGB, a GTP-binding protein that interacts with the neurofibromatosis 2 protein. Mol Cell Biol2007; 27:2103-19.

Wang X, Taniguchi K, Seelan RS, Wang L, McDonnell SK, Qian C, Pan K, Lu Y, Shridhar V, Couch FJ, Tindall DJ, Cooney KA, Isaacs WB, Jacobsen SJ, Schaid DJ, Thibodeau SN, and Liu W.  Germline p53AIP1 Mutations Disrupting DNA Damage-induced Apoptosis are Associated with Sporadic Prostate Cancer. Cancer Res 2006; 66(21):10302-07. 

Additional Info