Huang Lab

Huang Lab

    • Huang Lab Research

      The primary interest of the Huang laboratory is to study the molecular basis of genetic syndromes, to apply the discoveries from rare diseases to common conditions and to develop treatments for genetic diseases. Currently, we are focusing on the following areas:

      1. The Genetic Basis of Optic Atrophy and the Potential of Inducible Pluripotent Stem Cell (iPSC) therapy: We have worked with many families affected with autosomal dominant inherited optic atrophy. A condition caused by mutations in the OPA1 gene.  OPA1 is encoded by the nuclear genome and functions in mitochondria. Using electrophysiological analysis, we found that some mutations can also cause hearing loss through asynchronous cochlear conduction and cochlear implant can restore hearing. To study the function of OPA1 and the molecular mechanisms of optic atrophy, we created a drosophila model. We found that mutations of Drosophila homolog of OPA1 (dOPA1) caused an increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS) production and apoptosis. We also showed that antioxidants could partially reverse the eye phenotype, further suggesting that ROS plays an important role in cell death. Together, these results show that dOpa1 mutations cause cell loss by two distinct pathogenic pathways. This study provides novel insights into the pathogenesis of optic atrophy and demonstrates the promise of antioxidants as therapeutic agents for this condition.  Recently, our lab is actively engaged in iPS cell therapy.  We have successfully induced iPS cells differentiation into retinal ganglion cells by chemical treatments and have initiated the preclinical study.

      2. Genetics of Mitochondrial Diseases: Mitochondria are the powerhouse of the cell. Over 90% of the energy required by the cell is produced in the mitochondria. Our group also works on the genetic causes of mitochondrial disorders. We have been using exome sequencing, cell respiration assays, and mitochondrial functional assays to study the pathogenesis of mitochondrial diseases for the patients with novel genetic etiology.

      3. Identification of the Disease-Causing Gene for Lenz Microphthalmia Syndrome (LMS) Using Next Generation Sequencing Technology: LMS is a rare condition characterized by small eyes/no eye and multiple congenital anomalies such as small brain and mental deficiency, abnormal ear, teeth, digits, skeletal and/or genitourinary tract. In this study, we have used a very powerful technology, next generation sequencing, to search for the disease-causing gene in patients with LMS. Identification of disease-causing genes associated with LMS has significantly facilitated our understanding of this condition and can translate into clinical applications.  Since LMS affects multiple organ systems, understanding the gene associated with LMS may open a window for the investigation of other common conditions and human development. Currently, we are using iPS cell model to study pathogenesis and function of the disease-causing gene.

      4. The Role of TBX3 in Breast Cancer Development and Human Embryonic Stem (hES) Cell Differentiation: TBX3 is a T-box transcription factor. Mutations of TBX3 cause Ulnar-Mammary syndrome, characterized by hypoplasia or absence of the mammary glands. Our laboratory is one of the first groups to show that overexpression of TBX3 plays an important role in breast cancer. Our study showed that TBX3 is overexpressed in primary breast cancer tissues. Mechanistically, we found that TBX3 interacts with HDACs and inhibit downstream target gene expression, such as p14ARF. In addition, we found that TBX3 regulates a large group of genes in breast cancer. Our current research aims to optimize the clinical relevance of this data working in parallel with animal and breast cancer tissues. Recently, we have also found that TBX3 plays a very important role in hES cell differentiation. This finding may further our understanding of TBX3 function.

    • Publications

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      Zhang, J., Zhao, F., Fu, Q., Liang, M., Tong, Y., Liu, X., Lin, B., Mi, H., Zhang, M., Wei, Q. P., Xue, L., Jiang, P., Zhou, X., Mo, J. Q., Huang, T., Qu, J., and Guan, M. X. Mitochondrial haplotypes may modulate the phenotypic manifestation of the LHON-associated m.14484T>C (MT-ND6) mutation in Chinese families. Mitochondrion in press. 2013.

      Brodehl A, Dieding M, Klauke B, Dec E, Madaan S, Huang T, Gargus J, Fatima A, Saric T, Cakar H, Walhorn V, Tönsing K, Skrzipczyk T, Cebulla R, Gerdes D, Schulz U, Gummert J, Svendsen JH, Olesen MS, Anselmetti D, Christensen AH, Kimonis V, Milting H. The Novel Desmin Mutant p.A120D Impairs Filament Formation, Prevents Intercalated Disk Localization and Causes Sudden Cardiac Death. Circ Cardiovasc Genet., 2013.

      Fan Y, Steller J, Gonzalez IL, Kulik W, Fox M, Chang R, Westerfield BA, Batra AS, Wang RY, Gallant NM, Pena LS, Wang H, Huang T, Bhuta S, Penny DJ, McCabe ER, Kimonis VE. A Novel Exonic Splicing Mutation in the TAZ (G4.5) Gene in a Case with Atypical Barth Syndrome. JIMD Rep. 11:99-106. 2013.

      Hamidreza Riazifar,Yousheng Jia, Gary Lynch,Taosheng Huang. Chemically-Induced Specification of Retinal Ganglion Cells from Human Embryonic and Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell Translation Medicine. in press. 2013.

      Taraneh Esmailpour, Hamidreza Riazifar, Sandra Donkervoort, Vincent H Huang, Shreshtha Madaan, Bassem M Shoucri, Anke Busch, Jerry Linan Liu, Jie Wu,  Robert B Chadwick, Virginia Kimonis, Taosheng Huang. Whole exome sequencing identifies a genetic cause of Lenz Microphthalmia Syndrome. Journal of Medical Genetics. in press. 2013.


      Fuyun Ji, Mark S. Sharpley, Olga Derbenev, Leonardo Scherer Alves,  Pin Qian, Yaoli Wang,Dimitra Chalkiab, Maria Lvov, Jiancheng Xu, Wei Yao, Mariella Simon, Julia Platt, Shiqin Xu, Alessia Angelinb, Antonio Davil, Taosheng Huang, Ping H. Wang, Lee-Ming Chuang, Lorna G. Moore, Guisheng Qian, and Douglas C. Wallace. Mitochondrial DNA variant associated with Leber hereditary optic neuropathy and high-altitude Tibetans, PNAS, 109(19):7391-6. 2012.

      Chengkang Zhang, Vincent H. Huang, Mariella Simon, Lokendra K. Sharma, Weiwei Fan, Richard Haas, Douglas C. Wallace, Yidong Bai, Taosheng Huang. Heteroplasmic Mutations of the Mitochondrial Genome Cause Paradox Effects on Mitochondrial Functions . FASEB Journal, in press. 2012.

      Taraneh Esmailpour and Taosheng Huang. TBX3 promotes human embryonic stem cell proliferation and neuroectoderm differentiation in a differentiation stage-dependent manner. Stem Cell, in press. 2012.

      Joshua Park, Debbie Liang, Hoda Anton-Culver, Jung Woo Kim, Yongjun Luo, Taosheng Huang, Soo-Young Kim, Seong-Sil Chang. Nail DNA and Possible Biomarkers: A Pilot Study. J Prev Med Public Health. 45;235-243. 2012.

      Eugen-Matthias Strehle, Linbo Yu, Jill A. Rosenfeld, Sandra Donkervoort, Yulin Zhou, Tian-Jian Chen, Jose E. Martinez, Yao-Shan Fan, Deborah Barbouth, Hongbo Zhu, Alicia Vaglio, Rosemarie Smith, Cathy A. Stevens, Cynthia J. Curry, Roger L. Ladda, Zheng (Jane) Fan, Joyce E. Fox, Judith A. Martin, Hoda Z. Abdel-Hamid, Elizabeth A. McCracken, Barbara C. McGillivray, Diane Masser-Frye and Taosheng Huang. Genotype-phenotype analysis of 4q deletion syndrome: proposal of a critical region. Am J Med  Genet A,s,  158A:2139-2151, 2012. 

      Eugen-Matthias Strehle, Dariuz Gruszfeld, Daniel Schenk, Sarju G. Mehta,Ingrid Simonic and Taosheng Huang, The spectrum of 4q- syndrome illustrated by a case series. Gene. 506(2):387-391. 2012.


      Jing Liu, Taraneh Esmailpour, Xiying Shang, Gultekin Gulsen, Andy Liu & Taosheng Huang. TBX3 overexpression in an inducible transgenic mouse model causes hyperplasia of the mammary glands and increased mammary stem cells. BMC Dev Biol. 11:65. 2011.


      Luo, Y., Tang, S., Taosheng Huang*, and Gao, Y. Genotyping mitochondrial DNA single nucleotide polymorphisms by PCR ligase detection reactions. (* co-corresponding author) Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. 48(4):475-83. 2010.

      Sha Tang., and Taosheng Huang. Parallel sequencing for human mitochondrial DNA characterization and heteroplasmy quantification. Biotechniques. 48 (4):287–296. 2010.


      Parvin Shojaeian, Hung-Tat Leung, Karen Ocorr, Rolf Bodmer, William L. Pak, Stephanie Tse, Phung Khanh Le, Kimberly Nguyen,Taosheng Huang. Heterozygous mutation of Drosophila Opa1 causes the development of multiple organ abnormalities in an age-dependent and organ-specific manner. PLoS One. 4(8):e6867. 2009.

      Taosheng Huang, Rosamaria Santarelli, Arnold Starr. Cochlear potentials accompanying R445H mutation of OPA1 gene in patients with both optic and auditory neuropathies. Brain Research; 1300:97-104. 2009.

      Sha Tang, Sumita Danda, Mehrdad  Zoleikhaeian, Mariella Simon, Taosheng Huang. An Indian Boy with Nephropathic Cystinosis: A Case Report and Molecular Analysis of CTNS Mutation. Genetic testing and Molecular Biomarkers. 13 (4): 435–438. 2009.

      Sha Tang, Anjan Batra, Yu Zhang, Eric S Ebenroth, Taosheng Huang. Mutations of the mitochondrial genome are associated with left ventricular noncompaction (LVNC). Mitochondrion, 10(4):350-7. 2009.


      Will Yarosh, Jessica Monserrate, James Jiayuan Tong, Diane Le, Kimberly Nguyen, Carrie Brachmann Douglas Wallace, Taosheng Huang. The Molecular Mechanisms of OPA1-Mediated Optic Atrophy in Drosophila Model and Prospects for Antioxidant Treatment. PLoS Genetics, 4(1):e6. Jan 2008.

      Will Yarosh*, Tomasa Barrientos*, Taraneh Esmailpour, Limin Lin, Philip M. Carpenter, Kathryn Osann, Hoda Anton-Culver and Taosheng Huang. TBX3 is overexpressed in breast cancer and represses p14ARF by interacting with HDACs. Cancer Research, 68:693-699. 2008.  *These authors contribute equally.

      Sha Tang, Stephanie Tse, Phung Khanh Le, Kimberly Nguyen, Douglas C. Wallace and Taosheng Huang. Heterozygous Mutation of Opa1 in Drosophila Shorten Lifespan Mediated through Increased Reactive Oxygen Species Production. PLoS One, 4(2):e4492. 2008.

      Yongjun Luo, Wenxiang Gao, Yuqi Gao, Sha Tang, Qingyuan Huang, Xiaoling Tan, Jian Chen, Taosheng Huang. Mitochondrial Genome Analysis of Ochotona curzoniae and Implication of Cytochrome c Oxidase in Hypoxic AdaptationMitochondrion, 8 (2008) 352–357. 2008.


      Shaohua Tang, Qimin Xu, Xueqin Xu, Xiaomei Yang, Xiaoqin Wang, Nancy Speck, Taosheng Huang. A novel missense mutation in the RUNX2 gene causes cleidocranial dysplasia in a Chinese family with hyperplastic nails. BMC Med Genet. 8:82. 2007.