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CUHK Researchers Reveal Pathogenesis of Atherosclerosis

Faculty of Medicine, The Chinese University of Hong Kong

A trans-regional research led by Prof. Yu HUANG of CUHK has revealed that YAP/TAZ, a transcriptional regulator in vascular endothelial cells, has close links to vascular inflammation and the formation of atherosclerosis. Based on the studies made on induced atherosclerotic mice, the research team has elucidated new therapeutic targets against atherosclerosis.

Integrin-YAP/TAZ-JNK cascade mediates atheroprotective effect of unidirectional shear flow.  Li Wang, Jiang-Yun Luo, Bochuan Li, Xiao Yu Tian, Li-Jing Chen, Yuhong Huang, Jian Liu, Dan Deng, Chi Wai Lau, Song Wan, Ding Ai, King-Lun Kingston Mak, Ka Kui Tong, Kin Ming Kwan, Nanping Wang, Jeng-Jiann Chiu, Yi Zhu & Yu Huang.  Nature (2016)

HKU Discovers Potential Treatments for Zika Virus Infection-Associated Complications

An abundant amount of Zika virus antigens was found in the testis of a mouse without interferon treatment. Photo from Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong.

Researchers from HKU established a new animal model for studying the pathogenesis, treatments and vaccines for Zika virus. The team led by Professor Yuen Kwok-yung, Dr Jasper Chan Fuk-woo and Dr Anna Zhang Jinxia found that immunosuppressed mice developed disseminated infection and inflammation in multiple organs, including the testis. The mice were effectively treated by recombinant type 1 interferons. The work has been published in EBioMedicine.

Zika Virus Infection in Dexamethasone-immunosuppressed Mice Demonstrating Disseminated Infection with Multi-organ Involvement Including Orchitis Effectively Treated by Recombinant Type I Interferons.

HKUST Researchers Find Phase Transition in Postsynaptic Densities


A research team led by Prof Mingjie Zhang at HKUST, has achieved a breakthrough that provides mechanistic insights into the causes that lead to various neuropsychiatric disorders such as autism, intellectual disorders and schizophrenia. Their studies of the SynGAP/PSD-95 complex formation unexpectedly found physical phase transition in synaptic signaling activity of neurons. The research findings were published in Cell on August 25, 2016.

Original Article: Phase Transition in Postsynaptic Densities Underlies Formation of Synaptic Complexes and Synaptic Plasticity. Source:

CUHK Researcher Uncovers Mechanism Explaining Why Fathers’ Mitochondrial DNA is Not Inherited to Offspring


In most animal species, mitochondrial DNA is inherited solely from the mother, unlike the nuclear DNA that is inherited from both parents. Why and how fathers’ mitochondrial DNA disappears from the zygotes remains a mystery to biologists. To solve the mystery, Professor Byung-Ho Kang at CUHK and Prof. Ding Xue’s group at the University of Colorado Boulder examined the mitochondria in the sperm of C. elegans using electron tomography. They found that the sperm mitochondria started self-degradation once a sperm penetrates an egg.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: Mitochondrial endonuclease G mediated breakdown of paternal mitochondria upon fertilization. Science (2016)

Zika fever and congenital Zika syndrome: An unexpected emerging arboviral disease

zika map

Despite having been discovered in Uganda for almost 60 years, <20 human cases of Zika infection were reported before 2007. The massive epidemics in the Pacific islands associated with the ZIKV Asian lineage in 2007 and 2013 were followed by explosive outbreaks in Latin America in 2015.

Zika fever and congenital Zika syndrome: An unexpected emerging arboviral disease
Jasper F.W. Chan, Garnet K.Y. Choi, Cyril C.Y. Yip, Vincent C.C. Cheng, Kwok-Yung Yuen, Journal of Infection, May 2016

Hong Kong enters two-week watch for Zika virus


Jasper Chan Fuk-woo, a microbiologist at the University of Hong Kong, explained that the virus usually stays in the blood for around two weeks.
“The risk of an outbreak in Hong Kong is not particularly high at the moment, as it is not unexpected that we will have imported cases,” he said. “But it’s more if the city sees its first local case. The coming two to three weeks will be very critical.”

Dr Randy Schekman Explains Secretion of Large Particles and miRNA at HKUST


Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine Dr Randy Schekman Explains Secretion of Large Particles and miRNA at HKUST 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series

Dr Schekman described a pathway that mediates secretion of specific microRNAs through exosomes. Exosomes are cell-derived vesicles and are implicated to play key roles in processes such as the creation of a pre-metastatic niche in the spread of tumor cells. Dr Schekman showed a biochemical approach to isolate a unique exosome species and identify specific microRNAs including miR-223 that are enriched in the isolated exsomes. Dr Schekman further described the underlying molecular mechanisms that regulate packaging of miR-223 into exosomes.


Nobel Laureate in Chemistry Prof William E Moerner Shares Insights on the Development of Super-resolution Microscopy at HKUST

William E Moerner

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) hosted the 25th Anniversary Distinguished Speakers Series on 16 May, featuring Prof William E Moerner, Nobel Laureate in Chemistry 2014.

In his talk titled “The Story of Single Molecules: How Precise High-resolution Spectroscopy at Low Temperatures Led to Super-resolution Microscopy and Beyond”, Prof Moerner shared with the audience today’s development of super-resolution microscopy since the 1980s when the first optical detection and spectroscopy of a single molecule in the condensed phase was observed.

“Super-resolution microscopy has opened up a new frontier in which biological structures can be observed in fixed and live cells with resolutions down to 20-40 nm and below. Importantly, in spite of the current focus on super-resolution, even in the “conventional” low concentration, single-molecule tracking regime where the motions of individual biomolecules are recorded rather than the shapes of extended structures, much can still be learned about biology,” Prof Moerner said.