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Pathology & Immunology

Houston, Texas

Pathology and Immunology
Pathology & Immunology
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Dongfang Liu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

1102 Bates St., Feigin Center 330, Houston, TX 77030


Ph.D. - Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology (2001-2005)


Senior Research Scientist - Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Harvard University (2011-2012)

Research Fellow - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (2010-2011)

Post-doctoral Fellow - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health (2005-2010)

Research Interest

Human cytotoxic lymphocytes include natural killer (NK) cells and cytotoxic T lymphocytes (CTL). We are interested in studying the biology of human cytotoxic lymphocytes using molecular, biochemical, and single molecule imaging strategies. We are applying live cell imaging and biophysical approaches to study the signaling and vesicular traffic at the immunological synapses and human lymphocytes dysfunction in chronic infectious diseases such as HIV and HIV-related malignancy.

Specific projects are as follows:

Mechanisms controlling the bidirectional vesicular traffic at cytotoxic immunological synapses.

Previous work has demonstrated that cytotoxic immunological synapses include a central region of tightly coupled, bidirectional vesicular traffic (Liu, et al., Immunity, 2009). The molecular machinery that confines bidirectional vesicular components to the center of cytotoxic immune synapses remains unclear. The ongoing effects in the laboratory are to determine the signaling components in the control of the bidirectional vesicular traffic at immunological synapses.

The role of Crk in immune response

An essential control of NK cytotoxicity is provided by inhibitory receptors expressing on NK cells. A recent study demonstrated that HLA-E (a ligand for inhibitory receptor, CD94-NKG2A) alone induces Crk (chicken tumor virus no.10 regulator of kinase) phosphorylation in NK cells (Liu et al., Immunity, 2012). The exact functions of Crk in regulation of immune response have not been explored. We are interested in the role of Crk in immune response.

Selected Publications:

EO. Long, HS. Kim, Dongfang Liu, ME. Peterson, S. Rajagopalan. Controlling NK cell responses: integration of signals for activation and inhibition. Annual Review of Immunology. 2013, 31: 227-258. (PMID: 23516982)

Dongfang Liu, ME. Peterson, EO. Long. The adaptor protein Crk controls activation and inhibition of natural killer cells. Immunity. 2012, 36(4): 600-11. (PMID: 22464172)

H. Chen*, ZM. Ndhlovu*, Dongfang Liu, LC. Porter, JW. Fang, S. Darko, MA. Brockman, T. Miura, ZL. Brumme, A. Schneidewind, A. Piechocka-Trocha, KT. Cesa, J. Sela, I. Toth, F. Pereyra, XG. Yu, DC. Douek, DE. Kaufmann, TM. Allen, BD. Walker. T cell receptor clonotypes modulate the protective effect of HLA class I alleles in HIV-1 infection. Nature Immunology. 2012, 13 (7): 691-700. (PMID: 22683743)

Dongfang Liu, JA. Martina, XS. Wu, JA. Hammer III, EO. Long. Two modes of lytic granule fusion during degranulation by natural killer cells. Immunology and Cell Biology. 2011, 1-11. (PMID: 21483445)

Dongfang Liu*, T Meckel*, EO. Long. Distinct role of Rab27a in granule movement at the plasma membrane and in the cytosol of NK cells. PLoS ONE. 2010, 5(9), e12870. (PMID: 20877725)

CC. Gross, JA. Brzostowski, Dongfang Liu, EO. Long. Tethering of ICAM on target cells is required for LFA-1-dependent NK cell adhesion and granule polarization. Journal of Immunology. 2010, 185, 2918-26. (PMID: 20675589)

Dongfang Liu, YT. Bryceson, T. Meckel, G. Vasiliver-Shamis, ML. Dustin, and EO. Long. Integrin-dependent organization and bidirectional vesicular traffic at cytotoxic immune synapses. Immunity. 2009, 31(1): 99-109 (Cover Article). (PMID: 19592272)

Dongfang Liu*, L. Xu*, F. Yang, D. Li, F. Gong, T. Xu. Rapid biogenesis and sensitization of secretory lysosomes in NK cells mediated by target cell recognition. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2005, 102, 123-127. (PMID: 15618404)

J. Zhou*, Dongfang Liu*, C. Liu, Z. Kang, X. Shen, Y. Chen, T. Xu, C. Jiang. Glucocorticoids inhibit degranulation of mast cells in allergic asthma via nongenomic mechanism. Allergy. 2008, 63, 1177-1185. (PMID: 18699934)

Dongfang Liu, Ph.D.

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