Zhihui Liu, Ph.D.

Zhihui Liu, Ph.D.
Staff Scientist

Team Member of:

Dr. Liu’s research interest is in the field of cancer biology, in particular to obtain an understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in neuroblastoma (NB) tumorigenesis and progression. He has been focusing on characterizing tumor suppressor genes in NB, and has identified that a chromosome 1p36 gene, CASZ1, is a tumor suppressor in NB. Dr. Liu is also working on high-throughput screening of genetic and epigenetic alterations in neuroblastoma to identify novel tumor suppressors, oncogenes and therapeutic targets. The long-term goal is to develop novel therapies for NB patients.

Areas of Expertise

1) cancer biology, 2) pediatric cancer neuroblastoma, 3) transcription factors,
4) tumor suppressors, 5) epigenetics, 6) bioinformatics

Contact Info

Zhihui Liu, Ph.D.
Center for Cancer Research
National Cancer Institute
Building 10-CRC, Room 1W-5816
Bethesda, MD 20892-1105
Ph: 240-858-3857

Dr. Liu’s research interest is in the field of cancer biology, in particular, to obtain an understanding of the molecular mechanisms involved in neuroblastoma (NB) tumorigenesis and progression. His studies focus on the genetic and epigenetic alterations that occur in NB. His current research focuses on a chromosome 1p36 gene, CASZ1, which is lost through loss of heterozygosity (LOH) and epigenetic silencing in NB. Dr. Liu identified that the zinc finger transcription factor CASZ1 is a tumor suppressor in NB.  His structure and function study of CASZ1 defined the critical domains that regulate the gene’s transcription, control its subcellular localization, and mediate its tumor suppression activity. Additional function and molecular mechanism studies of CASZ1 are ongoing.  Dr. Liu’s current research involves using different types of cancer cells, CASZ1 knockout mouse embryonic stem cells, and a CASZ1 knockout mouse model. In recent studies using a CASZ1 knockout mouse model, Dr. Liu discovered that CASZ1 is a novel congenital heart disease gene, which is essential for mammalian heart development. Moreover, Dr. Liu is using cutting-edge techniques to screen for genetic or epigenetic alterations that contribute to NB tumorigenesis to help develop novel therapies, which could prove beneficial for neuroblastoma patients whose disease is unresponsive to current treatments.

NIH Scientific Focus Areas:
Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Genetics and Genomics, Molecular Biology and Biochemistry

Selected Publications

  1. Liu Z, Li W, Ma X, Ding N, Spallotta F, Southon E, Tessarollo L, Gaetano C, Mukoyama YS, Thiele CJ
    J. Biol. Chem. 289: 29801-16, 2014. [ Journal Article ]
  2. Liu Z, Rader J, He S, Phung T, Thiele CJ.
    Cell Cycle. 12: 2210-8, 2013. [ Journal Article ]
  3. Virden RA, Thiele CJ, Liu Z.
    Mol. Cell. Biol . 32: 1518-28 , 2012. [ Journal Article ]
  4. Wang C, Liu Z, Woo CW, Li Z, Wang L, Wei JS, Marquez VE, Bates SE, Jin Q, Khan J, Ge K, Thiele CJ.
    Cancer Res. 72: 315-24, 2012. [ Journal Article ]
  5. Liu Z, Yang X, Li Z, McMahon C, Sizer C, Barenboim-Stapleton L, Bliskovsky V, Mock B, Ried T, London WB, Maris J, Khan J, Thiele CJ .
    Cell Death Differ. 18: 1174-83, 2011. [ Journal Article ]

Dr. Zhihui Liu received his B.S. in biochemistry from Nanjing University in 1995. From 1995 to 1999, Dr. Liu worked for a pharmaceutical company as a research associate. He received his Ph.D. degree from the Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences in 2004. After graduation Dr. Liu joined the Pediatric Oncology Branch of the NCI as a visiting fellow and research fellow in Dr. Carol Thiele’s laboratory. He currently works with Dr. Thiele in the Pediatric Oncology Branch as a staff scientist. Dr. Liu won a NCI Director’s Intramural Innovation Award in 2010.