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MengQing Xiang
MengQing Xiang

Professor of Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center Sun Yat-sen University Doctoral mentor, expert in the One-Thousand Talent Program. Dr. Xiang’s research group focuses on exploring the molecular mechanism and gene regulatory network of retinal cell specification, differentiation and survival, establishing animal models for retinal degeneration, as well as on inducing retinal/neural cells from stem cells and fibroblasts for retinal/neural repair and regeneration.

7 Jinsui Road, Guangzhou, China

Clinical and Basical Research:

His group is one of the leading world players in retinal and sensorineural development studies, has made multiple original and systematic contributions in these areas. For instance, they are among the first in the world to identify retinogenic transcription factors (e.g. Brn3b/Pou4f2 and Ath5) involved in retinal ganglion cell determination and differentiation and subsequently show that Brn3b ensures the fidelity of ganglion cell precursors by suppressing non-ganglion differentiation programs. These findings have provided not only an entry point for studying gene regulatory network of retinal ganglion cell development but also a useful molecular marker, which is widely used as the gold standard for identifying retinal ganglion cells in studies of retinal stem cells and glaucoma. They are also the first to discover the Foxn4-Ptf1a pathway in directing retinal progenitors towards amacrine and horizontal cells and then demonstrate that Foxn4 inhibits photoreceptor fates of retinal progenitors by activating Dll4-Notch signaling. More recently, Dr. Xiang’s group has been leveraging on retinogenic transcription factors to reprogram somatic cells into induced neural stem cells and mature neurons for in vitro disease modeling and potential cell replacement therapies of neurodegenerative diseases.

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Research Projects

Selected recent publications

1) Xiang, M., Zhou, L., Peng, Y.-W., Eddy, R. L., Shows, T. B., and Nathans, J. (1993) Brn-3b: a POU-domain gene expressed in a subset of retinal ganglion cells. Neuron 11:689-701.

2) Gan, L., Xiang, M.*, Zhou, L., Wagner, D., Klein, W. H., and Nathans, J. (1996) POU domain factor Brn-3b is required for the development of a large set of retinal ganglion cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93:3920-3925.  (*Co-first author).

3) Xiang, M., Gan, L., Zhou, L., Klein, W. H., and Nathans, J. (1996) Targeted deletion of the mouse POU domain gene Brn-3a causes a selective loss of neurons in the brainstem and trigeminal ganglion, uncoordinated limb movement, and impaired suckling. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 93:11950-11955.

4) Xiang, M., Zhou, H., and Nathans, J. (1996) Molecular biology of retinal ganglion cells. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 93:596-601.

5) Xiang, M., Gan, L., Li, D., Chen, Z.-Y., Zhou, L., O’Malley, B. W., Klein, W. H., and Nathans, J. (1997) Essential role of POU-domain factor Brn-3c in auditory and vestibular hair cell development.  Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 94:9445-9450.

6) Liu, W., Mo, Z., and Xiang, M. (2001) The Ath5 proneural genes function upstream of Brn3 POU domain transcription factor genes to promote retinal ganglion cell development. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 98:1649-1654.

7) Li, S., Mo, Z., Yang, X., Price, S. M., Shen, M. M., and Xiang, M. (2004) Foxn4 controls the genesis of amacrine and horizontal cells by retinal progenitors. Neuron 43:795-807

8) Li, S., Misra, K., Matise, M., and Xiang, M. (2005) Foxn4 acts synergistically with Mash1 to specify subtype identity of V2 interneurons in the spinal cord. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 102:10688-10693.

9) Jiang, H. and Xiang, M. (2009) Subtype specification of GABAergic amacrine cells by the orphan nuclear receptor Nr4a2/Nurr1. J. Neurosci. 29:10449-10459.

10) Jin, K., Jiang, H., Mo, Z., and Xiang, M. (2010) Early B-cell factors are required for specifying multiple retinal cell types and subtypes from postmitotic precursors. J. Neurosci. 30:11902-11916.

11) Luo, H., Jin, K., Xie, Z., Qiu, F., Li, S., Zou, M., Cai, L., Hozumi, K., Shima, D. T., and Xiang, M. (2012) Forkhead box N4 (Foxn4) activates Dll4-Notch signaling to suppress photoreceptor cell fates of early retinal progenitors. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 109:E553-E562.

12) Misra, K., Luo, H., Li, S., Matise, M., and Xiang, M. (2014) Asymmetric activation of Dll4-Notch signaling by Foxn4 and proneural factors activates BMP/TGFb signaling to specify V2b interneurons in the spinal cord. Development 141:187-198.

13) Hu, W., Li, S., Park, J.Y., Boppana, S., Ni, T., Li, M., Zhu, J., Tian, B., Xie, Z., and Xiang, M. (2017) Dynamic landscape of alternative polyadenylation during retinal development. Cell. Mol. Life Sci. 74:1721-1739.

14) Xiao, D., Liu, X., Zhang, M., Zou, M., Deng, Q., Sun, D., Bian, X., Cai, Y., Guo, Y., Liu, S., Li, S., Shiang, E., Zhong, H., Cheng, L., Xu, H., Jin, K., and Xiang, M. (2018) Direct reprogramming of fibroblasts into neural stem cells by single nonneural progenitor transcription factor Ptf1a. Nat. Commun. 9(1):p.2865

15) Wei, W., Liu, B., Jiang, H., Jin, K., and Xiang, M. (2018) Requirement of the Mowat-Wilson syndrome gene Zeb2 in the differentiation and maintenance of non-photoreceptor cell types during retinal development. Mol. Neurobiol. . (epub first).