Faculty Profile

Wei Xu
7459 WIMRII, 1111 Highland Ave
(608) 265-5540
Training Programs
Research Description
Xu's laboratory is exploring the protective roles of environmental and nutritional estrogenic compounds in mammals for breast cancer prevention and treatment. Estrogen receptors (ERs) exist in two forms, ERalpha and ERbeta, which have opposing roles in cell proliferation. Estrogenic compounds can control balance between mammary cell proliferation and differentiation via stimulating the formation of different forms of ER dimers. Dr. Xu has developed the Bioluminescent Resonance Energy Transfer (BRET) assays for detecting in vivo homodimerization and heterodimerization of ERalpha and ERbeta induced by estrogenic compounds. These assays have been optimized for high throughput screening, which leads to identification of novel estrogenic compounds capable of differentially modulating these dimer forms. Biological functions of these estrogenic compounds are currently being investigated in cell-based and breast cancer mouse models. Dr. Xu's laboratory has also employed biochemical and functional genomic approaches, as well as mouse genetics to decipher the contribution of histone arginine methylation to the epigenetic control of cancer cells. The major focus of Xu lab is on a protein arginine (R) methyltransferase CARM1/PRMT4, a nuclear hormone receptor co-activator. Using Zinc Finger Nuclease to knock out CARM1 in a number of cancer cell lines, Dr. Xu has identified a number of non-histone substrates for CARM1 and elucidated the function of protein arginine methylation in cancer initiation and progression.
Selected Publications
•Wu, J., and Xu, W. Histone H3R17me2a Mark Recruits Human RNA Polymerase-Associated Factor 1 Complex to Activate Transcription. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 109: 5675-5680, 2012. PMCID: PMC3326481
•Wang, L., Zhao, Z., Meyer, M. B., Saha, S., Yu, M., Guo, A., Wisinski, K. B., Huang, W., Cai, W., Pike, J. W., Yuan, M., Ahlquist, P., and Xu, W. CARM1 Methylates Chromatin Remodeling Factor BAF155 to Enhance Tumor Progression and Metastasis. Cancer Cell, 25(1): 21-36, 2014. PMCID: PMC4004525