Liu Lab

Shihui Liu, MD, PhD
Associate Professor of Medicine
Division of Infectious Diseases

Our lab is interested in modifying bacterial protein toxins to design and develop novel therapies for infectious diseases, cancer and other age-related diseases.

Shihui Liu Lab

Lab Focus

We study several medically important bacterial virulence factors, including anthrax toxins, in bacterial pathogenesis. Through investigating the interactions of these protein toxins and their mammalian hosts, we are interested in discovering the toxins’ molecular targets and understanding the molecular mechanisms of pathophysiology. We study how these toxins alter key signal transduction pathways, in particular the RAS and ERK pathways, in cancer cells and tumor stromal cells, and we use the knowledge obtained to design and develop novel bacterial toxin-based anti-tumor drugs with high tumor specificity. We are also interested in using this approach to design and develop novel biological-based therapeutics to selectively eliminate senescent cells.

What question I’d like to answer

Can we specially target certain cell types, like cancer or senescent cells, through re-engineering potent, nature-evolved bacterial toxins?
Faculty Bio

Shihui received his M.D. from Beijing Medical University (now Peking University Health Science Center). Shihui also obtained a M.S. in Infection and Immunity from the Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Beijing Institute of Biotechnology. After postdoctoral study at the National Institutes of Health, he became a Staff Scientist at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH, in Bethesda Maryland. He moved to the Aging Institute at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in 2018. Shihui is an Associate Professor of Medicine at the Division of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine.

Read more: Department of Medicine Faculty Profile

Selected Publications

Liu S*, Bachran C, Gupta P, Miller-Randolph S, Wang H, Crown D, Zhang Y, Wein AN, Singh R, Fattah R, Leppla SH. Diphthamide modification on eukaryotic elongation factor 2 is needed to assure fidelity of mRNA translation and mouse development. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Aug 21;109(34):13817-22. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1206933109. Epub 2012 Aug 6. PMID: 22869748; PMCID: PMC3427129.

Liu S*, Zhang Y, Moayeri M, Liu J, Crown D, Fattah RJ, Wein AN, Yu ZX, Finkel T, Leppla SH. Key tissue targets responsible for anthrax-toxin-induced lethality. Nature. 2013 Sep 5;501(7465):63-8. doi: 10.1038/nature12510. Epub 2013 Aug 28. PMID: 23995686; PMCID: PMC4080305.

Liu S*, Liu J, Ma Q, Cao L, Fattah RJ, Yu Z, Bugge TH, Finkel T, Leppla SH. Solid tumor therapy by selectively targeting stromal endothelial cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2016 Jul 12;113(28):E4079-87. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1600982113. Epub 2016 Jun 29. PMID: 27357689; PMCID: PMC4948345.

Liu J, Zuo Z, Sastalla I, Liu C, Jang JY, Sekine Y, Li Y, Pirooznia M, Leppla SH, Finkel T, Liu S*. Sequential CRISPR-Based Screens Identify LITAF and CDIP1 as the Bacillus cereus Hemolysin BL Toxin Host Receptors. Cell Host Microbe. 2020 Sep 9;28(3):402-410.e5. doi: 10.1016/j.chom.2020.05.012. Epub 2020 Jun 15. PMID: 32544461; PMCID: PMC7486266. (available on 2021-09-09).

Liu J, Zuo Z, Zou M, Finkel T, and Liu S*. Identification of the transcription factor Miz1 as an essential regulator of diphthamide biosynthesis using a CRISPR-mediated genome-wide screen. PLoS Genet. 2020 Oct 15;16(10):e1009068. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1009068. PMID: 33057331; PMCID: PMC7591051.

(*Corresponding author)

Current Lab Members
Zehua Zuo, MD, PhD, Research Scientist
Zhihao Sun, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow
Michael C. Ewing, MS, Research Specialist
Research Support