Professional Profile

image for Yang, Jing

Yang, Jing

Professor, Department of Comparative Biosciences
2001 S. Lincoln
Urbana, IL  61802


  • BSc, Biochemistry, University of Sichuan, Sichuan, China
  • PHD, Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences

Research Interests

My laboratory studies maternal control of early embryonic development and functions of PP2A in operating signaling pathways.

I.   PP2A-dependent reversible protein phosphorylation in controlling signaling pathways

PP2A is one of the most abundantly expressed Ser/Thr protein phosphatases, making up to 0.1% of the total cellular protein in most cells. PP2A is a heterotrimer. The substrate specificity, subcellular localization, and catalytic activity of the holoenzyme are controlled by PP2A regulatory subunits. My laboratory has a long-standing interest in studying B56 regulatory subunits of PP2A. We have been identifying novel substrates of B56-containing PP2As and studying how B56-containing PP2As regulate the functions of their substrates. We are particularly interested in the molecular mechanisms by which B56-containing PP2As regulate the Wnt and Hedgehog pathways.

II.   Maternal control of early embryonic development

Following fertilization, the zygotic genome is globally silenced and, for a period of time, embryonic development is controlled by maternal gene products. This global repression is gradually released during the maternal-to-zygotic transition (MZT). After the MZT, embryonic development becomes under the exclusive control of the zygotic genome. During Xenopus development, zygotic genome activation occurs at the mid-blastula stage in the somatic cell lineages. In the germline, however, the zygotic genome remains quiescent till the early neurula stage. Silencing the genome of the primordial germ cells (PGCs) during blastula and gastrula stages is critically important, because it prevents PGCs from responding to signals that specify somatic cell fates, hence it is essential for maintaining the totipotency of PGCs. Although this mechanism is highly conserved among vertebrate and invertebrate species, it is largely unclear how the MZT is regulated during the germline development. Currently, we are studying roles of Dead End1 (Dnd1) and other maternal RNA-binding proteins in controlling the MZT during Xenopus germline development.

show listBiography

  • Department of Biology, University of Sichuan, Sichuan, China (1988-1992)
  • Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences (1992-1998)
  • Postdoctoral Fellow, Shanghai Institute of Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (1998-2000)
  • Postdoctoral Research Associate, HHMI, University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine (2000-2004)
  • Assistant Professor, Center for Molecular and Human Genetics, Department of Pediatrics and the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, the Ohio State University College of Medicine (2004-2011)
  • Associate Professor, Center for Molecular and Human Genetics, Department of Pediatrics and the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital, the Ohio State University College of Medicine (2011)
  • Associate Professor, Department of Comparative Biosciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2011)

show listTeaching Statement

Teaching is to give students training so that they can learn basic skills for analytical and critical thinking. In addition to reciting facts to students, teaching is a complex interplay whereby concepts and ideas are revealed and explored in a particular context. It is extremely important to teach students the philosophy, the rationale, and the approach.

show listSelected Publications

  • Tao Q, Yang J, Mei W, Geng X, Ding X, (1999). Cloning and analysing of 5 flanking region of Xenopus organizer gene noggin.  Cell Research, 9(3): 209-216.
  • Yang J, Bian W, Gao X, Chen L, Jing N, (2000).  Nestin expression during mouse eye and lens development. Mech Dev., 94(1-2): 287-91.
  • Yan Y, Yang J, Bian W, Jing N, (2001). Mouse nestin protein localizes in growth cones of P19 neurons and cerebellar granule cells. Neurosci Lett., 302(2-3): 89-92.
  • Yang J, Cheng L, Yan Y, Bian W, Tomooka Y, Shiurba R, Jing N, (2001). Mouse nestin cDNA cloning and protein expression in the cytoskeleton of transfected cells. Biochim Biophys Acta., 1520(3): 251-54.
  • Gao X, Bian W, Yang J, Tnag K, Kitani H, Atsumi T, Jing N, (2001).A role of N-cadherin in neuronal differentiation of embryonic carcinoma P19 cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun., 284(5): 1098-103.
  • Mei W, Yang J, Tao Q, Geng X, Rupp RA, Ding X, (2001). An interferon regulatory factor-like binding element restricts Xmyf-5 expression in the posterior somites during Xenopus myogenesis. FEBS Lett., 505(1): 47-52.
  • Tan C, Deardorff MA, Saint-Jeannet JP, Yang J, Arzoumanian A, Klein PS, (2001). Kermit, a frizzled interacting protein, regulates frizzled 3 signaling in neural crest development. Development, 128(19): 3665-74.
  • Tang K, Yang J, Gao X, Wang C, Liu L, Kitani H, Atsumi T, Jing N, (2002). Wnt-1 promotes neuronal differentiation and inhibits gliogenesis in P19 cells. Biochem Biophys Res Commun., 293(1): 167-73.
  • Yang J, Mei W, Otto A, Xiao L, Tao Q, Geng X, Rupp RA, Ding X, (2002). Repression through a distal TCF-3 binding site restricts Xenopus myf-5 expression in gastrula mesoderm. Mech. Dev., 115(1-2): 79-89.
  • Yang J., Tan C, Darken RS, Wilson PA, Klein PS, (2002). β-catenin/Tcf regulated transcription prior to the midblastula transition. Development, 129: 5743-5752.
  • Yang J, Wu J, Tan C, Klein PS, (2003). PP2A:B56 epsilon is required for Wnt/β-catenin signaling during embryonic development. Development, 130: 5569-5578. 
  • Wu J, Yang J, Klein PS, (2005). Neural crest induction by the canonical Wnt pathway can be dissociated from anterior-posterior neural patterning in Xenopus. Dev. Biol., 279(1): 220-32.
  • Rorick A, Mei W, Liette N, Phiel C, El-Hodiri H, Yang J, (2007). PP2A:B56 epsilon is required for eye induction and eye field separation. Dev. Biol., 302: 477-493.
  • Yu L, Liu H, Yan M, Yang J, Long F, Muneoka K, Chen Y, (2007). Shox2 is required for chondrocyte proliferation and maturation in proximal limb skeleton. Dev. Biol., 306 (2): 549-59.
  • Fan J, Akabane H, Zheng X, Zhou X, Zhang L, Liu Q, Zhang YL, Yang J, Zhu GZ, (2007). Male germ cell specific expression of a novel Patched-domain containing gene Ptchd3. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun., 363(3): 757-761.
  • Huang Y, Fan J, Yang J, Zhu GZ, (2008). Suppressed expression of GPR56 protein in human pancreatic cancer cells. Mol. Cell. Biochem., 308(1-2): 133-139.
  • Yu X, He F, Zhang T, Espinoa-Lewis RA, Lin L, Yang J, Chen Y, (2008). Cerberus functions as a BMP agonist to synergistically induce Nodal expression during left-right axis determination in the chick embryo. Dev. Dyn., 237: 3613-3623.
  • Shi J, Mei W, Yang J, (2008). Heme metabolism enzymes are dynamically expressed during Xenopus embryonic development. BioCell, 32(3): 259-263.
  • Jin Z, Shi J, Saraf A, Mei W, Zhu G, Strack S, Yang, J, (2009). The 48 kDa alternative translation isoform of PP2A:B56 epsilon is required for Wnt signaling during midbrain-hindbrain boundary formation. J Biol. Chem., 284(11): 7190-7200.
  • Espinoza-Lewis RA, Yu L, He F, Liu H, Tang R, Shi J, Sun X, Martin JF, Wang D, Yang J, Chen Y, (2009). Shox2 is essential for the differentiation of cardiac pacemaker cells by repressing Nkx2-5. Dev. Biol., 327: 376-385.
  • Yang J, Chan C, Jiang B, Yu X, Chen Y, Barnard J, Mei W, (2009). hnRNP l inhibits Notch signaling and regulates intestinal epithelial homeostasis in the zebrafish. Plos Genetics, 5(2): e1000363.
  • Yu X, Espinoza-Lewis R, Sun C, Lin L, He F, Xiong W, Yang J, Wang A, Chen Y, (2010). Overexpression of Constitutively Active BMP Receptor lB in Mouse Skin Causes Ichthyosis vulgaris-like Disease. Cell and Tissue Res., 342(3): 401-410.
  • Jin Z, Wallace L, Harper SQ, and Yang J, (2010). PP2A:B56 epsilon, a substrate of caspase-3, regulates p53-dependent and -independent apoptosis during development. J Biol. Chem., 285(45): 3493-34502.
  • Yang J and Phiel C, (2010). Functions of B56-containing PP2As in major developmental and cancer signaling pathways. Life Sciences, 87: 659-666.
  • Wallace L, Garwick S, Mei W, Belayew A, Coppee F, Ladner KJ, Guttridge D, Yang J, and Harper SQ, (2011). DUX4, a candidate gene for facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy, causes p53-dependent myopthy in vivo. Ann Neurol., 69(3): 540-552.
  • Skirkanich J, Luxardi J, Yang J, Kodjabachian L, and Klein PS, (2011). An essential role for transcription before the MBT in Xenopus laevis. Dev. Biol., 357(2): 478-91.
  • Jin Z, Mei W, Strack S, Jia J and Yang J, (2011). The antagnostic action of B56-containing protein phosphatase 2As and casein kinase 2 controls the phosphorylation and Gli turnover function of Daz interacting protein 1. J Biol. Chem., 286(42): 36171-36179.
  • Liu A, Liu Y, Jin Z, Hu Q, Lin L, Jou D, Yang J, Xu Z, Wang H, Li C, Lin J (2012). XZH-5 Inhibits STAT3 Phosphorylation and Enhances the Cytotoxicity of Chemotherapeutic Drugs in Human Breast and Pancreatic Cancer Cells. PLoS ONE 7(10): e46624
  • Mei W, Jin Z, Lai F, Schwend T, Houston DW, King ML, Yang J (2013). Maternal Dead-End1 is required for vegetal cortical microtubule assembly during Xenopus axis specification. Development, 140(11): 2334-2344.
  • Schwend T, Jin Z, Jiang K, Mitchell BJ, Jia J, Yang J (2013). Stabilization of speckle-type POZ protein (Spop) by Daz Interacting Protein 1 (Dzip1) is essential for Gli turnover and the proper output of Hedgehog signaling. J Biol. Chem., 288(45): 32809-32820.
  • Jin Z, Chung JW, Mei W, Strack S, He C, Lau G, Yang J (2015). Regulation of nuclear-cytoplasmic shuttling and function of Family with sequence similarity 13, member A (Fam13a) by B56-containing PP2As and Akt. Mol. Biol. Cell, 26(6): 1160-1173.

show listCurrent Projects

  • Reversible protein phosphorylation in operating signaling pathways
  • Maternal control of Xenopus germ cell development 

show listGrants

  • Regulation of Hedgehog signaling at the level of Gli (NIH -- 1R01GM093217)    
    Dnd1 and repression of transcription in primordial germ cells (NIH -- 1R01GM111816)

show listHonors and Awards

  • Joseph C. Touchstone Award, Center for Research on Reproduction and Women's Health, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.
  • 2003 Holtzer Prize, Department of Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine.

show listProfessional Affiliations

  • Member of the Society for Developmental Biology


    Member of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology


  • Member of the American Society for Cell Biology