Guilian Xu, Ph.D.

Guilian Xu, Ph.D.Associate Scientist

Department of Neuroscience
Center for Translational Research in Neurodegenerative Disease
University of Florida
1245 Center Drive
PO Box 100159
Gainesville, FL  32610-0159
Lab Phone: (352) 273-6667


1996-2001 Ph.D.
The University of Hong Kong
Hong Kong, China
1999-2001 Visiting Ph.D. Student Trainee
The Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland
2001-2004 Postdoctoral Fellow
The Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland

Key Words: Neurodegenerative disease, Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington disease, ALS, Transgenic Mouse, Proteomics

Research Summary & Focus:

My work in Dr. Borchelt’s lab is trying to find the underlying mechanisms of a few age related brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), Huntington disease (HD), Parkinson’s disease (PD) and motor neuron diseases (ALS). HD only has a familial form, while AD, PD, and ALS have both familial forms inherited from parents and sporadic forms that do not have a clear family link. From the clues learned through the familial cases, geneticists found the genes that cause these diseases, and then, we make genetically engineered mice that modify those genes to model the conditions. In most cases, the mice show the same symptoms as the patients. It is beneficial to study the mechanisms and try therapies on the disease models of mice.

All these disorders seem to have some common mechanisms because they are all age-related and have insoluble protein accumulation involved. I am testing a hypothesis, which works with “secondary misfolding” caused by protein homeostasis damage. It states, if a high level of one protein (usually with disease favored mutations) starts to lose its solubility and accumulates inside the cell, it can destroy the balance of other protein production, maintenance, and clearance. This triggers the dysfunction of many independent biological pathways simultaneously and eventually kill the cells. To study this, I use genetically engineered mice, cultured cells, and occasionally human autopsy tissues. I apply biochemistry and histology methods to generate data, and then, use the computer software to analyze or visualize the results.

The general skills that I specialize in include molecular biology, animal models, cell culture, protein chemistry, proteomics, histology, immunohistochemistry, mouse husbandry, mouse surgeries, embryonic microinjection to generate transgenic mice, microscopy, bioinformatics, data analysis, data visualization, database, and lab management.


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