Molecular Oncology & Biomarkers

My areas of research include cancer metastasis, animal disease models and drug discovery. In my laboratory, we utilize zebrafish and mice to study molecular mechanisms of cancer metastasis, as well as drug actions and delivery, with the goal of developing better therapeutics to treat human diseases, particularly in advanced cancer. My ongoing projects seek to shift current research and clinical practice paradigms, which will directly impact the future development of effective therapy for cancer patients.

Central mechanisms of metastasis

Metastasis is the most lethal attribute of a cancer. My laboratory is studying the underlying mechanisms associated with the specific regulators and events against metastatic diseases. More in-depth studies are focused on providing evidence as to how autophagic survival mechanisms maintain an active metabolic state for the most aggressive and metastatic cells in the tumor microenvironment, and how transcriptional and epigenetic regulation cooperate to activate autophagic and metastatic signaling. We also use zebrafish and mouse cancer models to dissect how tumor cells cross talk with their immunological microenvironment during the early stage of cancer development. This body of work will improve our understanding of metastasis in general and potentially provide a molecular basis to consider targeting the central mechanism of metastasis to combat cancer. 

Drug discovery and delivery systems

Tracking the genetic pathway of a disease offers a powerful, new approach to drug discovery. Our research is not limited by repurposing FDA-approved anticancer drugs and illustrating mechanisms of action of individual agents or combinations. We also focus on using a multidisciplinary approach to uncover novel “druggable” anticancer nodes and develop potential treatments targeting advanced cancer at the molecular, cellular, tissue and even whole organism levels. For improving the specificity, effectiveness, and bioavailability of anticancer drugs, we tightly work with biochemists and biophysicists to develop innovative drug delivery systems with multiple extracellular and intracellular barriers to release promising drugs at the site of action more efficiently and selectively.

Gao L, Wang X, Tang Y, Huang S, Hu CA, Teng Y. FGF19 signaling contributes to resistance of hepatocellular carcinoma to sorafenib. J Exp Clin Cancer Res 2017, 36(1):8.

Teng Y, Cai Y, Pi W, Gao L, Shay C. Augmentation of the Anticancer Activity of CYT997 in Human Prostate Cancer by Inhibiting Src Activity. J Hematol Oncol 2017, 10(1):118.

Cai Y, Li J, Zhang Z, Chen J, Zhu Y, Li R, Chen J, Gao L, Liu R, Teng Y. Zbtb38 is a Novel Targets for Spinal Cord Injury. Oncotarget doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.17487

Fang D, Chen H, Zhu JY, Wang W, Teng Y, et al. Epithelial-Mesenchymal Transition of Ovarian Cancer Cells Is Sustained by Rac1 through Simultaneous Activation of MEK1/2 and Src Signaling Pathways. Oncogene 2017, 36(11):1546-1558.

Xie X, Tang S, Cai Y, Pi W, Deng L, Wu G, Chavanieu A, Teng Y. Suppression of breast cancer metastasis by the inactivation of ADP-ribosylation factor 1. Oncotarget 2016, doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.11185.

Shi L, Zhang W, Zou F, Mei L, Wu G, Teng Y. KLHL21, a novel gene that contributes to risk for hepatocellular carcinoma. BMC Cancer 2016, 16(1):815.

Teng Y, Qin H, Bahassan A, Bendzunas NG, Kennedy EJ, et al. The WASF3-CYFIP-NCKAP1 complex is essential for breast cancer metastasis. Cancer Res 2016, 76(17):5133-42.

Teng Y, Abdulaziz B, Dong D, Hanold LE, Ren X, et al. Targeting the WASF3-CYFIP1 complex using stapled peptides leads to loss of invasion in cancer cells. Cancer Res 2016, 76:965-973.

Davis J, Guo J, Huang W, Huang S, Teng Y, et al. ARF1 promotes prostate tumorigenesis via targeting oncogenic MAPK signaling. Oncotarget 2016, doi: 10.18632/oncotarget.9405.

Teng Y, Pi W, Wang Y, Cowell JK. WASF3 provides the conduit to facilitate invasion and metastasis in breast cancer cells through HER2/HER3 signaling. Oncogene 2016, doi:10.1038/onc.2015.527.

Wang Z, Kim J, Teng Y, Ding HF, Zhang JR, et al. Loss of ATF3 promotes hormone-induced prostate carcinogenesis and the emergence of CK5+CK8+ epithelial cells. Oncogene 2016, 35(27):3555-64.

Teng Y, Ren X, Li H, Shull A, Kim J, et al. Mitochondrial ATAD3A combines with GRP78 to regulate the WASF3 metastasis-promoting protein. Oncogene 2016, 35(3):333-43.

Cai Y, Pi W, Sivaprakasam S, Zhu X, Zhang M, Chen J, Makala L, Lu C, Wu J, Teng Y, et al. UFBP1, a key component of the Ufm1 conjugation system, is essential for ufmylation-mediated regulation of erythroid development. PLoS Genet 2015, 11(11):e1005643.

Teng Y, Mei Y, Hawthorn L, Cowell JK. WASF3 regulates the inactivation of miR-200 by ZEB1 through suppression of KISS1 leading to increased invasiveness in breast cancer cells. Oncogene 2014, 33(2):203-11.

Teng Y, Xie X, Walker S, Mumm JS, Cowell JK. Zebrafish as a model for evaluating metastatic potential of human cancer cells. BMC Cancer 2013, 13(1):453.

Teng Y, Ghoshal P, Ngoka L, Mei Y, Cowell JK. Critical role of the WASF3 gene in JAK2/STAT3 regulation of cancer cell invasion. Carcinogenesis 2013, 34(9):1994-9.

Teng Y, Ngoka L, Mei Y, Lesoon L, Cowell JK. HSP90 and HSP70 are essential for stabilization and activation of the WASF3 metastasis promoting protein. J Biol Chem 2012, 287(13):10051-9.

Teng Y, Liu MY, Cowell JK. Functional interrelationship between the WASF3 and KISS1 metastasis associated genes in breast cancer cells. Int J Cancer 2011, 129(12):2825-35.

Teng Y, Xie X, Walker S, Saxena M, Kozlowski DJ, et al. Loss of zebrafish lgi1b leads to hydrocephalus and sensitization to pentylenetetrazol induced seizure-like behavior. PLoS ONE 2011; 6(9):e24596.

Teng Y, Xie X, Walker S, Rempala G, Kozlowski DJ, et al. Knockdown of zebrafish Lgi1a results in abnormal development, brain defects and a seizure-like behavioral Phenotype. Hum Mol Genet 2010, 19(22):4409-20.

Prostate Cancer Idea Development Award, Department of Defense - 2014

Basic Science Pilot Award, Georgia Cancer Center - 2013 


photo of Liwei Lang, PhD
Liwei Lang, PhD

Postdoctoral Fellow
Lixia Gao, PhD 

Research Assistant 
Xiangdong Zhao, MD 

Research Assistant 
Parth Thakkar 

David Chyan