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Jianrong Li

Associate Professor

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Phone: (979) 862-7155

Mailstop: 4458

Department: VIBS

Photo of Li, Jianrong


  • Ph.D. Biochemistry, University of Hawaii 1997
  • M.S. Organic Chemistry, Beijing Normal University 1991
  • B.S. Chemistry, Beijing Normal University 1988


  • Cell Biology
  • Toxicology
  • Neuroscience

Interdisciplinary Activities

  • Neuroscience
  • Toxicology

Scholarly Interests

The central goal of our research is to understand how oligodendroglial development in the mammalian central nervous system is regulated in health and disease. Specifically, we are interested in molecular and cellular mechanisms involved in oligodendrocyte death as occurring in white matter injuries, such as multiple sclerosis and cerebral palsy. Because in most CNS diseases, multiple cell types including neurons, glial cells and vascular cells are involved via complex interactions, we investigate, at the cellular and molecular level, the role of microglia and astrocytes in modulating oligodendrocyte development, differentiation and cell death. We use a variety of methods including primary cell cultures and transgenic animals to elucidate signal transduction pathways in mediating oligodendrocyte injury. The second focus of our laboratory is to elucidate the signals that promote oligodendrocyte survival and regeneration/remyelination after injury, and to study cell-cell interactions that regulate remyelination. These studies should contribute significantly to our understanding of mechanisms of oligodendrocyte development and injury, and provide new clues for potential prevention and treatment of human white matter diseases. Our third research interest is to explore novel roles of vitamin K in the developing brain. Vitamin K is a cofactor for a single known enzyme, gamma-glutamylcarboxylase that catalyzes the posttranslational conversion of glutamic acid to gamma-carboxyglutamic acid in vitamin K-dependent proteins, such as Gas6. It prevents oxidative injury to oligodendrocytes and neurons. Several lines of evidence suggest an as yet identified role of vitamin K in the developing brain. We will use primary cell cultures and transgenic mice to investigate the physiological roles of vitamin K and the carboxylase in the developing brain.


Multi-compartment neuron-glia co-culture platform for localized CNS axon-glia interaction study.
Park J, Koito H, Li J* and Han A*
Lab Chip. 2012 Sept; 12:3296-3304.
Astrocytes promote TNF-mediated toxicity to oligodendrocyte precursors.
Kim S, Steelman AJ, Koito H, Li J
J Neurochem. 2011 Jan; 116(1):53-66.
RIP1 kinase mediates arachidonic acid-induced oxidative death of oligodendrocyte precursors.
Kim S, Dayani L, Rosenberg PA, Li J
Int J Physiol Pathophysiol Pharmacol. 2010 2(2):137-47.
Micro-macro hybrid soft-lithography master (MMHSM) fabrication for lab-on-a-chip applications.
Park J, Li J, Han A
Biomed Microdevices. 2010 Apr; 12(2):345-51.
The oligodendrocyte-specific G protein-coupled receptor GPR17 is a cell-intrinsic timer of myelination.
Chen Y, Wu H, Wang S, Koito H, Li J, Ye F, Hoang J, Escobar SS, Gow A, Arnett HA, Trapp BD, Karandikar NJ, Hsieh J, Lu QR
Nat Neurosci. 2009 Nov; 12(11):1398-406.
Preparation of rat brain aggregate cultures for neuron and glia development studies.
Koito H, Li J
J Vis Exp. 2009 Sep; (31).
A multi-compartment CNS neuron-glia Co-culture microfluidic platform.
Park J, Koito H, Li J, Han A
J Vis Exp. 2009 Sep; (31).
Microfluidic compartmentalized co-culture platform for CNS axon myelination research.
Park J, Koito H, Li J, Han A
Biomed Microdevices. 2009 Dec; 11(6):1145-53.
Vitamin K prevents oxidative cell death by inhibiting activation of 12-lipoxygenase in developing oligodendrocytes.
Li J, Wang H, Rosenberg PA
J Neurosci Res. 2009 Jul; 87(9):1997-2005.
Tumor necrosis factor alpha mediates lipopolysaccharide-induced microglial toxicity to developing oligodendrocytes when astrocytes are present.
Li J, Ramenaden ER, Peng J, Koito H, Volpe JJ, Rosenberg PA
J Neurosci. 2008 May; 28(20):5321-30.
Isolation and culture of rat and mouse oligodendrocyte precursor cells.
Chen Y, Balasubramaniyan V, Peng J, Hurlock EC, Tallquist M, Li J, Lu QR
Nat Protoc. 2007 2(5):1044-51.
Intracellular zinc release and ERK phosphorylation are required upstream of 12-lipoxygenase activation in peroxynitrite toxicity to mature rat oligodendrocytes.
Zhang Y, Wang H, Li J, Dong L, Xu P, Chen W, Neve RL, Volpe JJ, Rosenberg PA
J Biol Chem. 2006 Apr; 281(14):9460-70.
Peroxynitrite generated by inducible nitric oxide synthase and NADPH oxidase mediates microglial toxicity to oligodendrocytes.
Li J, Baud O, Vartanian T, Volpe JJ, Rosenberg PA
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jul; 102(28):9936-41.
12-Lipoxygenase plays a key role in cell death caused by glutathione depletion and arachidonic acid in rat oligodendrocytes.
Wang H, Li J, Follett PL, Zhang Y, Cotanche DA, Jensen FE, Volpe JJ, Rosenberg PA
Eur J Neurosci. 2004 Oct; 20(8):2049-58.
Nitric oxide-induced cell death in developing oligodendrocytes is associated with mitochondrial dysfunction and apoptosis-inducing factor translocation.
Baud O, Li J, Zhang Y, Neve RL, Volpe JJ, Rosenberg PA
Eur J Neurosci. 2004 Oct; 20(7):1713-26.
Developmental up-regulation of MnSOD in rat oligodendrocytes confers protection against oxidative injury.
Baud O, Haynes RF, Wang H, Folkerth RD, Li J, Volpe JJ, Rosenberg PA
Eur J Neurosci. 2004 Jul; 20(1):29-40.
Glutathione peroxidase-catalase cooperativity is required for resistance to hydrogen peroxide by mature rat oligodendrocytes.
Baud O, Greene AE, Li J, Wang H, Volpe JJ, Rosenberg PA
J Neurosci. 2004 Feb; 24(7):1531-40.
Novel role of vitamin k in preventing oxidative injury to developing oligodendrocytes and neurons.
Li J, Lin JC, Wang H, Peterson JW, Furie BC, Furie B, Booth SL, Volpe JJ, Rosenberg PA
J Neurosci. 2003 Jul; 23(13):5816-26.
Astrocyte galectin-9 potentiates microglial TNF secretion.
Steelman AJ, Li J
J Neuroinflammation. 11:144.
A microchip for quantitative analysis of CNS axon growth under localized biomolecular treatments.
Park J, Kim S, Park SI, Choe Y, Li J, Han A
J Neurosci Methods. 221:166-74.
Aberrant upregulation of astroglial ceramide potentiates oligodendrocyte injury.
Kim S, Steelman AJ, Zhang Y, Kinney HC, Li J
Brain Pathol. 22(1):41-57.
Galectin-9 protein is up-regulated in astrocytes by tumor necrosis factor and promotes encephalitogenic T-cell apoptosis.
Steelman AJ, Smith R 3rd, Welsh CJ, Li J
J Biol Chem. 288(33):23776-87.
Demyelination and remyelination in anatomically distinct regions of the corpus callosum following cuprizone intoxication.
Steelman AJ, Thompson JP, Li J
Neurosci Res. 72(1):32-42.
Poly(I:C) promotes TNFα/TNFR1-dependent oligodendrocyte death in mixed glial cultures.
Steelman AJ, Li J
J Neuroinflammation. 8:89.
Caspase blockade induces RIP3-mediated programmed necrosis in Toll-like receptor-activated microglia.
Kim SJ, Li J
Cell Death Dis. 4:e716.

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