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Yongchang Qian

Research Associate Professor


Phone: (979) 862-4973

Mailstop: 4458

Department: VIBS

Photo of Qian, Yongchang


  • Ph.D. Botany-Plant Biochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences, China 1990
  • B.S. Biology, Shanghai FuDan University, China 1985


  • Cell Biology
  • Toxicology
  • Neuroscience

Interdisciplinary Activities

  • Neuroscience
  • Toxicology

Scholarly Interests

The research interests include astroglial cell biology and heavy metal neurotoxicity. The studies have identified that Pb deposit in astrocytes competitively with copper (Cu) binds to heavy metal binding (HMB) domain of ATP7A, a Cu-transporting ATPase that contributes to Cu release, leading to Cu accumulation intracellularly and the promotion of reactive oxygen species (ROS) production that both have been involved in neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The studies have also identified a 78 kD glucose-regulated protein (GRP78), also named as HSPA5 or BiP, as one of Pb targets. GRP78 is an endoplasmic reticulum-resident molecular chaperone functioning in protein folding, assembly and trafficking in posttranslational quality control and also plays a role in protection against cytotoxicity and apoptosis induced by environmental insults. Emerging evidence indicates that the protein is involved in cancers including breast cancers, lung cancers, and others and neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer's disease. The studies demonstrate that Pb directly binds to GRP78 and the binding plays a “double-edged sword” role because it protects the cells from the toxicity of free Pb ions but also reduces protein secretion (e.g. IL-6) and Cu release from astrocytes. Current interests are focused on functions of GRP78 in Cu homeostasis and glucose utilization of the central nervous system that both are involved in neurodegenerative disorders and cancers.


Expression of recombinant human acetylcholinesterase and its application in screening its inhibitors.
Wang XJ, Wu HX, Ye SS, Pan LY, Qian YC
Yao Xue Xue Bao. 2014 49(1):50-4.
HSPA5 forms specific complexes with copper.
Qian Y, Meng B, Zhang X, Zheng Y, Taylor R, Tiffany-Castiglioni E
Neurochem Res. 2013 38(2):321-9.
ER chaperone-metal interactions: links to protein folding disorders.
Tiffany-Castiglioni E, Qian Y
Neurotoxicology. 2012 33(3):545-57.
Copper handling by astrocytes: insights into neurodegenerative diseases.
Tiffany-Castiglioni E, Hong S, Qian Y
Int J Dev Neurosci. 2011 29(8):811-8.
Image analysis of Ca2+ signals as a basis for neurotoxicity assays: promises and challenges.
Barhoumi R, Qian Y, Burghardt RC, Tiffany-Castiglioni E
Neurotoxicol Teratol. 2010 32(1):16-24.
A 78-kDa glucose-regulated protein is involved in the decrease of interleukin-6 secretion by lead treatment from astrocytes.
Qian Y, Zheng Y, Weber D, Tiffany-Castiglioni E
Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2007 293(3):.
Effects of propofol on intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis in human astrocytoma cells.
Barhoumi R, Burghardt RC, Qian Y, Tiffany-Castiglioni E
Brain Res. 2007 1145(1145):11-8.
Differential profiles of copper-induced ROS generation in human neuroblastoma and astrocytoma cells.
Qian Y, Zheng Y, Abraham L, Ramos KS, Tiffany-Castiglioni E
Brain Res Mol Brain Res. 2005 134(2):323-32.
The involvement of copper transporter in lead-induced oxidative stress in astroglia.
Qian Y, Zheng Y, Ramos KS, Tiffany-Castiglioni E
Neurochem Res. 2005 30(4):429-38.
GRP78 compartmentalized redistribution in Pb-treated glia: role of GRP78 in lead-induced oxidative stress.
Qian Y, Zheng Y, Ramos KS, Tiffany-Castiglioni E
Neurotoxicology. 2005 26(2):267-75.
Toxicity assessment of complex mixtures remains a goal.
Donnelly KC, Lingenfelter R, Cizmas L, Falahatpisheh MH, Qian Y, Tang Y, Garcia S, Ramos K, Tiffany-Castiglioni E, Mumtaz MM
Environ Toxicol Pharmacol. 2004 18(2):135-41.
Lead-induced endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress responses in the nervous system.
Qian Y, Tiffany-Castiglioni E
Neurochem Res. 2003 28(1):153-62.
Astroglia as metal depots: molecular mechanisms for metal accumulation, storage and release.
Tiffany-Castiglion E, Qian Y
Neurotoxicology. 2001 22(5):577-92.
Lead targets GRP78, a molecular chaperone, in C6 rat glioma cells.
Qian Y, Harris ED, Zheng Y, Tiffany-Castiglioni E
Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2000 163(3):260-6.

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