Li Cai

Li Cai

Associate Professor

Office Hours: By appointment


Ph.D.Rutgers University & UMDNJ-RWJ Medical School, 1997

Research Associate, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School, 2000-2005

Postdoctoral Training, Harvard Medical School and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, 1997-2000

Research Interests

Regulation of Gene Expression in Stem Cells
The Cai lab aims to understand the regulatory mechanisms of gene expression in stem cells during normal development and tumorigenesis. Stem cells have the potential to develop into many different cell types for regenerative medicine, but they are also the source of at least some, perhaps, all cancers. The normal and cancerous behavior of stem cells may be determined by their unique pattern of gene expression. We are using integrative computational and experimental approaches to identify, verify and characterize the genetic regulatory elements, e.g., the conserved non-coding DNA sequences and their interacting protein factors, that involved in the gene regulation in stem cells. A thorough understanding of these mechanisms will provide the knowledge of stem cell development into various normal cell types as a repair system for the body, as well as a basis for the therapeutic treatments of cancers.

Selected Publications

Recent Publications and Presentations

1.    Smith SM, Lyu YL, Cai L. NF-kappaB Affects Proliferation and Invasiveness of Breast Cancer Cells by Regulating CD44 Expression. PloS one. 2014;9(9):e106966. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0106966. PubMed PMID: 25184276.
2.    Li Y, Hao H, Tzatzalos E, Lin RK, Doh S, Liu LF, Lyu YL, Cai L. Topoisomerase IIbeta is required for proper retinal development and survival of postmitotic cells. Biology open. 2014;3(2):172-84. doi: 10.1242/bio.20146767. PubMed PMID: 24463367.
3.    Hao H, Li Y, Tzatzalos E, Gilbert J, Zala D, Bhaumik M, Cai L. Identification of a transient Sox5 expressing progenitor population in the neonatal ventral forebrain by a novel cis-regulatory element. Developmental biology. 2014;393(1):183-93. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2014.06.010. PubMed PMID: 24954155; PMCID: 4167819.
4.    Islam MM, Li Y, Luo H, Xiang M, Cai L. Meis1 regulates Foxn4 expression during retinal progenitor cell differentiation. Biology open. 2013;2(11):1125-36. doi: 10.1242/bio.20132279. PubMed PMID: 24244849; PMCID: 3828759.
5.    Tzatzalos E, Smith SM, Doh ST, Hao H, Li Y, Wu A, Grumet M, Cai L. A cis-element in the Notch1 locus is involved in the regulation of gene expression in interneuron progenitors. Developmental biology. 2012;372(2):217-28. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2012.09.015. PubMed PMID: 23022658; PMCID: 3518388.
6.    Luo H, Jin K, Xie Z, Qiu F, Li S, Zou M, Cai L, Hozumi K, Shima DT, Xiang M. Forkhead box N4 (Foxn4) activates Dll4-Notch signaling to suppress photoreceptor cell fates of early retinal progenitors. PNAS. 2012;109(9):E553-62. Epub 2012/02/11. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1115767109. PubMed PMID: 22323600; PMCID: 3295323.