XUE Tian


Tian Xue, Ph.D.

Professor, School of Life Sciences

University of Science & Technology of China

443 Huangshan Street, Hefei City, Anhui 230027, P.R.China

Email: xuetian(at)ustc.edu.cn. (at 换成@)”


Education and Appointment:

09/2012–present:  Professor, University of Science and Technology of China (USTC)

06/2011-08/2012: Research Associate, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine

03/2006-05/2011: Postdoctoral Fellow (with Dr. King-Wai YAU) Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Neuroscience

09/2000-05/2005: Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Cellular & Molecular Physiology

09/1995-06/2000: B.S., University of Science and Technology of China (USTC), Biophysics and Neuroscience; Special Class for Gifted Young (SCGY)

Honors & Awards: 

2003    American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Sessions Selected Late-Breaking Science

2004    NIH Stem Cells Scholarship at the Keystone Stem Cells Symposium, NIH

2006    BEST BASIC SCIENCE PAPER by Circulation, AHA

2007    Final list of Life Science Research Foundation Fellowships

2007    Best Poster Award (3 out of entire Johns Hopkins Neuroscience Department)

Research Field of Interest:

Phototransduction, Non-image vision, Stem Cell, Photoreceptor Regeneration


Sensing light signals provides us with visual perception (image vision) but also regulates many important physiological functions such as circadian-rhythm photoentrainment, pupillary light reflex, sleep, locomotion and secretion of melatonin – functions referred to collectively as non-image vision. It had been demonstrated that a small subset (~1%) of retinal ganglion cells (ipRGCs) can sense light by themselves for non-image vision, by expression of melanopsin, a recently discovered visual pigment. Our lab has broad interests in the phototransductions of both image and non-image visions. My previous work include the elucidation of the key phototransduction components in the ipRGCs and the discovery of a surprising intrinsic pupillary light reflex (i.e., originating locally from the iris) widespread among mammals also triggered by melanopsin. Based on this framework, we would like to continue with this important problem by delving into the next level of details regarding melanopsin phototransduction process, including the exact second messenger controlling the TRPC channels, any modulation or negative-feedback control, and the underlying molecular mechanisms. In particular, as a detector of ambient light level, ipRGCs have an important feature for having light responses that last much longer than the rods and cones. We would like to understand the underlying mechanisms.

A separate goal of the lab is trying to regenerate rod/cone photoreceptors to restore image-vision function in retinal degeneration caused by diverse diseases. This degeneration is irreversible because mammalian retina lacks the ability to regenerate. During my previous studies, I have done extensive stem-cell-based regenerative studies of cardiac tissue, and also examined the light response for the newborn rod photoreceptors differentiated from transplanted retinal precursor cells (collaboration with Robin Ali’s group in UK). We will combine our strength in cellular light-sensor physiology with stem-cell techniques, to improve photoreceptors regeneration and their functional integration.

Representative Publications (12 out of 21)

1.Pearson RA, Barber AC, Rizzi M, Hippert C, Xue T, West EL, Duran Y, Smith AJ, Chuang JZ, Azam SA, Luhmann UFO, Benucci A, Sung CH, Carandini M, Yau KW, Sowden JC, Ali RR. (2012). estoration of vision after transplantation of photoreceptors. Nature. 485(7396):99-103.

2.Xue T, Do MT, Riccio A, Jiang Z, Hsieh J, Wang HC, Merbs SL, Welsbie DS, Yoshioka T, Weissgerber P, Stolz S, Flockerzi V, Freichel M, Simon MI, Clapham DE, Yau KW. (2011). Melanopsin Signaling in Mammalian Iris and Retina. Nature. 479(7371):67-73. (Research Article) (¶ co-corresponding authors); Faculty of 1000: f1000.com/13360986.

3.Do MT, Kang SH, Xue T, Zhong H, Liao HW, Bergles DE, Yau KW. (2009) Photon capture and signalling by melanopsin retinal ganglion cells. Nature. 457(7227):281-7. (Research Article); Faculty of 1000: f1000.com/1144855.

4.Luo DG, Xue T, Yau KW. (2008) How vision begins: An odyssey. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A.105(29): 9855-62 (review)

5.Fu YB*, Kefalov V*, Luo DG*, Xue T*, Yau KW. (2008) Quantal noise from human red cone pigment. Nature Neuroscience. 11(5):565-71 (* equal contributions)

6.Xue T, Siu CW, Lieu DK, Lau CP, Tse HF, Li RA. (2007) Mechanistic role of I(f) revealed by induction of ventricular automaticity by somatic gene transfer of gating-engineered pacemaker (HCN) channels. Circulation. 115(14):1839-1850.

7.Tse HF, Xue T, Lau CP, Siu CW, Wang K, Zhang QY, Tomaselli GF, Akar FG, Li RA (2006). A bio-artificial sinus node constructed via in vivo gene transfer of an engineered pacemaker (HCN) channel reduces the dependence on electronic pacemaker in a sick sinus syndrome model.Circulation114: 1000-1011. Issue highlights, GROUND-BREAKING STUDY OF 2007 AHA.

8.Xue T*, Cho H*, Akar F*, Tsang SY, Jones S, Marbán E, Tomaselli GF, Li RA (2005). Functional Integration of Electrically Active Cardiac Derivatives from Genetically Engineered Human Embryonic Stem Cells with Quiescent Recipient Ventricular Cardiomyocytes. Insights into the Development of Cell-Based Pacemakers. Circulation. 111:11-20. issue highlights, (Best Paper Award, Circulation. 2005) (* equal contribution)

9.Wang G*, Xue T*, Tsang SY, Wong J, Cheng L, Zhang J, Li GR, Lau CP, Li RA, Tse HF (2005). Electrophysiological properties of pluripotent human and mouse embryonic stem cells. Stem Cells. 23(10):1526-34. (* equal contributions)

10. Azene EM*, Xue T*, Li RA (2003). Molecular basis of the effects of potassium on heterologously-expressed pacemaker (HCN) channels. J. Physiol. (London) 547(2):349 -356. (* equal contributions )

11. Xue T, Li RA (2002). An external determinant in the S5-P linker of the pacemaker (HCN) channel identified by sulfhydryl modification. J. Biol. Chem. 277(48):46233-42.

12. Xue T, Marbán E, Li RA (2002). Dominant-negative suppression of HCN1- and HCN2-encoded pacemaker currents by an engineered HCN1 construct: Insights into structure-function relationships and multimerization. Circ. Res. 90:1267-1273.