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Liu Heli



Principal Investigator

Heli Liu, Email:

11/2011 Investigator, Department of Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology, Peking University School of Pharmaceutical Sciences

01/2006-09/2011 Postdoctoral fellow and Research Associate, Department of Molecular Pharmacology and Biological Chemistry, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine

07/2005 Ph.D. in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Biology, Institute of Biophysics at Chinese Academy of Sciences


Research profile

Our lab focuses on molecular and structural pharmacology of cell surface receptors, like integrins, receptors tyrosine kinases (RTKs) and neuronal cell adhesion molecules, which  are involved in the pathological processes such as cancer metastasis and autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) or other neurological disorders. Using a range of methodologies including X-ray crystallography, protein chemistry, molecular biology and biophysics, we try to answer some basic scientific questions, i.e., how these cell-surface receptors perform their transmembrane signaling process at the atomic resolution level, how their cross-talk constitutes a complex signaling network for cell movement and synaptic formation, and how their dysfunction is associated with human diseases. Furthermore, ultizing chemical biology methods like genetic evolution and cell-surface display, we seek to develop powerful antagonistic or agonistic proteins (including monoclonal antibodies) targeting these receptors for therapy.




  1. 1. Lin Z, Liu J, Ding H, Xu F, Liu H#.Structural basis of SALM5-induced PTPδ dimerization for synaptic differentiation. Nat Commun . 2018 Jan 18;9(1):268. (# Corresponding author)
  2. 2. Bu Q, Li Z, Zhang J, Xu F, Liu J, Liu H#.The crystal structure of full-length Sizzled from Xenopus laevis yields insights into Wnt-antagonistic function of secreted Frizzled-related proteins. J Biol Chem . 2017 Sep 29;292(39):16055-16069.
  3. 3. Jiang X, Fischer D, Chen X, McKenna SD, Liu H, Sriraman V, Yu HN, Goutopoulos A, Arkinstall S, He X.Evidence for Follicle-stimulating Hormone Receptor as a Functional Trimer. J Biol Chem . 2014 289(20): 14273–82
  4. 4. Liu Heli, Leo C, Chen X, Wong BR, Williams LT, Lin H, He X. The mechanism of shared but distinct CSF-1R signaling by the non-homologous cytokines IL-34 and CSF-1. Biochim Biophys Acta . 2012 1824(7):938-45
  5. 5. Jiang X, Liu Heli, Chen X, Chen PH, Fischer D, Sriraman V, Yu HN, Arkinstall S, He X. Structure of follicle-stimulating hormone in complex with the entire ectodomain of its receptor. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A . 2012 109(31):12491-6
  6. 6. Heli Liu, Pamela J. Focia, Xiaolin He.Homophilic adhesion mechanism of neurofascin, a member of the L1 family of neural cell adhesion molecules. J Biol Chem . 2011 286(1):797-805
  7. 7. Heli Liu, Z. Sean Juo, Ann Hye-Ryong Shim, Pamela J. Focia, Xiaoyan Chen, K. Christopher Garcia, and Xiaolin He. Structural Basis of Semaphorin-Plexin Recognition and Viral Mimicry from Sema7A and A39R Complexes with PlexinC1. Cell . 2010 142(5):749-61. (recommended by “Faculty of 1000”)
  8. 8. Ann H. R. Shim*, Heli Liu*, Pamela J. Focia, Xiaoyan Chen, P. Charles Lin, Xiaolin He. Structures of a platelet-derived growth factor/propeptide complex and a platelet-derived growth factor/receptor complex. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A . 2010 107(25):11307-12. (*equal contribution)
  9. 9. Heli Liu, Ann H. R. ShimXiaolin He.Structural characterization of the ectodomain of a disintegrin and metalloproteinase-22 (ADAM22), a neural adhesion receptor instead of metalloproteinase: insights on ADAM function. J Biol Chem . 2009 284(42):29077-86. (highlighted as “Paper of Week”)
  10. 10. Chen X, Liu Heli, Focia PJ, Shim AH, He X. Structure of macrophage colony stimulating factor bound to FMS: diverse signaling assemblies of class III receptor tyrosine kinases. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A . 2008 105(47):18267-72.
  11. 11. Xiaoyan Chen, Heli Liu, Ann Shim, Pamela J Focia, Xiaolin He. Structural basis for synaptic adhesion mediated by neuroligin-neurexin interactions. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology . 2008 15(1):50-6
  12. 12. Heli Liu*, Xiaoyan Chen*, Pamela J Focia, Xiaolin He.Structural basis for stem cell factor-KIT signaling and activation of class III receptor tyrosine kinases. EMBO J . 2007 26(3):891-901 (*equal contribution) [commented in Cell. 2007 Jul 27;130(2):213-5]



Postdoc Position

Highly self-motivated and well-trained Ph.D in neuronal biology or cancer molecular biology are wanted. A considerable salary commensurate with research experience will be provided.