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Kansas State University


Lei Wang




Lei Wang
PhD, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology,
University of California, Los Angeles, 2000

Research Assistant Professor

Phone (785) 532-4540








Research Interests:

The long-term goal of our research is to understand the molecular mechanisms involved in microenvironmental regulation of cancer progression. Chronic inflammation is a predisposing cause of various cancers. Importantly, inflammation is present in every tumor, including those that are not developed from chronic inflammation.  The inflammatory microenvironment is an essential component that drives tumor progression and has been suggested as the seventh hallmark of cancer. Cancer stem cells (CSCs) are a subpopulation of tumor cells with the ability to undergo self-renewal and recapitulate the entire tumor population. In addition, CSCs have the ability to initiate distant metastasis to form metastatic growth that resemble the primary tumors, and are resistant to conventional chemotherapy/radiotherapy, implicating that they are responsible for tumor growth and recurrence.

Interleukin-1β (IL-1β) is an important mediator of cancer-related inflammation. IL-1β levels are increased in a variety of cancers and elevated IL-1β levels have been associated with tumor prognosis. In collaboration with Dr. Deryl Troyer and Dr. Jishu Shi, we investigate the effects of IL-1β on CSC development and the molecular mechanisms involved in the process. Our research may identify novel therapeutic targets on CSCs for effective cancer treatment.

Selected Publications:

Galliher-Beckley, A., Lan, L., S. Aono, L. Wang, and J. Shi. 2012. Post-translational processing of pro-IL-1β and the release of mature IL-1β are uncoupled events in human monocytes. Journal of Inflammation (Resubmitted).

Li, Y., L. Wang*, L. Pappan, A. Beckly, and J. Shi*. 2012. IL-1β promotes stemness and invasiveness of colon cancer cells through Zeb1 activation.  Molecular Cancer (Resubmitted). (*Co-corresponding authors)

Wang, L., Z. Liu, Y., Li, L. Pappan, Amy Beckly, and J. Shi. 2012. IL-1β promotes the development of intestinal epithelial stem cells. Inflammation Research. 61:1085-1092.

Wang, L.*, , Z. Liu, S. Balivada, T. Shrestha, S. Bossmann, M. Pyle, L. Pappan, J. Shi*, and Deryl Troyer 2012. IL-1β and TGF-β cooperate to induce neurosphere formation and increase tumorigenicity of adherent LN-229 glioma cells .  Stem Cell Research & Therapy. 3(1):5. (*Co-corresponding authors)

Wang, L.*, , J. Shi, F. van Ginkel, L. Lan, G. Niemeyer, D. Martin, E. Snyder, and N. Cox*.  2009. Neural Stem/Progenitor Cells Modulate Immune Responses by Suppressing T Lymphocytes with Nitric Oxide and Prostaglandin E2. Experimental Neurology 216:177-183. (*Co-corresponding authors)

Wang, L., D. Martin, H. Baker, K. Zinn, J. Kappes, H. Ding, A. Gentry, S. Harper, E. Snyder, and N. Cox  2007.  Neural progenitor cell transplantation and imaging in a large animal model. Neuroscience Research 59:327-340.

Shi, J., S. Aono, W. Lu, A. Ouellette, X. Hu, Y. Ji, L. Wang, S. Lenz, F.. van Ginkel, M. Liles, C. Dykstra, E. Morrison, and C. Elson. 2007. A novel role for defensins in intestinal homeostasis: regulation of IL-1beta secretion. The Journal of Immunology179:1245-1253.

Wang, L., S. Watowich, and B. Forget 2005. Cytokine signals through Stat3 promote expression of secondary granule proteins in 32D Cells.  Experimental Hematology 33:308-317.