Ph.D., Parasitology and Medical Entomology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, 1990
M.S., Parasitology, Beijing Agricultural University, 1985
D.V.M., Veterinary Medicine, Beijing Agricultural University, 1982
- July 2011 - present: professor, Department of Biochemistry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
- Dec 2005 – July 2011: Associate Professor, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg
- July 2001 - Nov 2005: Associate Professor, Department of Pathobiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
- July 1996 - June 2001: Assistant Professor, Department of Pathobiology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
BCHM 4124: Laboratory Problems in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
BCHM 5115: Principles of Biochemistry
BCHM 5224: Protein Structure, Function and Modeling
Aromatic amino acids, like other proteinogenic amino acids, are building blocks of proteins. Moreover, they serve as precursors for the synthesis of many neurologically active compounds that are essential for maintaining the normal brain functions in humans and other species. For example, tryptophan is the initial precursor for the biosynthesis of tryptamine, serotonin, and melatonin. Kynurenic acid, produced along the tryptophan-kynurenine pathway, is an antagonist at excitatory amino acid receptors and plays a role in protecting neurons from overstimulation by excitatory neurotransmitters. Tyrosine is the initial precursor for the biosynthesis dopa, dopamine, norepinephrine, and epinephrine. In addition, tyrosine is the precursor for melanin synthesis.
Our current research includes the determination of the structure-function relationship of proteins involved in kynurenic acid biosynthesis along the tryptophan-kynurenine pathway in the mouse model. Our current studies also include the characterization of proteins involved in tyrosine metabolisms in insects and mammals. We have active research collaboration with colleagues at VT in Chemistry and Entomology, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and at NIH.
Liu P, Ge X, Ding H, Jiang H, Christensen BM, Li J (2013) Role of glutamate decarboxylase-like protein 1 (GADL1) in taurine biosynthesis. J Biol Chem 287: 40898-40906.
Vavricka CJ, Han Q, Mehere P, Ding H, Christensen BM, Li J (2013) Tyrosine metabolic enzymes from insects and mammals. Insect Sci (in press).
Han Q, Liu N, Robinson H, Cao L, Qian C, Wang Q, Xie L, Ding H, Wang Q, Huang Y, Li J, Zhou Z (2013) Biochemical characterization and crystal structure of a GH10 xylanase from termite gut bacteria reveal a novel structural feature and significance of its bacterial Ig-like domain. Biotechnol Bioeng (in press).
Miao J, Fan Q, Parker D, Li X, Li J, Cui L (2013) Puf mediates translation repression of transmission-blocking vaccine candidates in malaria parasites. PloS Pathology (in press)
Torrens-Spence MP, Liu P, Ding H, Harich K, Gillaspy G and Li J (2013) Biochemical evaluation of the decarboxylation and decarboxylation-deamination activities of plant aromatic amino acid decarboxylases. J Biol Chem 288: 2376-2387.
You C, Chen H, Myung S, Sathitsuksanoh N, Ma H, Zhang HZ, Li J and Zhang P (2013) Enzymatic transformation of nonfood biomass. PNAS 110:7182-7187.
Wong DM, Li J, Chen QH, Han Q, Mutunga JM, Wysinski A, Anderson TD, Ding H, Carpenetti TL, Verma A, Islam R, Paulson SL, Lam PC, Totrov M, Bloomquist JR and Carlier PR (2013) Select small core structure carbamates exhibit high contact toxicity to "carbamate-resistant" strain malaria mosquitoes, Anopheles gambiae (Akron). PLoS One 7(10):e46712
Wong DM, Li J, Lam PC, Hartsel JA, Mutunga JM, Totrov M, Bloomquist JR and Carlier PR (2013) Aryl methylcarbamates: Potency and selectivity towards wild-type and carbamate-insensitive (G119S) Anopheles gambiae acetylcholinesterase, and toxicity to G3 strain An. gambiae. Chem Biol Interact 203: 314-318.
Han Q, Robinson H, Ding H, Christensen BM and Li J (2012) Evolution of insect arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferases: structural evidence from the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. PNAS 109: 11669-11674.
Han Q, Robinson H and Li J (2012). Biochemical identification and crystal structures of kynurenine formamidase from Drosophila melanogaster. Biochem J 446: 253-260.
Liu P, Torrens-Spence MP, Ding H, Christensen BM and Li J (2012) Mechanism of cysteine-mediated inhibition of aspartate/glutamate/cysteine sulfinic acid a-decarboxylases. Amino acids 44: 391-404.
Torrens-Spence MP, Gillaspy G, Zhao B, Harich K, White RH and Li J (2012) Biochemical evaluation of a parsley tyrosine decarboxylase results in a novel 4-hydroxyphenyl acetaldehyde synthase enzyme. BBRC 418: 211-216.
Liu P, Ding H, Christensen BM and Li J (2012) Cysteine sulfinic acid decarboxylase activity of Aedes aegypti aspartate 1-decarboxylase: the structural basis of its substrate selectivity. Insect Biochem Mol Biol 42:396-403.
Mehere P, Han Q, Christensen BM and Li J (2011) Identification and characterization of two arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase in the yellow fever mosquito, Aedes aegypti. Insect Biochem Mol Biol 41: 707-714.
Roobsoong W, Roytrakul S, Sattabongkot J, Li J, Udomsangpetch R Cui L (2011) Determination of the Plasmodium vivax schizont stage proteome. J Proteom 74: 1701-1710
Yokoi F, Dang M.T, Li J, Standaert DG, and Li Y (2011) Motor deficits and decreased striatal dopamine receptor 2 binding activity in the striatum-specific Dyt1 conditional knockout mice. PloS One 6(9):e24539.
Kajla MK, Shi L, Li B, Luckhart S, Li J and Paskewitz SM (2011) A new role for an old antimicrobial: Lysozyme c-1 can function to protect malarial parasites in Anopheles mosquitoes. PloS One 6: e19649. PMID: 21573077
Vavricka C, Han Q, Huang Y, Erickson SM, Harich K, Christensen BM and Li J (2011) From L-dopa to 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetaldehyde: a toxic biochemical pathway plays a vital physiological function. PloS One 24;6:e16124.
Han Q, Robinson H, Cai T, Tagle DA and Li J (2011) Biochemical and structural characterization of mouse mitochondrial aspartate aminotransferase, a newly identified kynurenine aminotransferase-IV. Bioscience Report 31: 323-332.
Mehere P, Han Q, Lemkul JA, Robinson H, Bevan DR and Li J (2010) Tyrosine aminotransferase: Biochemical and structural properties and molecular dynamics simulations. Protein & Cell 1: 1023-1032.
Zhan S, Guo Q, Li M, Li M, Li J, Miao X and Huang Y (2010) Disruption of an N-acetyltransferase gene in the silkworm reveals a novel role in animal pigmentation. Development 137: 4083-4090.
Han Q, Ding H, Robinson H, Christensen BM and Li J (2010) Crystal structure and chemical properties of Drosophila 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine decarboxylase. PloS One 5:e8826.
Han Q, Cai T, Tagle DA and Li J (2010) Thermal stability, pH dependence and inhibition of four murine kynurenine aminotransferases. BMC Biochemistry 11: 19.
Vavricka C, Christensen BM and Li J (2010) Melanization in living organisms: a perspective of species evolution. Protein & Cell 1: 830-841.
Vavricka C, Ray K.W., Christensen B.M. and Li J. (2010) Purification & N-Glycosylation Analysis of Melanoma Antigen Dopachrome Tautomerase. Protein J 29: 204-212.
Richardson G, Ding H, Rocheleau T, Mayhew G, Reddy E, Han Q, Christensen BM and Li J (2010) An examination of aspartate decarboxylase and glutamate decarboxylase activity in mosquitoes. Mol Biol Report 37: 3199-3205.
Han Q, Cai T, Tagle DA and Li J (2009) Structure, expression and function of kynurenine aminotransferases in human and rodents brains. Cell Mol Life Sci 67: 353-368.
Han Q, Robinson H, Cai T, Tagle DA and Li J (2009) Structural insight into the inhibition of human kynurenine aminotransferase I/glutamine transaminase K. J Med Chem 52: 2786 – 2793.
Han Q, Robinson H, Cai T, Tagle DA and Li J (2009) Biochemical and structural properties of mouse KAT III. Mol Cell Biol 29: 784-793.
Han Q, Cai T, Tagle DA, Robinson H and Li J (2008) Substrate specificity and structure of human aminotransferase II. Biosci Rep. 28: 205-215.
Han Q, Robinson H and Li J (2008) Crystal Structure of Human kynurenine aminotransferase II. J Biol Chem 283: 3567-3573.
Han Q, Gao YG, Robinson H and Li J (2008) Structural insight into the mechanism of substrate specificity of Aedes kynurenine aminotransferase. Biochemistry 47: 1622-1630.
Yokoi F, Dang M, Mitsui S, Li J and Li Y (2008) Motor deficits and hyperactivity in cerebral cortex-specific Dyt1 conditional knockout mice. J Biochemistry 143: 39-47.