Department of Cell Systems & Anatomy

CSA Faculty


Lily Q. Dong, Ph.D.



Iowa State University, 1991


MED 234D
(210) 567-4849


We investigate the fundamental mechanisms underlying insulin resistance and its related diseases including obesity and type 2 diabetes with special emphasis on adiponectin signaling and the cross talk between adiponectin and insulin signal pathways.


Adiponectin is a hormone secreted from adipose tissue. The serum concentration of adiponectin is significantly reduced in type 2 diabetic and obese patients. A number of studies have shown that adiponectin is an insulin sensitizer by enhancing insulin sensitivity, suggesting that the molecules in adiponectin signal pathways could be targets of therapeutic drug development for the treatment of type 2 diabetes and obesity. However, the molecular mechanism governing adiponectin action is largely unknown. We have identified APPL1, an adaptor protein with multiple function domains, as the first signaling molecule immediate binding to adiponectin receptors, and positively mediating adiponectin signaling in muscle cells (Mao et al., 2006, Nature Cell Biology, 8: 516-523) and in vivo (Ryu et al, 2014, Cell Reports, 1227-1238). In addition, we have shown that APPL2, an isoform of APPL1, negatively regulates adiponectin signaling. We proposed that APPL1/APPL2 isoforms function as an integrated "Yin-Yang" regulator in adiponectin signaling (Wang et al., 2009, JBC, 284, 31608-31615). Recently, we have demonstrated that APPL1 mediates the insulin sensitizer role of adiponectin by facilitating the binding of IRS1/2 to the insulin receptor in response to adiponectin stimulation (Ryu et al, 2014, Cell Reports, 1227-1238). The findings from our studies provide potential mechanisms behind insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes.

Dr. Dong participates in training graduate students and teaching several graduate level courses including Fundamentals of Biomedical Science (INTD5000), Graduate Colloquium (CSBL5089), and Advanced Cell and Molecular Biology (INTD5007).


She received the Graduate Teaching Award (Cell Systems & Anatomy Department) in 2008 and Presidential Teaching Excellent Award (UTHSCSA) in 2013.


She is a Master Teacher named by the University of Texas Health Science Center and a Distinguished Teaching Professor awarded by the University of Texas Board of Regents.

(Publications before 1997 were under the name of Dong, Q.)
My NCBI Collections | UT Health - Influuent


Recent Publications:
Yu L, Tu Q, Han Q, Zhang L, Sui L, Zheng L, Meng S, Tang Y, Xuan D, Zhang J, Murray D, Shen Q, Cheng J, Kim SH, Dong LQ, Valverde P, Cao X, Chen J. Adiponectin regulates bone marrow mesenchymal stem cell niche through a unique signal transduction pathway: an approach for treating bone disease in diabetes. Stem Cells. 2015 Jan;33(1):240-52.


Liu M, Chen H, Wei L, Hu D, Dong K, Jia W, Dong LQ, Liu F. Endoplasmic reticulum (ER) localization is critical for DsbA-L protein to suppress ER stress and adiponectin down-regulation in adipocytes. J Biol Chem. 2015 Apr 17;290(16):10143-8.


Tan Y, Xin X, Coffey FJ, Wiest DL, Dong LQ, Testa JR. Appl1 and Appl2 are Expendable for Mouse Development But Are Essential for HGF-Induced Akt Activation and Migration in Mouse Embryonic Fibroblasts. J Cell Physiol. 2016 May;231(5):1142-50.


Chen X, Zhang F, Gong Q, Cui A, Zhuo S, Hu Z, Han Y, Gao J, Sun Y, Liu Z, Yang Z, Le Y, Gao X, Dong LQ, Gao X, Li Y. Hepatic ATF6 Increases Fatty Acid Oxidation to Attenuate Hepatic Steatosis in Mice Through Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor α. Diabetes. 2016 Jul;65(7):1904-15.


Chen H, Bai J, Dong F, Fang H, Zhang Y, Meng W, Liu B, Luo Y, Liu M, Bai Y, Abdul-Ghani MA, Li R, Wu J, Zeng R, Zhou Z, Dong LQ, Liu F. Hepatic DsbA-L protects mice from diet-induced hepatosteatosis and insulin resistance. FASEB J. 2017 Jun;31(6):2314-2326.


Bai J, Cervantes C, Liu J, He S, Zhou H, Zhang B, Cai H, Yin D, Hu D, Li Z, Chen H, Gao X, Wang F, O'Connor JC, Xu Y, Liu M, Dong LQ, Liu F. DsbA-L prevents obesity-induced inflammation and insulin resistance by suppressing the mtDNA release-activated cGAS-cGAMP-STING pathway. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2017 Nov 14;114(46):12196-12201.


Galan-Davila AK, Ryu J, Dong K, Xiao Y, Dai Z, Zhang D, Li Z, Dick AM, Liu KD, Kamat A, Lu M, Dong Q, Liu F, Dong LQ. Alternative splicing variant of the scaffold protein APPL1 suppresses hepatic adiponectin signaling and function. J Biol Chem. 2018 Feb 26. pii: jbc.RA118.002162.


Representative Publications:
Ryu J, Galan AK, Xin X, Dong F, Abdul-Ghani MA, Zhou L, Wang C, Li C, Holmes BM, Sloane LB, Austad SN, Guo S, Musi N, DeFronzo RA, Deng C, White MF, Liu F, Dong LQ. APPL1 potentiates insulin sensitivity by facilitating the binding of IRS1/2 to the insulin receptor. Cell Rep. 2014 May 22;7(4):1227-38.


Mao X, Kikani CK, Riojas RA, Langlais P, Wang L, Ramos FJ, Fang Q, Christ-Roberts CY, Hong JY, Kim RY, Liu F, Dong LQ. APPL1 binds to adiponectin receptors and mediates adiponectin signalling and function. Nat Cell Biol. 2006 May;8(5):516-23.


Lim MA, Kikani CK, Wick MJ, Dong LQ. Nuclear translocation of 3'-phosphoinositide-dependent protein kinase 1 (PDK-1): a potential regulatory mechanism for PDK-1 function. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Nov 25;100(24):14006-11.

The research team in Dr. Dong laboratory includes graduate students, post-doctoral fellows and junior research faculty.


Research Faculty:
Jiyoon Ryu, Ph.D., Instructor


Lab Assistant:
Alycia Ramirez, B.S., Research Assistant


Graduate Students:
Jason Hadley, B.S., Biology of Aging Ph.D. Student
Collen Loza, B.S., Anatomy track Master Degree Student


M.D. Students:
Jielei Wu, B.S., M.D. Student in Xiangya Medical Student Research Program
Huayu (Henna) You, B.S., M.D. Student in Xiangya Medical Student Research Program


Visiting Scholars:
Huan Xu, M.D., Visiting Scientist
Bilin Zhang, M.D., Visiting Scientist
Huaiqing Wang, M.D./Ph.D., Visiting Scientist
Min Zhou, M.D./Ph.D., Visiting Scientist