Department of Cellular and Structural Biology

CSB Faculty


Lily Q. Dong, Ph.D.



Iowa State University, 1991


MED 2.061V
(210) 567-4849


Dr. Dong is a Professor of Cellular & Structural Biology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio. She received Ph.D. from Iowa State University and did post-doctoral training at Stanford University. Dr. Dong's research is focused on obesity and type 2 diabetes. She is interesting in how adiponectin acts as an insulin sensitizer to regulating energy homeostasis, and glucose and lipid metabolism. Dr. Dong has been an active member of the American Diabetes Society. She was a recipient of Career Development Award (2004-2009) from American Diabetes Association and is currently serving on ADA Research Grant Review Committee. Dr. Dong also participates in graduate student teaching and received the Departmental Graduate Teaching Award (2008). She was named as an Academic Member by the University of Texas Health Science Center and awarded as a Distinguished Teaching Professor by the University of Texas Board of Regents in 2010.


Insulin resistance is a primary contributing factor in the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes. This condition is characterized by the loss of insulin sensitivity in insulin target tissues, resulting in an impairment of glucose breakdown and an unregulated production of glucose in hepatic cells, and a reduction of glucose uptake in skeletal muscle, which causes a greatly increased glucose level in the bloodstream. 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.


Research Interest:
Our research interest is mainly focused on: 1) the elucidation of the molecular pathway(s) mediating adiponectin signaling in cells and in vivo; and 2) the investigation of the molecular mechanism of the cross-talk between insulin signaling pathway and adiponectin signaling pathway.


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 (Figure 1) (Mao et al., 2006, Nature Cell Biology, 8: 516-523, PMID: 16622416). Our work has been described by peers as "identifying a novel mechanism linking adiponectin to insulin sensitization" and "opening doors to exciting avenues of investigation in adiponectin signaling system" (Research Highlight Commentary by Hosch et al, 2006, in Cell Metabolism, 4, 5-6). This publication was the highlighted research article on the cover page of the issue of Nature Cell Biology.



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 (Figure 2) (Wang et al., 2009, JBC, 284, 31608-31615, PMID:19661063). The findings from our studies provide potential mechanisms behind insulin resistance and the development of type 2 diabetes.



Research Techniques:
General techniques in signal transduction
Yeast two-hybrid system
Cell culture
Confocal optical imaging
Lipid and glucose assays
Genetic mouse model generation


(Publications before 1997 were under the name of Dong, Q.)


Deepa SS, Zhou L, Ryu J, Wang C, Mao X, Li C, Zhang N, Musi N, Defronzo RA, Liu F, Dong LQ. (2011) APPL1 mediates adiponectin-induced LKB1 cytosolic localization through the PP2A-PKCzeta signaling pathway. Mol Endocrinol. 2011 Oct;25(10):1773-85.


Liu M, Zhou L, Wei L, Villarreal R, Yang X, Hu D, Riojas RA, Holmes BM, Langlais PR, Lee H, Dong LQ. (2012) Phosphorylation of adaptor protein containing pleckstrin homology domain, phosphotyrosine binding domain, and leucine zipper motif 1 (APPL1) at Ser430 mediates endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-induced insulin resistance in hepatocytes. J Biol Chem. 2012 Jul 27;287(31):26087-93. doi: 10.1074 / jbc. M112.372292.


Chocron ES, Sayre NL, Holstein D, Saelim N, Ibdah JA, Dong LQ, Zhu X, Cheng SY, Lechleiter JD. (2012) The trifunctional protein mediates thyroid hormone receptor-dependent stimulation of mitochondria metabolism. Mol Endocrinol. 2012 Jul;26(7):1117-28.


Liu M, Xiang R, Wilk SA, Zhang N, Sloane LB, Azarnoush K, Zhou L, Chen H, Xiang G, Walter CA, Austad SN, Musi N, Defronzo RA, Asmis R, Scherer PE, Dong LQ, Liu F. (2012) Fat-Specific DsbA-L Overexpression Promotes Adiponectin Multimerization and Protects Mice From Diet-Induced Obesity and Insulin Resistance. Diabetes. 2012 Nov;61(11):2776-86. doi: 10.2337/db12-0169.


Kikani CK, Verona EV, Ryu J, Shen Y, Ye Q, Zheng L, Qian Z, Sakaue H, Nakamura K, Du J, Ji Q, Ogawa W, Sun LZ, Dong LQ, Liu F. (2012) Proliferative and Antiapoptotic Signaling Stimulated by Nuclear-Localized PDK1 Results in Oncogenesis. Sci Signal. 2012 Nov 6;5(249):ra80. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.2003065.