Department of Cellular and Structural Biology

CSB Faculty


LuZhe Sun, Ph.D.



Rutgers University and UMDNJ-Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, 1990


MED 2.020V.1
(210) 567-5746


Dr. Sun serves as Co-Leader of Cell & Molecular Biology (CMB) Track of the Integrated Multidisciplinary Graduate Program (IMGP) and Associate Director for Translational Research at Cancer Treatment and Research Center. He participated in the discovery of the tumor suppressive activity of the transforming growth factor beta type II receptor in human colon carcinomas. His lab pioneered the use of a soluble TGFβ type III receptor and a TGFβ receptor kinase inhibitor for the inhibition of cancer growth, angiogenesis, and metastasis in various xenograft models of late stage human cancers. He serves as course director for the CMB Track core course - Advanced Cell and Molecular Biology. Dr. Sun has regularly been invited to serve on grant review panels for NIH and Department of Defense.


My laboratory studies molecular mechanisms that regulate carcinogenesis and cancer cell growth, invasion, and metastasis using molecular and cellular biology techniques and animal model systems. One of the molecules we are currently studying is called transforming growth factor beta (TGFβ). This growth factor has been shown to inhibit tumorigenesis and growth of some early-stage adenocarcinoma cells, yet stimulate cancer survival, stem cell phenotype, and metastasis in late-stage carcinoma cells. We are investigating molecular mechanisms that switch TGFβ from tumor-suppressing to tumor-promoting and the role of TGFβ signaling in tumor microenvironment in driving tumor progression. We are also developing therapeutic approaches involving TGF beta antagonists to block cancer metastasis.


Systemic administration of a TGF beta type I receptor kinase inhibitor (TbRI-I) reduced breast cancer cell-induced metastatic tumor incidence and tumor burden in femora of nude mice.


Other projects in the laboratory include the role of estrogen and androgen signaling in promoting tumorigenesis and progression in the mammary gland and prostate gland, respectively. More recently, we have started to investigate the effect of aging on the function, genomic integrity, and susceptibility to transformation of mammary stem cells. Our approaches to study regulation of gene expression include transcriptional and posttranscriptional analyses with techniques such as DNA microarray, promoter activity measurements, polymerase chain reaction, quantitative real-time RT-PCR, receptor cross-linking, immunoprecipitation and Western blotting analyses. To study gene functions, we use gene transfection, RNA interference, and viral transduction techniques to regulate gene expression and study the effects of altered gene expression on malignant phenotypes of cancer cells in tissue culture and in mice.


Research Techniques:
Cell culture
Cell proliferation assays
Cell transfection with DNA and RNA
Chromosome immunoprecipitation assay
Immunocytofluorescence staining
Immunoprecipitation and Western blotting
Promoter reporter assay
Receptor cross-linking
Recombinant protein expression and purification
RNA interference
RT-PCR and real time PCR
Stem cell culture
Viral transduction
Experimental models of tumorigenesis, angiogenesis, and metastasis using mice


Mukhopadhyay KD, Bandyopadhyay A, Chang TT, Elkahloun AG, Cornell JE, Yang J, Goins BA, Yeh IT, Sun LZ. (2011) Isolation and characterization of a metastatic hybrid cell line generated by ER negative and ER positive breast cancer cells in mouse bone marrow. PLoS One. 2011;6(6):e20473.


Mishra S, Tang Y, Wang L, deGraffenried L, Yeh IT, Werner S, Troyer D, Copland JA, Sun LZ. (2011) Blockade of transforming growth factor-beta (TGFβ) signaling inhibits osteoblastic tumorigenesis by a novel human prostate cancer cell line. Prostate. 2011 Sep 15;71(13):1441-54. doi: 10.1002/pros.21361.


Bandyopadhyay A, Wang L, Agyin J, Tang Y, Lin S, Yeh IT, De K, Sun LZ. (2010) Doxorubicin in combination with a small TGFbeta inhibitor: a potential novel therapy for metastatic breast cancer in mouse models. PLoS One. 2010 Apr 28;5(4):e10365.


Zhou B, Huang C, Yang J, Lu J, Dong Q, Sun LZ. (2009) Preparation of heteroduplex enhanced green fluorescent protein plasmid for in vivo mismatch repair activity assay. Anal Biochem. 2009 May 1;388(1):167-9.


Verona EV, Tang Y, Millstead TK, Hinck AP, Agyin JK, Sun LZ. (2008) Expression, purification and characterization of BG(E)RII: a novel pan-TGFbeta inhibitor. Protein Eng Des Sel. 2008 Jul;21(7):463-73.