Feng XU

Adjunct Assistant Professor


Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, NUS.
Principal Investigator, Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, A*STAR.


Degree and Institution Year(s)
PhD, State Key Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Shanghai Institute of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences (Shanghai, China)
Major: Molecular Biology
Bachelor of Science, Department of Biochemistry, Nanjing University (Nanjing, China)
Major: Biochemistry

Professional Experience

Position and Institute Year(s)
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, NUS 2013-Present
Principal Investigator – Growth, Development and Metabolism Programme, Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences, A*STAR
Research Interest: Epigenetic gene regulation mechanisms that control adipogenesis.
Post-doctoral Research – Dr. Michael Grunstein’s lab, Molecular Biology Institute, Department of Biological Chemistry, Geffen School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles, USA.
Research Interest: Role of histone modifications (especially the histone H3 globular domain acetylation mark on lysine 56) in eukaryotic gene regulation.

Research Interest

Obesity and its related diseases such as diabetes increasingly are responsible for significant economic and social burdens in both established and emerging countries. For instance, diabetes alone, is affecting more than 170 million people worldwide. As such, understanding the molecular mechanism that controls adipose (fat) cell differentiation would greatly enhance our ability to solve these problems. Adipogenesis is a complex physiological process that requires concerted regulation of gene expression by various adipogenic factors. Among these regulators are many histone modifying enzymes and chromatin remodelers, suggesting that epigenetic mechanisms play essential roles in modulating adipogenesis. In addition to histone modifications, microRNA represents another major group of epigenetic regulators involved in diverse physiological processes including adipogenesis. Our current research centers on the function of histone modifications and microRNAs in white adipocyte differentiation. And we are extending our research to the epigenetic control of brown adipocyte differentiation as well as lineage commitment from multipotent stem cells. To fully decipher the epigenetic mechanisms controlling adipogenesis and lineage commitment, we utilize the advanced genomic and proteomic methodologies as well as classic biochemistry and molecular biology techniques in our study. Besides our basic research into the molecular mechanism of adipogenesis, we are also interested in identifying potential drug targets to treat obesity and metabolic diseases such as diabetes.

Selected Publications

  1. Ramlee, M.K., Zhang, Q.Z., Idris, M., Peng, X., Sim, C.K., Han, W.P. and Xu, F. * (2014) Histone H3 K27 acetylation marks a potent enhancer for the adipogenic master regulator gene Pparg2. Cell Cycle. 2014 Nov 14, 13:21, 3414-3422.

  2. Peng, X., Wu, J.Y., Brunmeir, R., Kim, S.Y., Zhang, Q.Y., Ding, C.M., Han, W.P., Xie, W. and Xu, F. * (2014) TELP, a sensitive and versatile library construction method for next-generation sequencing. Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Sep 15.

  3. Gao, M. ǂ, Sim, C.K. ǂ, Leung, C., Hu, Q.L., Feng, G.X., Xu, F.* Tang, B.Z.* and Liu, B.* (2014) A fluorescent light-up probe for specific mitochondrial imaging to identify differentiating brown adipose cells. Chemical Communications. 2014 Aug 7; 50(61), 8312-8315.

  4. Zhang, Q.Y., Ramlee, M.K., Brunmeir, R., Villanueva, C.J., Halperin, D. and Xu, F. * (2012) Dynamic and distinct histone modifications modulate the expression of key adipogenesis regulatory genes. Cell Cycle 11:23, 4310–4322.

  5. Yang, W.L., Thein, S., Lim, C.Y., Ericksen, R.E., Sugii, S., Xu, F., Robinson, R., Kim, J.B. and Han, W.P.* (2014) Arp2/3 complex regulates adipogenesis by controlling cortical actin remodeling. Biochemical Journal. 2014 Dec 1;464(2):179-92.

  6. Nicholas, D., Tang, H., Zhang, Q.Y., Xu, F., Langridge, W. and Zhang, K.L.* (2014) Protein profiling reveals dynamic H1 expression and histone modifications during human monocyte differentiation. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics. 2014 Oct 14.

  7. Yang, W.L., Thein, S., Wang, X.R., Bi, X.Z., Ericksen, R.E., Xu, F., Han, W.P.* (2014) BSCL2 / seipin regulates adipogenesis through actin cytoskeleton remodeling. Human Molecular Genetics. 2014 Jan 15; 23(2), 502-513.

  8. Yang, W.L., Thein, S., Guo, X.X., Xu, F., Venkatesh, B., Sugii, S., Radda, G.K., and Han, W.P.* (2013) Seipin differentially regulates lipogenesis and adipogenesis through a conserved core sequence and an evolutionarily acquired C-terminus. Biochemical Journal. 452, 37-44.

  9. Yang, W.L., Guo, X.X., Thein, S., Xu, F., Sugii, S., Baas, P.B., Radda, G.K., and Han, W.P.* (2013) Regulation of adipogenesis by katanin-mediated cytoskeleton remodeling is facilitated by MEC-17-dependent acetylation of a-tubulin. Biochemical Journal 449, 605–612.

  10. Villanueva, C.J., Vergnes, L., Drew, B., Tu, Y.P., Hu, Y., Peng, X., Xu, F., Saez, E., Wroblewski, K., Hevener, A., Reue, K., Fong, L.G., Young, S.G. and Tontonoz, P.* (2013) Adipose subtype-selective recruitment of TLE3 or Prdm16 by PPARγ specifies lipid storage versus thermogenic gene programs. Cell Metabolism 17, 423–435.

  11. Xie, W., Song, C., Young, N.L., Sperling, A.S., Xu, F., Sridharan, R., Conway, A.E., Garcia, B.A., Plath, K., Clark, A.T. and Grunstein, M. (2009) Histone H3 lysine 56 acetylation is linked to the core transcriptional network in human embryonic stem cells. Molecular Cell. 33, 417-427.

  12. Xu, F., Zhang, Q.Y., Zhang, K.L., Xie, W. and Grunstein, M. (2007) Sir2 Deacetylates Histone H3 Lysine 56 to Regulate Telomeric Heterochromatin Structure in Yeast. Molecular Cell. 27, 890-900.

  13. Millar, C.B., Xu, F., Zhang, K.L. and Grunstein, M. (2006) Acetylation of H2AZ Lys 14 is associated with genome-wide gene activity in yeast. Genes & Development. 20 (6), 711-722.

  14. Xu, F., Zhang, K.L. and Grunstein, M. (2005) Acetylation in Histone H3 Globular Domain Regulates Gene Expression in Yeast. Cell. 121,375-385.

  15. Xu, F., Chen, X.L., Xin, L., Chen, L., Jin, Y.X. and Wang, D.B. (2001) Species-Specific Differences in the Operational RNA Code for Aminoacylation of tRNATrp. Nucleic Acids Res. 29, 4125-4133.