My major research interest is to dissect the signaling pathways and their target genes that regulate the ovarian functions in mammalian species.

Ovary is the female reproductive organ that produces fertilizable female germ cells (oocytes) and sexual hormones. Follicle development, ovulation and luteinization are tightly regulated by follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). I have generated multiple granulosa cell or oocyte-specific gene knockout and transgenic mouse models, to dissect the gonadotropin-activated signaling pathways and their target genes that regulate the ovarian functions. My recent studies have shown that the PI3K/AKT pathway is involved in the regulation of granulosa cell proliferation and apoptosis, whereas EGF receptor/RAS/ERK1/2 cascade is essential for LH-induced oocyte maturation, ovulation and luteinization. By microarray analysis, I have identified numerous LH regulated genes during ovulation, and determined which of them are under the control of RAS/ERK1/2 cascade. We will continue to investigate the functions of these novel LH target genes in the mammalian ovaries, as well as other signaling molecules involved in follicle development and ovulation.

While the precisely regulated signaling events maintain the normal ovarian functions, the aberrant expressions or activations of essential signaling molecules lead to ovarian disorders such as premature ovarian failure (POF), polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) and ovarian cancers. I also study the signaling pathways that play important roles in the development of ovarian cancers and premature ovarian failure, using both human and mouse ovarian tissue and cells.

These studies will not only contribute to the basic research of mammalian reproductive biology, but also have potentials of wide application in human clinics (i.e. contraception, assistant reproduction, therapies of endocrine disease and ovarian cancers), farm animal reproduction, and genetic conservation of endangered mammalian species.