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Wei Liu

Assistant Professor
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 1604
Faculty Member
Faculty, TEMPE Campus, Mailcode 1604

Wei Liu joined the School of Molecular Sciences and the Biodesign Institute at ASU in 2015. He came to ASU from the Scripps Research Institute and The Ohio State University, where he spent over a decade developing new tools for studying the structure and function of membrane proteins with a focus on GPCRs involved in cancer.  

Professor Liu earned his doctorate in biophysics from The Ohio State University in 2007 under the mentorship of Professor Martin Caffrey, which ignited his passion for studying membrane proteins and developing lipidic cubic phase (LCP) technology.  He then joined the lab of Professor Raymond Stevens and Professor Vadim Cherezov at the Scripps Research Institute where he played a critical role in solving the first high-resolution structure of human adenosine A2A receptor with a novel fusion protein (BRIL) at 1.8 angstrom resolution, by far the highest resolution of all human membrane protein structures and was highlighted by Science Magazine. The scientific insights and technical advances from this initial work were used by Professor Liu and colleagues to solve the structures of 10 additional unique human GPCRs. These structures have enhanced our understanding of how GPCR folding has evolved to bind such a large and diverse pool of natural ligands. 

More recently, Professor Liu has applied his LCP crystallization methods for studying GPCRs using X-ray free electron lasers (XFEL), which does not require sample freezing, has the potential to minimize radiation damage (if any) during data collection due to the ultrashort (femtosecond) pulse duration, and only requires relatively small crystals making it much more accessible for many GPCRs recalcitrant to crystallization. He solved the first human membrane protein and GPCR structure using XFEL, the human serotonin 5-HT2B receptor. His growing body of work now encompasses over 40 peer reviewed publications, including 16 in Nature, Science and Cell journals with over 6000 citations.

  • Ph.D. Biophysics, The Ohio State University 2007
  • B.S. Pharmacology, Wuhan University, China 2002
Research Interests: 

Our research group focuses on understanding receptor-mediated biological processes involved in cancer development. Involvement of membrane receptors, such as G Protein-Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) in cancers has been extensively documented. Recent advances in the use of structural biology to characterize the behaviors of these receptors enable detailed characterization of receptor signaling as well as effective development of therapeutic agents. Orphan GPCRs are highly expressed in cancer cells. One of our research focus is on the deorphanization and characterization of orphan GPCRs. Our second focus is to use high-throughput screening approaches to identify compounds/antibodies that selectively stabilize receptors in specific conformations to facilitate crystallization and structure determination.

The general approach to address these scientific questions is built upon the top-notch technology for membrane protein structural determination, Lipid Cubic Phase (LCP), which is directed toward the understanding of membrane protein (mainly GPCRs) molecular pharmacology, the conformational changes of membrane proteins following ligand binding, and specifically, the phenomenon of biased ligand signaling where compounds with subtly different chemical structures may induce differential downstream signaling and distinct pharmacological effects.

  • J. Zook, M. Shekhar, D. Hansen, C. Conrad, T. Grant, C. Gupta, T. White, A. Barty, S. Basu, Y. Zhao, N. Zatsepin, A. Ishchenko, A. Batyuk, C. Gati, C. Li, L. Galli, J. Coe, M. Hunter, M. Liang, U. Weierstall, G. Nelson, D. James, B. Stauch, F.  Craciunescu, D. Thifault, W. Liu, V. Cherezov, A. Singharoy, P. Fromme.  XFEL and NMR Structures of Francisella Lipoprotein Reveal Conformational Space of Drug Target against Tularemia.  Structure (0).
  • A. Ishchenko, B. Stauch, G.W. Han, A. Batyuk, A. Shiriaeva, C. Li, N. Zatsepin, U. Weierstall, W. Liu, E. Nango, T. Nakane, R. Tanaka, K. Tono, Y. Joti, S. Iwata, I. Moraes, C. Gati, V. Cherezov, Toward G protein-coupled receptor structure-based drug design using X-ray lasers.  IUCRJ
  • A. Luginina, A. Gusach, E. Marin, A. Mishin, R. Brouillette, P. Popov, A. Shiriaeva, E. Besserer-Offroy, J-M Longpre, E. Lyapina, A. Ishchenko, N. Patel, V. Polovinkin, N. Safronova, A. Bogorodskiy, E. Edelweiss, H. Hu, U. Weierstall, W. Liu, A. Batyuk, V. Gordeliy, G.W. Han, P. Sarret, V. Katritch, V. Borshchevskiy, V. Cherezov, Structure-based mechanism of cysteinyl leukotriene receptor inhibition by antiasthmatic drugs.  Science Advances 
  • J. Duan, J. Li, G-L Chen, Y. Ge, J. Liu, K. Xie, X. Peng, W. Zhou, J.  Zhong, Y. Zhang, J. Xu, C. Xue, B. Liang, L. Zhu, W. Liu, C. Zhang, X-L Tian, J. Wang, D.E. Clapham, B. Zeng, Z. Li, J. Zhang, Cryo-EM structure of TRPC5 at 2.8-angstrom resolution reveals unique and conserved structural elements essential for channel function. Science Advances (2019) 
  • D. Li, S. Liu, L. Zhu, Y. Wang, Y. Chen, J. Liu, G. Hu, X. Yu, J. Li, Z. Wu, H. Lu, W. Liu*, and B. Liu*. FBXW8-dependent degradation of MRFAP1 in anaphase controls mitotic cell death. Oncotarget (0).
  • Ishchenko, Andrii ; Wacker, Daniel ; Kapoor, Mili ; Zhang, Ai ; Han, Gye Won ; Basu, Shibom ; Patel, Nilkanth ; Messerschmidt, Marc ; Weierstall, Uwe ; Liu, Wei ; Katritch, Vsevolod ; Roth, Bryan L ; Stevens, Raymond C ; Cherezov, Vadim. Structural insights into the extracellular recognition of the human serotonin 2B receptor by an antibody. Proc Natl Acad Sci (0).
  • M. Martin-Garcia, C.E. Conrad, G. Nelson, N. Stander, N.A. Zatsepin, J. Zook, L. Zhu, J. Geiger, E. Chun, D. Kissick, M.C. Hilgart, C. Ogata, A. Ishchenko, N. Nagaratnam, S. Roy-Chowdhury, J. Coe, G. Subramanian, A. Schaffer, D. James, G. Ketwala, N. Venugopalan, S. Xu, S. Corcoran, D. Ferguson, U. Weierstall, J.C. H. Spence, V. Cherezov, P. Fromme, R.F. Fischetti, W. Liu*. Serial millisecond crystallography of membrane and soluble protein microcrystals using synchrotron radiation. IUCrJ (0).
  • H. Zhang, A. Qiao, D. Yang, L. Yang, A. Dai, C. de Graaf, S. Reedtz-Runge, V. Dharmarajan, H. Zhang, G. W. Han, T.D. Grant, R.G. Sierra, U. Weierstall, G. Nelson, W. Liu, Y. Wu, L. Ma, X. Cai, G. Lin, X. Wu, Z. Geng, Y. Dong, G. Song, P.R. Griffin, J. Lau, V. Cherezov, H. Yang, M.A. Hanson, R.C. Stevens, Q.Zhao, H. Jiang, M. Wang and B. Wu. Structure of the full-length glucagon class B G-protein-coupled receptor. Nature (0).
  • H. Zhang, G.W. Han, A. Batyuk, A. Ishchenko, K.L. White, N. Patel, A. Sadybekov, B. Zamlynny, M.T. Rudd, K. Hollenstein, A. Tolstikova, T.A. White, M.S. Hunter, U. Weierstall, W. Liu, K. Bagaoglu, E.L. Moore, R.D. Katz, J.M. Shipman, M. Garcia-Calvo, S. Sharma, P. Sheth, S.M. Soisson, R.C. Stevens, V. Katritch and V. Cherezov. Structural basis for selectivity and diversity in angiotensin II receptors. Nature (0).
  • J. Xiang, E. Chun, C. Liu, L. Jing, Z. Al-Sahouri, L. Zhu, and W. Liu*. Successful Strategies to Determine High-Resolution Structures of GPCRs. Trends Pharmacol Sci (0).
  • Batyuk, L. Galli, A. Ishchenko, G.W. Han, C. Gati, P.A. Popov, M-Y Lee, B. Stauch, T.A. White, A. Barty, A. Aquila, M.S. Hunter, M. Liang, S. Boutet, M. Pu, Z-J Liu, G. Nelson, D. James, C. Li, Y. Zhao, J.C.H. Spence, W. Liu, P. Fromme, V. Katritch, U. Weierstall, R.C. Stevens and V. Cherezov. Native phasing of x-ray free-electron laser data for a G protein–coupled receptor. Science Advances (0).
  • Ishchenko, V. Cherezov, Wei Liu*. Preparation and Delivery of Protein Microcrystals in Lipidic Cubic Phase for Serial Femtosecond Crystallography. J. Vis. Exp (0).
  • T.A. White, A. Barty, W. Liu, A. Ishchenko, H. Zhang, C. Gati, N.A. Zatsepin, S. Basu, D. Oberthür, M. Metz, K.R. Beyerlein, C.H. Yoon, O.M. Yefanov, D. James, D. Wang, M. Messerschmidt, J.E. Koglin, S. Boutet, U. Weierstall, V. Cherezov. Serial femtosecond crystallography datasets from G protein-coupled receptors. Sci. Data (0).
  • L. Zhu, U. Weierstall, V. Cherezov, W. Liu*. Serial Femtosecond Crystallography of Membrane Proteins. Adv Exp Med Biol (0).
  • X.E. Zhou, X. Gao, A. Barty, Y. Kang, Y. He, W. Liu, A. Ishchenko, T.A. White, O. Yefanov, G.W. Han, Q. Xu, P. W. de Waal, K.M. Suino-Powell, S. Boutet, G.J. Williams, M. Wang, D. Li, M. Caffrey, H.N. Chapman, J.C.H. Spence, P. Fromme, U. Weierstall, R.C. Stevens, V. Cherezov, K. Melcher, H.E. Xu. X-ray laser diffraction for structure determination of the rhodopsin-arrestin complex. Sci. Data (0).
  • D. Li, P.J. Stansfeld, M.S.P. Sansom, A. Keogh, L. Vogeley, N. Howe, J.A. Lyons, D. Aragao, P. Fromme, R. Fromme, S. Basu, I. Grotjohann, C. Kupitz, K. Rendek, U. Weierstall, N.A. Zatsepin, V. Cherezov, W. Liu, S. Bandaru, N.J. English, C. Gati, A. Barty, O. Yefanov, H.N. Chapman, K. Diederichs, M. Messerschmidt, S. Boutet, G.J. Williams, M.M. Seibert, M. Caffrey. Ternary structure reveals mechanism of a membrane diacylglycerol kinase. Nat Commun (0).
  • G. Fenalti, N.A. Zatsepin, C. Betti, P. Giguere, G.W. Han, A. Ishchenko, W. Liu, K. Guillemyn, H. Zhang, D. James, D. Wang, U. Weierstall, J.C.H. Spence, S. Boutet, M. Messerschmidt, G.J. Williams, C. Gati, O.M. Yefanov, T.A. White, D. Oberthuer, M. Metz, C.H. Yoon, A. Barty, H.N. Chapman, S. Basu, J. Coe, C.E. Conrad, R. Fromme, P. Fromme, D. Tourwe, P.W. Schiller, B.L. Roth, S. Ballet, V. Katritch, R.C. Stevens, V. Cherezov. Structural basis for bifunctional peptide recognition at human delta-opioid receptor. Nat Struct Mol Biol (0).
  • H. Zhang, H. Unal, C. Gati, G.W. Han, W. Liu, N.A. Zatsepin, D. James, D. Wang, G. Nelson, U. Weierstall, M.R. Sawaya, Q. Xu, M. Messerschmidt, G.J. Williams, S. Boutet, O.M. Yefanov, T.A. White, C. Wang, A. Ishchenko, K.C. Tirupula, R. Desnoyer, J. Coe, C.E. Conrad, P. Fromme, R.C. Stevens, V. Katritch, S.S. Karnik, V. Cherezov. Structure of the Angiotensin Receptor Revealed by Serial Femtosecond Crystallography. Cell (0).
  • Raimund Fromme1, Andrii Ishchenko2, Markus Metz3, Shibom Basu1, Shatabdi Roy Chowdhury1, Petra Fromme1, Thomas A. White3, Anton Barty3, John C.H. Spence4, Uwe Weierstall4, Wei Liu1*, Vadim Cherezov2*. Serial Femtosecond Crystallography of Soluble Proteins in Lipidic Cubic Phase. IUCrJ (0).
  • Y. Kang, X.E. Zhou, X. Gao, Y. He, W. Liu, A. Ishchenko, A. Barty, T.A. White, O. Yefanov, G.W. Han, Q. Xu, P.W. de Waal, J. Ke, M.H. Tan, C. Zhang, A. Moeller, G.M. West, B.D. Pascal, N. Van Eps, L.N. Caro, S.A. Vishnivetskiy, R.J. Lee, K.M. Suino-Powell, X. Gu, K. Pal, J. Ma, X. Zhi, S. Boutet, G.J. Williams, M. Messerschmidt, C. Gati, N.A. Zatsepin, D. Wang, D. James, S. Basu, S. Roy-Chowdhury, C.E. Conrad, J. Coe, H. Liu, S. Lisova, C. Kupitz, I. Grotjohann, R. Fromme, Y. Jiang, M. Tan, H. Yang, J. Li, M. Wang, Z. Zheng, D. Li, N. Howe, Y. Zhao, J. Standfuss, K. Diederichs, Y. Dong, C.S. Potter, B. Carragher, M. Caffrey, H. Jiang, H.N. Chapman, J.C. Spence, P. Fromme, U. Weierstall, O.P. Ernst, V. Katritch, V.V. Gurevich, P.R. Griffin, W.L. Hubbell, R.C. Stevens, V. Cherezov, K. Melcher, H.E. Xu. Crystal structure of rhodopsin bound to arrestin by femtosecond X-ray laser. Nature (0).
  • S. Du*, L. Zhu*, Y. Wang*, J. Liu, D. Zhang, Y. Chen, Q. Peng, W. Liu, and B. Liu.  SENP1-mediated deSUMOylation of USP28 regulated HIF-1a; accumulation and activation during hypoxia response.  Cancer Cell Int. (0).
  • M. Audet, K.L. White, B. Breton, B. Zarzycka, G.W. Han, Y. Lu, C. Gati, A. Batyuk, P. Popov, J. Velasquez, D. Manahan, H. Hu, U. Weierstall, W. Liu, W. Shui, V. Katritch, V. Cherezov, M.A. Hanson, R.C. Stevens.  Crystal structure of misoprostol bound to the labor inducer prostaglandin E2 receptor.  Nat Chem Biol (0).
  • Z. Al-Sahouri, D. Li, W. Liu, M. Caffrey.  The lipid cubic phase as a medium for the growth of membrane protein microcrystals.  Springer International Publishing (0).
  • E. Ebola, U. Weierstall, W. Liu, V. Cherezov.  Delivery of GPCR crystals for Serial Femtosecond Crystallography. in Protein Crystallography.  Challenges and Practical Solutions (0).
  • T. Lan, J.L. Wierman, M.W. Tate, H.T. Philipp, J.M. Martin-Garcia, L. Zhu, D. Kissick, P. Fromme, R.F. Fischetti, W. Liu, V. Elser, S.M. Gruner.  Solving protein structure from sparse serial microcrystal diffraction data at a storage-ring synchrotron source.  IUCrJ (0).
  • L. Zhu, M.Y. Lee, E. Chun, B. Liu, W. Liu*.  Overview of Biochemical Assays in Lipidic Cubic Phase.  Trends Biochem Sci (0).
  • B. Stauch, L.C. Johansson, J.D. McCorvy, N. Patel, G. Han, H. Gye Won, X-P Huang; C. Gati, A. Batyuk, S.T. Slocum, A. Ishchenko, W. Brehm, T.A. White, N. Michaelian, C. Madsen, L. Zhu, T.D. Grant, J.M. Grandner, A. Shiriaeva, R.H.J. Olsen, A.R. Tribo, S. Yous, R.C. Stevens, U. Weierstall, V. Katritch, B.L. Roth, W. Liu, V. Cherezov.  Structural basis of ligand recognition at the human MT1 melatonin receptor.  Nature (2019).  
  • J. M. Martin-Garcia, L. Zhu, D. Mendez, M-Y Lee, E. Chun, C. Li, H. Hu, G. Subramanian,  D. Kissick, C. Ogata, R. Henning, A. Ishchenko, Z. Dobson, S. Zhang, U. Weierstall, J.C.H. Spence, P. Fromme, N.A. Zatsepin, R.F. Fischetti, V. Cherezov, W. Liu.  High-viscosity injector-based pink-beam serial crystallography of microcrystals at a synchrotron radiation source. IUCRJ (2019). 
  • E. Marin, A. Gusach, A. Luginina, K. Kovalev, W. Liu, U. Weierstall, H.K. Nam, Y. Cho, A. Mishin, V.  Borshchevskiy, V. Cherezov.  Successful GPCR structure determination using PAL XFEL.  Journal of Bioenergetics and Biomembranes (2018).
Fall 2020
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 367Elementary Biochemistry Lab
BCH 494Special Topics
BCH 501Current Topics in Biochemistry
BCH 598Special Topics
Fall 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 494Special Topics
BCH 501Current Topics in Biochemistry
BCH 598Special Topics
Spring 2019
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 462General Biochemistry
Fall 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 462General Biochemistry
Spring 2018
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 462General Biochemistry
Fall 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 494Special Topics
BCH 501Current Topics in Biochemistry
BCH 598Special Topics
Spring 2017
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 462General Biochemistry
Fall 2016
Course NumberCourse Title
BCH 501Current Topics in Biochemistry
BCH 598Special Topics
  • Graduate Student Recruitment for China, Team member visit China for student recruiting. (2015 - Present)
  • Committee on Bylaws, Committee member (2015 - Present)
  • International accelerated master's program for ASU, Founder for 3+1+1 program. (2015 - Present)
  • West Coast Protein Crystallography Workshop XXII / 2015., Meeting Session Chair - "Crystallization and data collection". (2015 - Present)
  • MCB Graduate Program Admission Committee., Review student applications. (2015 - Present)
  • Journal of Visualized Experiments, Editorial Board Member (2011 - Present)