Laminin: laminin, a large family of extracellular matrix protein, is a trimer composed of α, β, and γ subunits. So far, five α, four β, and three γ subunits have been identified. Different combination of these subunits generates a large number of laminin isoforms, making laminin difficult to study. What makes it more complex/interesting is that different cells generate distinct laminin isoforms. Due to this intrinsic complexity, laminin is currently understudied.

Basement Membrane: the basement membrane (BM) is a thin layer of highly organized matrix. It consists mainly of laminin, collagen, nidogen, and heparan sulfate proteoglycans. Among these proteins, laminin is the only one that is absolutely required for BM formation.

In the brain, the BM is located at the abluminal side of blood vessels, serving as the non-cellular component of the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB). Although BBB research has attracted a lot of attention, the vast majority of BBB studies focus on its cellular components (endothelial cells, astrocytes, and pericytes). The Yao Lab is studying if and how the BM regulates BBB integrity in both physiological and pathological conditions (see Brain Project).

In skeletal muscle, the BM wraps individual muscle fibers and has direct contact with multiple stem/progenitor populations, including pericytes. Previous studies have shown that pericytes can differentiate into either myogenic cells contributing to muscle regeneration or adipogenic/fibrogenic cells contributing to muscle degeneration. What and how regulates the fate determination of pericytes, however, remain unclear. Given the close relationship between laminin-rich BM and pericytes, we are testing the hypothesis that laminin regulates the differentiation and fate determination of muscle pericytes (see Muscle Project).

1. Understand how laminin/BM regulates BBB integrity in physiological and pathological conditions;
2. Investigate the roles of laminin in pericyte differentiation and/or fate determination;
3. Identify underlying molecular targets and develop novel therapies for various neurological disorders and muscular dystrophy.

Dr. Yao Yao

Yao Yao, Ph.D.: Recent Publications

View Dr. Yao's CV

1. Xi Kuang, Yao Yao, Jun-Rong Du, Yan-Xin Liu, Cheng-Yuan Wang, Zhong-Ming Qian. Neuroprotective role of Z-ligustilide against forebrain ischemic injury in ICR mice. Brain Research 2006, 1102(1): 145-153.

2. Jun-Rong Du, Yan Yu, Yao Yao, Bo Bai, Xu Zong, Cheng-Yuan Wang, Zhong-Ming Qian. Ligustilide reduces phenylephrine induced-aortic tension in vitro but has no effect on systolic pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats. The American Journal of Chinese Medicine 2007, 35(3): 487-496.

3. Yao Yao, Stella E Tsirka. The C-terminus of mouse monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 (MCP1) mediates MCP1 dimerization while blocking its chemotactic potency. Journal of Biological Chemistry 2010, 285(41): 31509-31516.

4. Yao Yao, Stella E Tsirka. Truncation of monocyte chemoattractant protein 1 by plasmin promotes blood-brain barrier disruption. Journal of Cell Science 2011, 124 (Pt 9): 1486-1495.

5. Yao Yao, Stella E Tsirka. Mouse MCP1 C-terminus inhibits human MCP1-induced chemotaxis and BBB compromise. Journal of Neurochemistry 2011, 118 (2): 215-223.

6. Yao Yao, Stella E Tsirka. The CCL2-CCR2 system affects the progression and clearance of intracerebral hemorrhage. Glia 2012, 60 (6): 908-918.

7. Yao Yao, Stella E Tsirka. Chemokines and Their Receptors in Intracerebral Hemorrhage. Translational Stroke Research 2012, 3 (suppl. 1): 70-79.

8. Zu-Lin Chen, Yao Yao, Erin H. Norris, Anna Kruyer, Odella Jno-Charles, Akbarshakh Akhmerov, and Sidney Strickland. Ablation of astrocytic laminin leads to hemorrhagic stroke and impairs vascular smooth muscle cell differentiation. Journal of Cell Biology 2013, 202(2): 381-395.

9. Yao Yao, Zu-Lin Chen, Erin H. Norris, and Sidney Strickland. Astrocytic laminin regulates blood-brain barrier integrity and pericyte differentiation. Nature Communications 2014, 5: 3413.

10. Yao Yao*, Stella E Tsirka. Monocyte Chemoattractant Protein-1 and Blood-Brain Barrier. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 2014, 71(4): 683-697.

11. Yarong He#, Yao Yao#, Stella E. Tsirka, Yu Cao. Cell-Culture Models of the Blood-Brain Barrier. Stroke 2014, 45(8): 2514-2526. (#These authors contributed equally to this work)

12. Yao Yao*, Stella E Tsirka. Mouse Monocyte Chemoattractant Protein 1 (MCP1) Functions as a Monomer. The International Journal of Biochemistry & Cell Biology 2014, 55C: 51-59.

13. Yao Yao, Erin H. Norris, Sidney Strickland, The cellular origin of laminin determines its role in blood pressure regulation. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 2015, 72: 999-1008.

14. Yao Yao*, Erin H. Norris, Christopher Mason, and Sidney Strickland*. Laminin regulates PDGFRβ+ cell stemness and muscle development. Nature Communications 2016, 7: 11415.
Commented on Rockefeller's Newswire:
Highlighted on DM Research News by Myotonic Dystrophy Foundation:

15. Young Cheul Chung, Anna Kruyer, Yao Yao, Emily Feierman, Allison Richards, Sidney Strickland, Erin H. Norris. Hyperhomocysteinemia exacerbates Alzheimer's disease pathology by way of the Aβ-fibrinogen interaction. Journal of Thrombosis and Haemostasis 2016, 14: 1-11.

16. Jyoti Gautam, Xuanming Zhang, and Yao Yao*. The role of pericytic laminin in blood brain barrier integrity maintenance. Scientific Reports 2016, 6: 36450.

17. Yao Yao*. Laminin: loss of function studies. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences 2017, 74: 1095-1115.

18. Jyoti Gautam, Abhijit Nirwane, and Yao Yao*. Laminin differentially regulates the stemness of type I and type II pericytes. Stem Cell Research & Therapy 2017, 8: 28.

19. Abhijit Nirwane, Jyoti Gautam, and Yao Yao*. Isolation of type I and type II pericytes from mouse skeletal muscles. Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE) 2017, 123: e55904.

*Corresponding Author

Contact Dr. Yao:

Yao Yao, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor
Department of Pharmaceutical & Biomedical Sciences
College of Pharmacy
The University of Georgia
Office phone:706-542-1430
Office:Room 340, Pharmacy South

Yao Lab at UGA

Link to current research project

Current Projects

Currently, Dr. Yao's lab is working on two major projects: the Brain Project and the Muscle Project.

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Link to lab members directory

Yao Lab Members

Meet the members of Yao Lab at UGA.

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Link to lab news

Yao Lab News

January 2018--Yao Lab welcomes Jessica Johnson

December 2017--Yao Lab welcomes Lingling Xu

October 2017--Yao Lab welcomes Ben Nguyen

September 2017--Dr. Yao wins the Southern Translational Education and Research (STaR) Young Investigator Award for excellence in clinical and translational science.

August 2017--Welcome Pooja Mohanty to the Yao Lab

July 2017--Yao Lab moves to UGA in Athens, GA

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Link to positions available

Positions Available

We are constantly looking for highly motivated undergraduate students, graduate students, and postdoctoral researchers.

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