Student working on a research project.

Understanding The Role Of Proteoglycan In Bone Biology

The main interest of the lab is to understand how proteins interact with heparan sulfate (HS), the most acidic macromolecules made by animal cells. We are particularly interested in how HS proteoglycan regulates bone remodeling and inflammation. Universally expressed by all mammalian cells, HS proteoglycan is a major and often dominant component of the landscape at the cell surface and thus plays essential roles in cell signaling, cell-cell interactions and host-pathogen interactions. At the cell surface, HS interacts with hundreds of HS–binding proteins, many of which are important drug targets (such as TNF-alpha, interleukin-8 and FGF receptors). The dependence of these proteins on HS for normal function suggests that disrupting HS–protein interaction could be an effective means to block the activity of these HS-binding proteins. The goal of the lab is to dissect the structural determinants of HS–protein interactions by characterizing structures of HS/protein complexes, and to use this information to develop and test the pre-clinical efficacy of novel therapeutic agents (including monoclonal antibodies, oligosaccharides and small molecules) that target HS-protein interactions in cellular and animal models. The Xu lab is highly multidisciplinary and will offer students unparalleled exposure to a wide-range of techniques from molecular biology to biochemistry and biophysics, and to cell biology and animal models.

Research Project Information

Disciplines: Biology, Biomedical Engineering, bioengineering, chemistry, pharmaceutical sciences,
Student Skill-Set Needed: Previous lab skill highly preferred but not required. Highly motivated for research.
Compensation: Academic Credit, Salary / Stipend
Available: Fall, Spring, Summer


For further information on this opportunity, or to apply, contact:

Faculty Member: Ding Xu
Title: Assistant Professor
Department: Oral Biology
Office: 109c Foster Hall