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Helen Yicheng Wang,

Associate Research Professor of Inflammation and Epigenetics, Institute for Academic Medicine
Associate Research Member, Research Institute
Houston Methodist


Ms. Wang began her research training at the University of Georgia and Stanford University School of Medicine in the fields of molecular biology and biochemistry. In 1994, she joined the American Red-Cross Laboratory, and later moved to the National Institute of Health as a biologist. During that time, she became interested in immunology, focusing on cytokine biology, signaling transduction, and T-cell biology in autoimmune diseases.

Ms. Wang was appointed assistant professor at Baylor College of Medicine in 2007, and assistant member at The Methodist Hospital Research Institute in 2012. At Baylor College of Medicine, Ms. Wang identified T-cell recognized tumor antigens that can be engineered for the development of novel cancer vaccines. Ms. Wang’s research at Baylor College of Medicine provided the first evidence that antigen-specific regulatory T (Treg) cells dampen antitumor immunity elicited by cancer vaccines. She later showed that this suppressive function of Treg cells can be reversed by activating innate immune receptors.

Ms. Wang now directs a T Cell Biology laboratory that is studying a set of critical immune targets associated with cancer, obesity and neurodegenerative diseases and subsets of T cells. The goal of these studies is to develop novel vaccines or drugs for the prevention and treatment of cancer, obesity and neurodegenerative diseases.

Description of Research

Ms. Wang’s team studies the role of T cells in antigen recognition and immune regulation. Her projects include identifying mechanisms of cytokine signaling in immune cells, tumor antigen discovery, and defining mechanisms of regulatory T cell function and innate immune signaling. A critical goal of her research is to identify antigens that are recognized by various T cells, including Th1, Th17 and Treg cells. This knowledge is essential for understanding how the host immune system responds to cancer, obesity and neurodegenerative diseases, and provides important therapeutic targets for development of effective vaccines against cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.

Ms. Wang also works on understanding innate immune signaling pathways, in particular Toll-like receptor (TLR8) signaling in the reversal of regulatory T cell suppressive functions. Negative regulators play a critical role in controlling immune balance and inflammation, which has been linked to the development of cancer and many other diseases. Her team is therefore investigating how to improve immune responses by reducing the levels of these negative regulators in immune cells. These research findings have the potential to translate into novel therapeutics for diseases such as cancer, obesity and inflammation-associated diseases like ALS.

Areas Of Expertise

Cancer immunology Cancer immunotherapy Innate immune signaling Tumor Antigen Discovery Engineering T cell Therapy IEpigenetics

Impact of microbiota on central nervous system and neurological diseases: The gut-brain axis
Ma, Q, Xing, C, Long, W, Wang, HY, Liu, Q & Wang, R 2019, Journal of Neuroinflammation, vol. 16, no. 1, 53.

Inflammasome activation negatively regulates MyD88-IRF7 type I IFN signaling and anti-malaria immunity
Yu, X, Du, Y, Cai, C, Cai, B, Zhu, M, Xing, C, Tan, P, Lin, M, Wu, J, Li, J, Wang, M, Wang, HY, Su, X & Wang, R-F 2018, Nature Communications, vol. 9, no. 1.

Tgfbr2 inactivation facilitates cellular plasticity and development of Pten-null prostate cancer
Zhao, W, Zhu, Q, Tan, P, Ajibade, A, Long, T, Long, W, Li, Q, Liu, P, Ning, B, Wang, HY & Wang, R 2018, Journal of molecular cell biology, vol. 10, no. 4, pp. 316-330.

PHF20 collaborates with PARP1 to promote stemness and aggressiveness of neuroblastoma cells through activation of SOX2 and OCT4
Long, W, Zhao, W, Ning, B, Huang, J, Chu, J, Li, L, Ma, Q, Xing, C, Wang, HY, Liu, Q & Wang, R 2018, Journal of Molecular Cell Biology, vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 147-160.

Co-delivery of tumor antigen and dual toll-like receptor ligands into dendritic cell by silicon microparticle enables efficient immunotherapy against melanoma
Zhu, M, Ding, X, Zhao, R, Liu, X, Shen, H, Cai, C, Ferrari, M, Wang, HY & Wang, RF 2018, Journal of Controlled Release, vol. 272, pp. 72-82.

DHX29 functions as a RNA co-sensor for MDA5-mediated EMCV-specific antiviral immunity
Zhu, Q, Tan, P, Li, Y, Lin, M, Li, C, Mao, J, Cui, J, Zhao, W, Wang, HY & Wang, R 2018, PLoS Pathogens, vol. 14, no. 2, e1006886.

Cancer Stem Cells and Immunosuppressive Microenvironment in Glioma
Ma, Q, Long, W, Xing, C, Chu, J, Luo, M, Wang, HY, Liu, Q & Wang, R 2018, Frontiers in immunology, vol. 9.

Assembly of the WHIP-TRIM14-PPP6C Mitochondrial Complex Promotes RIG-I-Mediated Antiviral Signaling
Tan, P, He, L, Cui, J, Qian, C, Cao, X, Lin, M, Zhu, Q, Li, Y, Xing, C, Yu, X, Wang, HY & Wang, RF 2017, Molecular Cell, vol. 68, no. 2, pp. 293-307.e5.

Immune targets and neoantigens for cancer immunotherapy and precision medicine
Wang, R & Wang, HY 2017, Cell Research, vol. 27, no. 1, pp. 11-37.

Cross-Regulation of Two Type I Interferon Signaling Pathways in Plasmacytoid Dendritic Cells Controls Anti-malaria Immunity and Host Mortality
Yu, X, Cai, B, Wang, M, Tan, P, Ding, X, Wu, J, Li, J, Li, Q, Liu, P, Xing, C, Wang, HY, Su, XZ & Wang, R 2016, Immunity, vol. 45, no. 5, pp. 1093-1107.

JMJD3 as an epigenetic regulator in development and disease
Burchfield, JS, Li, Q, Wang, HY & Wang, R 2015, International Journal of Biochemistry and Cell Biology, vol. 67, 4662, pp. 148-157.

Identification of DRG-1 as a melanoma-associated antigen recognized by CD4<sup>+</sup> Th1 cells
Kiniwa, Y, Li, J, Wang, M, Sun, C, Lee, JE, Wang, RF & Wang, HY 2015, PLoS ONE, vol. 10, no. 5, e0124094.

Current advances in T-cell-based cancer immunotherapy
Wang, M, Yin, B, Wang, HY & Wang, R 2014, Immunotherapy, vol. 6, no. 12, pp. 1265-1278.

Mechanisms and pathways of innate immune activation and regulation in health and cancer
Cui, J, Chen, Y, Wang, HY & Wang, RF 2014, Human Vaccines and Immunotherapeutics, vol. 10, no. 11, pp. 3270-3285.

Critical role of histone demethylase Jmjd3 in the regulation of CD4 + T-cell differentiation
Li, Q, Zou, J, Wang, M, Ding, X, Chepelev, I, Zhou, X, Zhao, W, Wei, G, Cui, J, Zhao, K, Wang, HY & Wang, RF 2014, Nature communications, vol. 5, 5780.

The future potential for cocaine vaccines
Orson, FM, Wang, R, Brimijoin, S, Kinsey, BM, Singh, RAK, Ramakrishnan, M, Wang, HY & Kosten, TR 2014, Expert Opinion on Biological Therapy, vol. 14, no. 9, pp. 1271-1283.

USP3 inhibits type i interferon signaling by deubiquitinating RIG-I-like receptors
Cui, J, Song, Y, Li, Y, Zhu, Q, Tan, P, Qin, Y, Wang, HY & Wang, RF 2014, Cell Research, vol. 24, no. 4, pp. 400-416.

HLA-restricted NY-ESO-1 peptide immunotherapy for metastatic castration resistant prostate cancer
Sonpavde, G, Wang, M, Peterson, LE, Wang, HY, Joe, T, Mims, MP, Kadmon, D, Ittmann, MM, Wheeler, TM, Gee, AP, Wang, R & Hayes, TG 2014, Investigational New Drugs, vol. 32, no. 2, pp. 235-242.

Stage-Dependent and Locus-Specific Role of Histone Demethylase Jumonji D3 (JMJD3) in the Embryonic Stages of Lung Development
Li, Q, Wang, HY, Chepelev, I, Zhu, Q, Wei, G, Zhao, K & Wang, RF 2014, PLoS Genetics, vol. 10, no. 7, e1004524.

Cell type-specific function of TAK1 in innate immune signaling
Ajibade, AA, Wang, HY & Wang, R 2013, Trends in Immunology, vol. 34, no. 7, pp. 307-316.

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