Weihong Hou, PhD
Liver, Digestive and Metabolic Disorders Laboratory
Cannon Research Center
Prior Positions and Experience
||Research Scientist, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC
||Senior Postdoctoral Fellow, Carolinas Medical Center, Charlotte, NC
||Postdoctoral Fellow, University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT
||Associate Professor, Zhengzhou University Medical College, Zhengzhou, China
||Lecturer, Henan Medical University, Zhengzhou, China
||Teaching Assistant, Henan Medical University, Zhengzhou, China
2003-2006: PhD (Molecular Biology), Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, China
1986-1989: MS (Biochemistry), Dalian Medical University, Dalian, China
1982-1986: BS (Chemistry), Henan University, Kaifeng, China
Dr. Hou’s main research interest is focused on investigating the regulation of heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1) and Bach1 in hepatocytes. HO-1 is the initial and rate-controlling enzyme involved in heme degradation to biliverdin, carbon monoxide and ferrous iron. The main functions of the cytoprotective enzyme HO-1 include anti-oxidative and anti-inflammatory activities. Bach1 is a basic leucine zipper (bZip) mammalian transcriptional repressor of HO-1. The evidence is clear that oxidative stress occurs in chronic liver disease. The long-term goal is to elucidate the molecular mechanism underlying Bach1 expression and to develop therapeutic agents for treatment of chronic liver diseases, in particular, chronic hepatitis C and liver fibrogenesis.
The regulation of Bach1 gene expression by microRNAs (miRNAs) remains unclear. miRNAs are 19- to 23-nuceotide non-coding small RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression by binding to the 3’-untranslated region (3’-UTR) or to the coding region of target mRNAs. Bach1 possesses long sequences of 3’-UTR that may include targets for miRNAs. By employing miRNAs target software, a set of miRNAs have been predicted to bind to Bach1 3’-UTR. Dr. Hou is using cell culture-based system expressing HCV proteins to test these candidate miRNAs.
Selected metalloporphyrins, particularly cobalt protoporphyrin (CoPP) and zinc mesoporphyrin (ZnMP), up-regulate the HO-1 gene expression in hepatocytes. The mechanism by which this occurs is imperfectly understood. We recently found that ZnMP up-regulates HO-1 gene expression by inducing Bach1 protein degradation in a proteasome-dependent manner. To gain further insight into the molecular mechanism, Dr. Hou is exploring the specific ubiquitin ligase E3 involved in the ubiquitin-proteasome degradation of Bach1 by ZnMP in hepatocytes.
In addition, Dr. Hou is interested in traditional Chinese herbal medicines for treatment of chronic liver disease. She is investigating the mechanism underlying the effects of selected Chinese medicines for treatment of chronic liver disease including chronic hepatitis C and liver fibrogenesis.
Hou W, Tian Q, Zheng J, Bonkovsky HL. Zinc mesoporphyrin induces rapid proteasomal degradation of hepatitis C nonstructural 5A protein in human hepatoma cells. Gastroenterology, 2010, 138(5):1909-1919. [PMID: 19909748].
Hou W, Tian Q, Zheng J, Bonkovsky HL.MicroRNA-196 represses Bach1 expression in human hepatoma cells stably expressing hepatitis C viral proteins. Hepatology, 2010, 51(2):690-698. [PMID: 20127796]
Zhang L, Wang G, Hou W, Li P, Dulin A, Bonkovsky HL. Contemporary clinical research of traditional Chinese medicines for chronic hepatitis B in China: an analytical review. Hepatology, 2010, 51(2):690-698. [PMID: 20101751]
Hou WH, Rossi L, Shan Y, Zheng JY, Lambrecht RW, Bonkovsky HL. Iron increases HMOX1 and decreases hepatitis C viral expression in HCV-expressing cells. World J Gastroenterol, 2009, 15(36):4499-510. [PMID: 19777608]
Hou W, Shan Y, Zheng J, Lambrecht RW, Donohue SE, Bonkovsky HL. Zinc mesoporphyrin induces rapid and marked degradation of the transcription factor Bach1 and up-regulates HO-1. Biochim Biophys Acta 2008; 1779 (3):195-203. [PMID: 18325350]
Zheng J, Tian Q, Hou W, Watts JA, Schrum LW, Bonkovsky HL. Tissue-specific expression of ALA synthase-1 and heme oxygenase-1 and their expression in livers of rats chronically exposed to ethanol. FEBS Let, 2008, 582(13):1829-34. [PMID: 18472004]
Wang T, Xue L, Hou W, Yang B, Chai Y, Ji X, Wang Y. Increased expression of transgene in stably transformed cells of Dunaliella salina by matrix attachment regions. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2007, 76(3):651-657. [PMID: 17611755]
Hou W, Fang T, Chai Y, Wang T, Wang J, Xue L. Expression of recombinant kringle 1-5 domains of human plasminogen by a prokaryote expression system. Protein Expr Purif 2006; 47: 93-98. [PMID: 16510293]
Current, Recent and Pending Grant Support
Grant Title: Pilot study of matrine for treatment of hepatitis C virus infection
Funding Agency: NC TraCS
Role: Principal Investigator
Grant Title: A murine model for hepatitis C
Funding Agency: CHS
Role: Principal Investigator
Grant Title: Pilot study of intravenous Panhematin for chronic hepatitis C
Funding Agency: Lundbeck
Grant Title: Regulation of Hepatic Heme Metabolism
Funding Agency: NIH, NIDDK - R01 Award
Role: Co-Principal Investigator