Dr. Lau is an internationally recognized investigator in the Y chromosome biology and an established expert in molecular genetics and transgenic mouse modeling of human diseases. He has established various molecular tools in his laboratory, installed advanced next generation sequencing equipment and bioinformatics in the Molecular Core, and served as consultant for PIs interested in such advanced technologies at the SFVA. Currently, he has several established and pilot projects. First project focuses on the roles of the Y-located proto-oncogene TSPY in liver and prostate cancers. TSPY is the gene for the gonadoblastoma locus on the Y chromosome (GBY), the only oncogenic locus on this male-specific chromosome. Normally, it functions as a male germ stem cell factor, but as an oncogene when ectopically expressed in somatic cells, such as prostate epithelial cells and hepatocytes. It stimulates cell proliferation and cyclin B-CDK1 kinase activities. TSPY forms a positive feedback loop with male sex hormone receptor AR and constitutively active variant AR-V7, thereby amplifying their respective oncogenic actions. Research centers on exploring the correlation between TSPY, AR/AR-V7 expression and clinical features and outcomes in liver and prostate cancers; and on studying experimentally the contributions of TSPY and AR/AR-V7 in oncogenesis in liver and prostate cancer. Validation of the roles of TSPY in AR/AR-V7 in the male-dominance in liver cancer could offer immediate translational applications of effective anti-AR/AR-V7 drugs already developed for prostate cancer to the treatment of liver cancer. The second project focuses on the X-located homologue of TSPY, TSPX on human oncogenesis. Due to evolutionary divergence, TSPX possesses contrasting properties, i.e. retards cell proliferation, inhibits cyclin B-CDK1 and AR/AR-V7 transactivation activities, and behaves as a tumor suppressor in various cancers, including lung, liver and prostate cancers. Studies are designed to identify their respective oncogenic and tumor suppressor domains, and signaling pathways in oncogenesis. The third project focuses on the genes on the male-specific region of the Y chromosome (MSY) in sex differences in various physiology and diseases. The current emphasis is on the sex-determining gene SRY, which is essential for sex determination, but not for the development of non-gonadal tissues. Dr. Lau has established an efficient transgene activation system and demonstrated that aberrant expression of a human SRY induces various abnormalities in transgenic mice, including retardation in neurogenesis and postnatal lung development, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and myocardial infarction. Studies are being conducted to characterize the mechanisms of diseases, mediated by aberrant SRY expression in the respective tissues. The fourth project focuses on the recently observed link between mosaic loss of the Y chromosome (mLOY) in the peripheral blood and increased risks and mortality in elderly men. In collaborations with Health Research scientists at SFVA, Dr. Lau plans to explore the possibility of using mLOY as screening tool for cancers and cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases among the Veterans, such as the databases of the Million Veteran Program (MVP). He hypothesizes that mLOY results in dosage unbalance of the highly conserved X-Y homologous genes, such as the histone lysine demethylases SMCY and UTY, resulting in deficiency in immunosurveillance and predisposition of affected tissues to disease development. He will use transgenic mouse models to evaluate such genetic predisposition, characterize them with advanced genomics and bioinformatics techniques and correlate the results with clinical observations. Dr. Lau is a key and contributing member of the SFVA. He has developed a continuously funded research program using advanced molecular genetics, genomics, bioinformatics and transgenic mouse approaches. His research has provided useful biomarkers for precise diagnosis, prognosis, and targets for therapeutics; and the scientific supports for sex differences and disease mechanisms, essential in establishing the precision medicine for the efficient and effective deliveries of healthcare for our Veterans.

Public Health Relevance

Dr. Lau is a key and contributing member of the San Francisco VA Health Care System. He is a world authority in the genetics of the male-specific Y chromosome and an expert in molecular genetics and animal modeling of human diseases. He has developed a vigorous research program to investigate the contributions of the male- specific portion of the human genome (genetic materials) to gender disparities in various cancers and diseases. He correlates the laboratory results to the clinical features and outcomes and identifies biomarkers for precise diagnosis and prognosis in prostate and liver cancers, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases. He establishes animal models for various cancer and human diseases, affecting many of our Veterans. His studies have shed critical insights on the disease mechanisms and provided therapeutic targets for development of effective treatment plans for human cancers and diseases. His research has provided significant translational potentials to improve the healthcare of our Veterans in the twenty-first century.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Veterans Affairs (VA)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZRD1)
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Veterans Affairs Medical Center San Francisco
San Francisco
United States
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