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Welcome to the Sun Lab!

Contact Us

Department of Biochemistry
Beadle Center, Room N158
1901 Vine Street
Lincoln, NE 68588
Office: (402)472-8898
Email: xsun17@unl.edu

Recent News

Welcome Vijaya Bhaskar  Baki to join the lab (Oct 2021)!

Congratulations to Xiao on her Best Poster Award at NPOD 2021 Fall symposium  (Sept 2021)

Congratulations to Xiao that her manuscript was accepted by the journal "Redox Biology" (Jan 2021)

Sun lab got the first NIH R01 grant (07/01/2020 to 06/30/2024)

Sun lab and Harris lab published a review article on AJP-Cell Physiology


Sun CV

Research Overview

Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a class of non-protein coding transcripts longer than 200 nucleotides. Our long-term research goal is to advance fundamental knowledge on the role of lncRNAs in regulating cell function and human diseases. We will decipher the hidden layer of biological complexity that can determine cellular responses, metabolism, cell fate, and diseases. We will:

  1. reveal the new molecular basis by which lncRNAs contribute to obesity, fatty liver, and atherosclerosis;
  2. shed new light on the role of lncRNA in regulating mitochondrial structure and function;
  3. identify the new regulators of angiogenesis.

The approaches employed in our study include systems biology, bioinformatics, molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, immunohistochemistry, next generation sequencing (RNA-seq), microarray, and mass spectrometry. We use both in vitro cell culture and in vivo knockout or transgenic mouse models for our research.

Research Interests

Project 1

Impaired endothelial homeostasis is a common feature of different diseases, including obesity, nonalcoholic fatty liver, and atherosclerosis, which accelerates the pathogenesis of these diseases. The role of lncRNAs in regulating these processes is not completely understood. The research program in my lab focuses on how metabolic stress affects healthy humans, particularly the role of lncRNA in the homeostasis of vascular endothelium in obesity, diabetes, and atherosclerosis. My long-term goal is to improve our understanding of the connection between obesity, fatty liver, and cardiovascular disease risk, leading to the development of more effective therapies.

graphic of mouse, NAFLD and Atherosclerosis

Project 2

Mitochondria are dynamic organelles and their function is maintained through proper coordination of mitochondrial biogenesis, dynamics (fission and fusion), and turnover (mitophagy). Alterations in mitochondrial morphology and function in ECs have been observed in obesity and diabetes, fatty liver, and atherosclerosis. We are particularly interested in the role of lncRNAs in regulating mitochondrial dynamics, turnover, and bioenergetics. We hope to identify new molecular basis by which lncRNAs control mitochondrial homeostasis in vascular endothelium in chronic metabolic diseases.

graphic of mitaphagy reporter, MitoDsRed and Cell cycle reporter

Project 3

The process by which new blood vessels are generated from preexisting vessels is known as angiogenesis. This project focuses on the mechanisms of angiogenesis that operate in diseases such as obesity and diabetes, particularly on the molecular basis of endothelial dysfunction. The goal of this project is to identify new regulators of angiogenesis through comprehensive analysis of transcriptomics, metabolomics, and proteomic data using computational systems biology and epigenetic approaches. Molecular and cellular biology techniques, immunostaining and confocal imaging, and state-of-the-art technologies for protein-RNA interaction are used to further characterize the identified targets.

graphic of new regulators of angiogenesis

Lab Members

Xinghui Sun Profile Photo

Xinghui Sun

Associate Professor (2022 - )
Academic Role: Principal Investigator
Xiao Cheng Profile Photo

Xiao Cheng

Postdoctoral Associate (June 2017-)
Research Project: The role of lncRNA in cellular senescence and metabolism in obesity, fatty liver, and atherosclerosis
Matthew Moran Profile Photo

Matthew Moran

Graduate Student (March 2017-)
Research Project: Bioinformatics and transcriptome analysis identify new regulators of angiogenesis
Vijaya Bhaskar Baki Profile Photo

Vijaya Bhaskar Baki

Postdoctoral Associate (Oct 2021-)
Research Project: Bioinformatics and protein posttranslational modification (neddylation) in human diseases

Former Members

Philamon Leon Hemstreet Profile Photo

Philamon Leon Hemstreet

Undergraduate Researcher (Oct 2016 - June 2017)
Ethan Wheeler Profile Photo

Ethan Wheeler

Undergraduate Researcher (Oct 2016 - Aug 2018)
Nghi Minh Nguyen Profile Photo

Nghi Minh Nguyen

Undergraduate Researcher (July 2017 - May 2019)
Mohamed Sham Shihabudeen Haider Ali Profile Photo

Mohamed Sham Shihabudeen Haider Ali

Postdoctoral Associate (Sept 2016-Apirl 2019)
Jiyao Zhu Profile Photo

Jiyao Zhu

Postdoctoral Associate (Dec 2020-June 2021)

Selected Publications

PubMed Articles


  1. Haemmig S, Hashemi Gheinani A, Zaromytidou M, Siasos G, Coskun AU, Cormier MA, Gross DA, Wara AKMK, Antoniadis A, Sun X, Sukhova GK, Welt F, Andreou I, Whatling C, Gan LM, Wikström J, Edelman ER, Libby P, Stone PH, Feinberg MW. Novel Lesional Transcriptional Signature Separates Atherosclerosis With and Without Diabetes in Yorkshire Swine and Humans. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2021 Feb 11:ATVBAHA121315896. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.121.315896. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33567868.
  2. Cheng X, Shihabudeen Haider Ali MS, Moran M, Viana MP, Schlichte SL, Zimmerman MC, Khalimonchuk O, Feinberg MW, Sun X. Long non-coding RNA Meg3 deficiency impairs glucose homeostasis and insulin signaling by inducing cellular senescence of hepatic endothelium in obesity. Redox Biol. 2021 Jan 19;40:101863. doi: 10.1016/j.redox.2021.101863. Online ahead of print. PMID: 33508742.
  3. Yang D, Haemmig S, Zhou H, Pérez-Cremades D, Sun X, Chen L, Li J, Haneo-Mejia J, Yang T, Hollan I, Feinberg MW. Methotrexate attenuates vascular inflammation through an adenosine-microRNA-dependent pathway. Elife. 2021 Jan 8;10:e58064. doi: 10.7554/eLife.58064. PMID: 33416495.


  1. Kim H, Jeon BT, Kim IM, Bennett SJ, Lorch CM, Viana MP, Myers JF, Trupp CJ, Whipps ZT, Kundu M, Chung S, Sun X, Khalimonchuk O, Lee J, Ro SH. Sestrin2 Phosphorylation by ULK1 Induces Autophagic Degradation of Mitochondria Damaged by Copper-Induced Oxidative Stress. Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Aug 25;21(17):6130. PMID: 32854424.

  2. Sun X, Harris EN. New aspects of hepatic endothelial cells in physiology and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.  Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 2020 Jun 1;318(6):C1200-C1213. PMID: 32374676 Review.

  3. Arumugam R, Yalaka B, Massilamany C, Haider Ali MSS, Lasrado N, Jayaraja S, Riethoven JJ, Sun X, Reddy J. An evidence for surface expression of an immunogenic epitope of sarcoplasmic/endoplasmic reticulum calcium-ATPase2a on antigen-presenting cells from naive mice in the mediation of autoimmune myocarditis. Immunobiology. 2020 Mar;225(2):151896. PMID: 31870642

  4. Haemmig S, Yang D, Sun X, Das D, Ghaffari S, Molinaro R, Chen L, Deng Y, Freeman D, Moullan N, Tesmenitsky Y, Wara AKMK, Simion V, Shvartz E, Lee JF, Yang T, Sukova G, Marto JA, Stone PH, Lee WL, Auwerx J, Libby P, Feinberg MW. Long noncoding RNA SNHG12 integrates a DNA-PK-mediated DNA damage response and vascular senescence. Sci Transl Med. 2020 Feb 19;12(531). pii: eaaw1868. doi:10.1126/scitranslmed.aaw1868. PubMed PMID: 32075942.


  1. Moran M, Cheng X, Shihabudeen Haider Ali MS, Wase N, Nguyen N, Yang W, Zhang C, DiRusso C, Sun X. Transcriptome analysis-identified long noncoding RNA CRNDE in maintaining endothelial cell proliferation, migration, and tube formation. Sci Rep. 2019 Dec 20;9(1):19548. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-56030-9. PubMed PMID: 31863035; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6925215.
  2. Shihabudeen Haider Ali MS, Cheng X, Moran M, Haemmig S, Naldrett MJ, Alvarez S, Feinberg MW, Sun X. LncRNA Meg3 protects endothelial function by regulating the DNA damage response. Nucleic Acids Res. 2019 Feb 20;47(3):1505-1522. doi:10.1093/nar/gky1190. PubMed PMID: 30476192; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6379667.


  1. Sun X*, Haider Ali MSS, Moran M. The role of interactions of long non-coding RNAs and heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoproteins in regulating cellular functions. Biochem J. 2017 Aug 11;474(17):2925-2935. doi: 10.1042/BCJ20170280. Review. PubMed PMID: 28801479; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5553131. *, Corresponding author.
  2. Zhang Y, Sun X, Icli B, Feinberg MW. Emerging Roles for MicroRNAs in Diabetic Microvascular Disease: Novel Targets for Therapy. Endocr Rev. 2017 Apr 1;38(2):145-168. doi: 10.1210/er.2016-1122. Review. PubMed PMID: 28323921; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5460677.

2016 and Before

  1. Sun X*, Wong D. Long non-coding RNA-mediated regulation of glucose homeostasis and diabetes. Am J Cardiovasc Dis. 2016 May 18;6(2):17-25. eCollection 2016. Review. PubMed PMID: 27335687; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4913211. *, Corresponding author.
  2. Lin J, He S, Sun X, Franck G, Deng Y, Yang D, Haemmig S, Wara AK, Icli B, Li D, Feinberg MW. MicroRNA-181b inhibits thrombin-mediated endothelial activation and arterial thrombosis by targeting caspase recruitment domain family member 10. FASEB J. 2016 Sep;30(9):3216-26. doi: 10.1096/fj.201500163R. Epub 2016 Jun 13. PubMed PMID: 27297585; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5001512.
  3. Sun X, Lin J, Zhang Y, Kang S, Belkin N, Wara AK, Icli B, Hamburg NM, Li D, Feinberg MW. MicroRNA-181b Improves Glucose Homeostasis and Insulin Sensitivity by Regulating Endothelial Function in White Adipose Tissue. Circ Res. 2016 Mar 4;118(5):810-21. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.115.308166. Epub 2016 Jan 7. PubMed PMID: 26830849; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4779381.
  4. Icli B, Nabzdyk CS, Lujan-Hernandez J, Cahill M, Auster ME, Wara AK, Sun X, Ozdemir D, Giatsidis G, Orgill DP, Feinberg MW. Regulation of impaired angiogenesis in diabetic dermal wound healing by microRNA-26a. J Mol Cell Cardiol. 2016 Feb;91:151-9. doi: 10.1016/j.yjmcc.2016.01.007. Epub 2016 Jan 9. PubMed PMID: 26776318; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4764471.
  5. Andreou I, Sun X, Stone PH, Edelman ER, Feinberg MW. miRNAs in atherosclerotic plaque initiation, progression, and rupture. Trends Mol Med. 2015 May;21(5):307-18. doi: 10.1016/j.molmed.2015.02.003. Epub 2015 Mar 11. Review. PubMed PMID: 25771097; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4424146.
  6. Khedkar SA*, Sun X*, Rigby AC, Feinberg MW. Discovery of small molecule inhibitors to Krüppel-like factor 10 (KLF10): implications for modulation of T regulatory cell differentiation. J Med Chem. 2015 Feb 12;58(3):1466-78. doi: 10.1021/jm5018187. Epub 2015 Feb 4. PubMed PMID: 25581017; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4811605. *, equal contribution.
  7. Sun X, Feinberg MW. Regulation of endothelial cell metabolism: just go with the flow. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2015 Jan;35(1):13-5. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.114.304869. PubMed PMID: 25520522; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4273666.
  8. Sun X, Feinberg MW. MicroRNA-management of lipoprotein homeostasis. Circ Res. 2014 Jun 20;115(1):2-6. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.114.304228. PubMed PMID: 24951757; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4083235.
  9. Sun X, Sit A, Feinberg MW. Role of miR-181 family in regulating vascular inflammation and immunity. Trends Cardiovasc Med. 2014 Apr;24(3):105-12. doi: 10.1016/j.tcm.2013.09.002. Epub 2013 Nov 1. Review. PubMed PMID: 24183793; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3943593.
  10. Sun X, Belkin N, Feinberg MW. Endothelial microRNAs and atherosclerosis. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2013 Dec;15(12):372. doi: 10.1007/s11883-013-0372-2. Review. PubMed PMID: 24158362; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3859467.
  11. Sun X, He S, Wara AKM, Icli B, Shvartz E, Tesmenitsky Y, Belkin N, Li D, Blackwell TS, Sukhova GK, Croce K, Feinberg MW. Systemic delivery of microRNA-181b inhibits nuclear factor-κB activation, vascular inflammation, and atherosclerosis in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice. Circ Res. 2014 Jan 3;114(1):32-40. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.113.302089. Epub 2013 Oct 1. PubMed PMID: 24084690; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4051320.
  12. Icli B, Wara AK, Moslehi J, Sun X, Plovie E, Cahill M, Marchini JF, Schissler A, Padera RF, Shi J, Cheng HW, Raghuram S, Arany Z, Liao R, Croce K, MacRae C, Feinberg MW. MicroRNA-26a regulates pathological and physiological angiogenesis by targeting BMP/SMAD1 signaling. Circ Res. 2013 Nov 8;113(11):1231-41. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.113.301780. Epub 2013 Sep 18. PubMed PMID: 24047927; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4068743.
  13. Wara AK, Manica A, Marchini JF, Sun X, Icli B, Tesmenitsky Y, Croce K, Feinberg MW. Bone marrow-derived Kruppel-like factor 10 controls reendothelialization in response to arterial injury. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2013 Jul;33(7):1552-60. doi: 10.1161/ATVBAHA.112.300655. Epub 2013 May 16. PubMed PMID: 23685559; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3835145.
  14. Sun X, Feinberg MW. NF-κB and hypoxia: a double-edged sword in atherosclerosis. Am J Pathol. 2012 Nov;181(5):1513-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2012.09.001. Epub 2012 Sep 20. PubMed PMID: 22999810; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3483811.
  15. Sun X, Feinberg MW. Knocking out viral myocarditis: reality or a miRage? Circ Res. 2012 Aug 3;111(4):388-91. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.112.275214. PubMed PMID: 22859666; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3426925.
  16. Sun X, Icli B, Wara AK, Belkin N, He S, Kobzik L, Hunninghake GM, Vera MP; MICU Registry, Blackwell TS, Baron RM, Feinberg MW. MicroRNA-181b regulates NF-κB-mediated vascular inflammation. J Clin Invest. 2012 Jun;122(6):1973-90. doi: 10.1172/JCI61495. Epub 2012 May 24. PubMed PMID: 22622040; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3366408.
  17. Wara AK, Foo S, Croce K, Sun X, Icli B, Tesmenitsky Y, Esen F, Lee JS, Subramaniam M, Spelsberg TC, Lev EI, Leshem-Lev D, Pande RL, Creager MA, Rosenzweig A, Feinberg MW. TGF-β1 signaling and Krüppel-like factor 10 regulate bone marrow-derived proangiogenic cell differentiation, function, and neovascularization. Blood. 2011 Dec 8;118(24):6450-60. doi: 10.1182/blood-2011-06-363713. Epub 2011 Aug 9. PubMed PMID: 21828131; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3236126.
  18. Wang J, Cheng X, Xiang MX, Alanne-Kinnunen M, Wang JA, Chen H, He A, Sun X, Lin Y, Tang TT, Tu X, Sjöberg S, Sukhova GK, Liao YH, Conrad DH, Yu L, Kawakami T, Kovanen PT, Libby P, Shi GP. IgE stimulates human and mouse arterial cell apoptosis and cytokine expression and promotes atherogenesis in Apoe-/- mice. J Clin Invest. 2011 Sep;121(9):3564-77. doi: 10.1172/JCI46028. Epub 2011 Aug 8. Erratum in: J Clin Invest. 2018 Nov 1;128(11):5184. PubMed PMID: 21821913; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3163955.
  19. Cao Z, Sun X, Icli B, Wara AK, Feinberg MW. Role of Kruppel-like factors in leukocyte development, function, and disease. Blood. 2010 Nov 25;116(22):4404-14. doi: 10.1182/blood-2010-05-285353. Epub 2010 Jul 8. Review. PubMed PMID: 20616217; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2996110.
  20. Cao Z, Wara AK, Icli B, Sun X, Packard RR, Esen F, Stapleton CJ, Subramaniam M, Kretschmer K, Apostolou I, von Boehmer H, Hansson GK, Spelsberg TC, Libby P, Feinberg MW. Kruppel-like factor KLF10 targets transforming growth factor-beta1 to regulate CD4(+)CD25(-) T cells and T regulatory cells. J Biol Chem. 2009 Sep 11;284(37):24914-24. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.000059. Epub 2009 Jul 14. PubMed PMID: 19602726; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC2757194.
  21. Fang K, Fu W, Beardsley AR, Sun X, Lisanti MP, Liu J. Overexpression of caveolin-1 inhibits endothelial cell proliferation by arresting the cell cycle at G0/G1 phase. Cell Cycle. 2007 Jan 15;6(2):199-204. Epub 2007 Jan 20. PubMed PMID: 17245131.
  22. Wang X, Li P, Zhang YQ, Hou M, Sun XH, Tan L, Zhu YS. [Biological function of fusion protein ATF-PAI2CD]. Sheng Wu Hua Xue Yu Sheng Wu Wu Li Xue Bao (Shanghai). 2003 Jul;35(7):624-8. Chinese. PubMed PMID: 12883632.
  23. Sun XH, Tan L, Li CY, Tong C, Fan J, Li P, Zhu YS. A novel gene delivery system targeting urokinase receptor. Acta Biochim Biophys Sin (Shanghai). 2004 Jul;36(7):485-91. PubMed PMID: 15248023.
  24. Sun XH, Flynn DC, Castranova V, Millecchia LL, Beardsley AR, Liu J. Identification of a novel domain at the N terminus of caveolin-1 that controls rear polarization of the protein and caveolae formation. J Biol Chem. 2007 Mar 9;282(10):7232-41. Epub 2007 Jan 8. PubMed PMID: 17213184.
  25. Sun XH, Liu ZY, Chen H, Beardsley AR, Qi Q, Liu J. A conserved sequence in caveolin-1 is both necessary and sufficient for caveolin polarity and cell directional migration. FEBS Lett. 2009 Nov 19;583(22):3681-9. doi:10.1016/j.febslet.2009.10.055. Epub 2009 Oct 23. PubMed PMID: 19854179.

Complete List of Published Work in My Bibliography:



  1. Congratulations to Xiao that her manuscript was accepted by the journal "Redox Biology" (Jan 2021).
  2. Sun lab got the first NIH R01 grant $1,955,473 (07012020 - 06302024)

  3. Sun lab and Harris lab published a review article on AJP-Cell Physiology (2020)

  4. Matthew Moran, graduate, attended the 2019 Gordon Research Seminar and Conference on Angiogenesis August 3 -9. He won Gordon Research Conferences Poster Award.
  5. Nghi Nguyen, undergraduate, attended the UCARE undergraduate poster presentation at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Undergraduate Research Fair, April 15, 2019. She won Poster Award.
  6. Nghi Nguyen, undergraduate, attended the 2019 American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Annual Meeting, April 06 – 10. She gave both oral and poster presentations.
  7. Mohamed Sham Shihabudeen Haider Ali and Xiao Cheng, postdoctoral associates, attended the 2018 American Heart Association scientific session, November 10 – 14, and presented a poster.

Join the Lab

The lab is actively looking for bright, highly motivated individuals who share our research interests and are interested in being part of the research team.

  • As positions for postdoctoral associate become available, they are announced on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln job listings web site and advertised in professional and scholarly publications.
  • Potential graduate students should consider applying to the Ph.D. program in the Department of Biochemistry at University of Nebraska-Lincoln. For more information, you can check out the Biochemistry Graduate Admissions page. Please check out the Research and Publications pages to learn more about the Sun Lab.
  • Undergraduate students at University of Nebraska-Lincoln are welcome to join the lab to do independent research. The priorities will be given to students who are at junior year and interested in pursuing a Ph.D. in the future.
  • Visiting scholars are expected to provide their own support from research or study grants obtained from a foundation, university, or government. Please contact Dr. Xinghui Sun (xsun17@unl.edu) in advance for consideration.