Dr. Xinghui SunWelcome to the Sun Lab!

Xinghui SUN, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor

Department of Biochemistry

University of Nebraska-Lincoln
N158 Beadle Center
Lincoln, NE 68588-0664
Office: (402)472-8898
Email: xsun17@unl.edu


1994-1999 Zhenjiang Medical College, China, Medicine and Laboratory Science, B.S.

1999-2004 Fudan University, China, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Ph.D.

Postgraduate Training and Academic Position 

Nov 2004 –Jan 2009: Postdoctoral associate, cell migration and tumor biology, Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, West Virginia University.

Feb 2009 – Sep 2013: Research fellow, microRNA and vascular biology, Department of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.

Oct 2013 – July 2016: Instructor,  Department of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School.

Aug 2016 – present: Assistant Professor, Department of Biochemistry, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Research Interests

Next generation sequencing has revolutionized genomic research and revealed the complexity of both human and mouse transcriptomes. Most of the human and mouse genome are transcribed as non-coding RNAs including long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Studies have identified a growing number of lncRNAs that are involved in the regulation of human disease, but the function of most lncRNAs remain uncharacterized. The research program in Dr. Sun’s lab focuses on lncRNA-regulated signaling events that control endothelial cell function and vascular inflammation in metabolic diseases, in particular, obesity, type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis.

Research Overview

Obesity-associated insulin resistance commonly predisposes many of obese patients to the development of chronic metabolic diseases such as type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis, despite comprehensive lifestyle modification and optimal medical management. Adipose tissue and endothelial dysfunction contributes significantly to the pathogenesis of obesity-associated insulin resistance. Adipose tissue is comprised of multiple cell types including adipocytes, endothelial cells (ECs), leukocytes, among others. They interact with one another, and control local and systemic homeostasis of metabolism and vascular function. However, our understanding of the basic mechanisms linking EC dysfunction with the adipocyte response in insulin resistant states remains incompletely understood.

Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are non-protein coding transcripts longer than 200 nucleotides, and they function by interacting with proteins, RNAs, or chromatin. LncRNAs are emerging as critical regulators of tissue homeostasis and human diseases, however lncRNA-mediated regulation of endothelial function in the context of insulin resistance has not been studied. The long-term goal of my lab is to study the role of lncRNAs in the regulation of endothelial function that contributes to obesity-associated adipose tissue dysfunction, insulin resistance and cardiovascular complications. We hypothesize that lncRNAs are important regulators that mediate the deleterious effects of obesity on endothelial function, thus contributes to the pathogenesis of type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis in obese patients.

Specifically, we study:

(1) the mechanisms by which lncRNAs affect chromatin modification and gene expression;

(2) the role of lncRNA in the pathogenesis of obesity-associated insulin resistance, endothelial dysfunction, and vascular complications;

(3) the association of gene variation of lncRNA with human disease to develop biomarkers for identifying obese patients with cardiovascular risk.

The approaches employed in our study include systems biology, molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, 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. The long-term goal is to understand lncRNA-mediated molecular mechanisms underlying obesity-induced endothelial dysfunction in white adipose tissue for identifying novel therapeutic targets.

LncRNA-up1 in white adipose tissue

White adipose tissue dysfunction and insulin resistance

Fast facts on obecity and diabetes


Lab Members

Xinghui Sun, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Xinghui Sun
Academic Role: Principal Investigator

E-mail: xsun17@unl.edu

Mohamed Sham Shihabudeen Haider Ali

Postdoctoral Associate

Mohamed Sham Shihabudeen Haider Ali
Research Project: The role of lncRNA in obesity-associated insulin resistance

E-mail: mhaiderali2@unl.edu                                                                                                        

Xiao Cheng

Postdoctoral Associate

Xiao Cheng
Research Project: The role of lncRNA in lipid metabolism

E-mail: xcheng10@unl.edu       

Matthew Moran

Graduate Student

Matthew Moran

Research Project: The role of long non-coding RNAs in regulating saturated fatty acid-induced signaling and endothelial function  
E-mail: mmoran@huskers.unl.edu                                                                                     

Philamon Leon Hemstreet

Undergraduate Researcher

Philamon Leon Hemstreet
Research Project: Obesogenic stimuli and lncRNA expression

E-mail: philamon.leon.hemstreet@gmail.com 

Ethan Wheeler

Undergraduate Researcher

Ethan Wheeler
Research Project: LncRNA and miR-181b

E-mail: ewheeler0906@gmail.com    

Nghi Minh Nguyen

Undergraduate Researcher

Nghi Minh Nguyen
Research Project: LncRNA and endothelial function

E-mail: nghimelody.nguyen@gmail.com



Selected Publications

  1. 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 1;122(6):1973-90. [Article]
  2. Sun X, Feinberg MW. Knocking Out Viral Myocarditis: Reality or a MiRage? Circ Res. 2012 Aug 3;111(4):388-91. [Editorial]
  3. Sun X, Feinberg MW. NF-κB and hypoxia: a double-edged sword in atherosclerosis. Am J Pathol. 2012 Nov; 181(5): 1513-7. [Commentary]
  4. Sun X, Belkin N, Feinberg MW. Endothelial microRNAs and atherosclerosis. Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2013 Dec;15(12):372. [Review]
  5. 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. [Review]
  6. Sun X*, He S*, Wara AK, Icli B, Shvartz E, Tesmenitsky Y, Li D, Blackwell TS, Sukhova GK, Croce K, Feinberg MW. Systemic Delivery of MicroRNA-181b Inhibits NF-κB Activation, Vascular Inflammation, and Atherosclerosis in Apoe-/- Mice. Circ Res. 2014 Jan 3;114(1):32-40. *, These authors contributed equally to this work.[Article]
  7. Sun X, Feinberg MW. MicroRNA-management of lipoprotein homeostasis. Circ Res. 2014 Jun 20;115(1):2-6. [Editorial]
  8. Sun X, Feinberg MW. Regulation of endothelial cell metabolism: just go with the flow. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 2015 Jan;35(1):13-5. [Editorial]
  9. 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. [Epub ahead of print]. *, These authors contributed equally to this work. [Article]
  10. 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):307-318. [Review]
  11. 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 Jan 9;91:151-159. [Article]
  12. 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. *, These authors contributed equally to this work. [Article]
  13. 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. *, These authors contributed equally to this work. [Article]
  14. 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. *, Corresponding author. [Review]
  15. 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. *, Corresponding author. [Review]
  16. 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. 2018 Nov 22. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky1190. [Epub ahead of print]

PubMed Articles


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.

1) 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.

2) 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.

3) 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.

4) 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.