Lifeng Xu

Lifeng Xu, Ph.D.

Position Title
Associate Professor

  • Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, College of Biological Sciences
332 Briggs Hall

Research Interests

Telomeres are the protective nucleoprotein structures at the ends of linear eukaryotic chromosomes. Telomere dysfunction contributes to cancer progression and aging. Our laboratory employs molecular and cytological approaches to study telomere maintenance in human normal cells and cancer cells.

Grad Group Affiliations

  • Biochemistry, Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology
  • Integrative Genetics and Genomics
  • Microbiology

Specialties / Focus

  • Cancer Biology
  • Cell Biology
  • Chromosome Biology
  • Chromosome Dynamics and Nuclear Function
  • Molecular Genetics


  • MIC 115 Recombinant DNA Cloning, Fall
  • MIC 104L General Microbiology Lab, Winter
  • MIC 175 Cancer Biology, Spring


  • 341 Briggs Hall

Honors and Awards

  • 2000-2003 Susan G. Komen Postdoctoral Fellowship
  • 2011 March of Dimes - Basil O'Connor Award
  • 2012 American Cancer Society Research Scholar
  • 2012 Concern Foundation - Young Investigator Award
  • 2013 Hellman Fellow


    • 1993 BS Biology Fudan University
    • 2000 PhD Molecular Biology Princeton University


    Sandhu, R., Sharma, M., Wei, D. and Xu, L. The structurally conserved TELR region on shelterin protein TPP1 is essential for telomerase processivity but not recruitment. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2021 Jul 27;118(30):e2024889118. doi: 10.1073/pnas.2024889118.

    Nera, B., Huang, H.S., Hendrickson, E.A., Xu, L. Both the classical and alternative non-homologous end joining pathways contribute to the fusion of drastically shortened telomeres induced by TRF2 overexpression. Cell Cycle. 2019 Apr;18(8):880-888.

    Sandhu, R., Wei, D., Sharma, M., Xu, L. An N-terminal Flag-tag impairs TPP1 regulation of telomerase function. Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2019 Apr 30;512(2):230-235.

    Nera, B., Huang, H.S., Lai, T., Xu, L. Elevated levels of TRF2 induce telomeric ultrafine anaphase bridges and rapid telomere deletions. Nature Communications DOI: 10.1038/ncomms10132 (2015)

    Frank, A.K., Tran, D.C., Qu, R.W., Stohr, B.A., Segal, D.J., Xu, L. The Shelterin TIN2 Subunit Mediates Recruitment of Telomerase to Telomeres. PLOS Genetics 11(7): e1005410 (2015)

    Bhakta, M.S., Henry, I.M., Ousterout, D.G., Das, K.T., Lockwood, S.H., Meckler, J.F., Wallen, M.C., Zykovich, A., Yu, Y., Leo, H., Xu, L., Gersbach, C.A., Segal, D.J. Highly active zinc-finger nucleases by extended modular assembly. Genome Res. 23(3):530-8 (2013)

    Xu, L., Li, S., Stohr, B.A. The role of telomere biology in cancer. Annu Rev Pathol. 8:49-78 (2013)

    Stohr, B.A., Xu, L., Blackburn, E.H. The Terminal Telomeric DNA Sequence Determines the Mechanism of Dysfunctional Telomere Fusion. Mol. Cell 39: 307-314 (2010).

    Wang, X., Kam, Z., Carlton, P.M., Xu, L., Sedat, J.W., Blackburn, E.H. Rapid telomere motions in live human cells analyzed by highly time-resolved microscopy. Epigenetics Chromatin. 1(1):4. (2008)

    Xu, L and Blackburn, E.H. Human cancer cells harbor t-stumps, a distinct class of extremely short telomeres. Mol. Cell 28: 315-327 (2007)

    Xu, L and Blackburn, E.H. Human Rif1 protein binds aberrant telomeres and aligns along anaphase midzone microtubules. J. Cell Biol. 167: 819-830 (2004)

    Ly, H.*, Xu, L.*, Rivera, M.A., Parslow, T.G., Blackburn, E.H. A role for a novel ‘transpseudoknot’ RNA-RNA interaction in the functional dimerization of human telomerase. Genes Dev. 17:1078-1083 (2003)

    Kim, M., Xu, L., Blackburn, E.H. Catalytically active human telomerase mutants with allele-specific biological properties. Exp. Cell Res. 288:277-287 (2003)

    Comolli, L.R., Smirnov, I., Xu, L., Blackburn, E.H., James, T.L. A molecular switch underlies a human telomerase disease. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA. 99: 16998-17003 (2002)

    Tao, W., Pennica, D., Xu, L., Kalejta, R.F., Levine A.J. Wrch-1, a novel member of the Rho gene family that is regulated by Wnt-1. Genes Dev. 15: 1796-1807 (2001)

    Xu, L., Corcoran, R.B., Welsh, J.W., Pennica, D., Levine A.J. WISP-1 is a Wnt-1 and ß-catenin responsive oncogene. Genes Dev. 14: 585-595 (2000)