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MIN DU LABORATORY WEBSITE Nutrigenomics and Growth Biology

Major Active Federal Grants:


  • Du, M. (PI), and M.J. Zhu. NIH (1R01HD067449-12). Maternal obesity, AMPK and fetal development. (9/01/2017-08/31/2022).

This project represents the long-term interest of our laboratory: exploring the impact of maternal nutrition on fetal adipose tissue and skeletal muscle development. Right now, more than one third of pregnant women are obese, which negatively affects fetal development and health of next generation. We found that AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) in fetal tissues was robustly inhibited under maternal obese conditions, and AMPK is an amiable target for preventing adverse changes in fetuses due to maternal obesity. 

  • Du, M. (PI). NIH (R21AG049976). Zfp423 and progenitor adipogenesis during aging. (4/1/2016-3/31/2018).

Adipose senescence during aging leads to metabolic dysfunction and inflammation, but the underlying mechanisms have not been well established. We propose that the impairment in the generation of new adipocytes from progenitor cells is the major reason, and further suggest the involvement of epigenetic changes in such impairment. In this project, we study the epigenetic regulation of Zfp423, a critical regulator of adipogenic commitment,  in aging progenitor cells. These studies will provide molecular targets for preventive efforts to prevent adipose senescence, and will likely have applications to the senescence of progenitor cells in other tissues leading to frailty, such as muscle and bones.

  • Zhang, H., and M. Du (Co-PI). NIH (R15AA024284). Mechanism of chronic alcohol consumption-induced cancer associated cachexia. (01/01/2017-12/31/2020).

This is a collaborative project led by Dr. Hui Zhang. The goal of this project is to is to study the molecular mechanism of how chronic alcohol consumption enhances cancer-associated cachexia, a form of severe loss of muscle mass and adipose tissue.

  • Du, M. (PI), J. S. Neibergs, D. A. Llewellyn, J. R. Busboom, and M. L. Nelson. USDA-NIFA (2016-68006-24634), High quality beef – a niche market for small and medium sized farms. (1/1/2016-12/31/2019).

This is an integrative project involving basic research, economic analyses and extension. The objective is to assess the impact of maternal nutritional management of cows and the growth performance of offspring beef cattle and their meat quality. We hypothesize that proper maternal nutrition enhances intramuscular adipocyte development, which will increase marbling fat in offspring cattle, producing high quality beef.

  • Jiang Z., M. Du (Co-PI), L. K. Fox, and M. Maquivar. USDA-NIFA (2016-67015-24470), Genome wide mapping of alternative polyadenylation sites in cattle. (1/1/2016-12/31/2018).

In collaboration with Dr. Jiang, we are analyzing mechanisms regulating alternative splicing and polyadenylation during pre-mRNA processing in beef cattle, focusing on alternative polyadenylation occurred during muscle and adipose tissue development.

  • Du, M. (PI), J. R. Busboom, and M. L. Nelson. USDA-NIFA (2015-67015-23219). Vitamin A, Zfp423 and intramuscular adipogenesis in beef cattle. (4/1/2015-3/31/2019).

In this project, we are analyzing the impact of maternal/neonatal vitamin A supplementation on adipose tissue development in calves and the resulting beef quality. We are also exploring epigenetic changes in progenitor cells in the presence of retinoic acid, a major bioactive metabolite of vitamin A.