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Pengda Liu

Cell signaling; cancer; mTOR; Akt; post-translational modification; protein-protein interaction

Assistant Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics
(PhD – East Carolina University)


Trained Faculty Mentor endorsed by Office of Graduate Ed UNC Chapel Hill


  • UNC Lineberger Development Award- 2019
  • VWR Charitable Foundation Grant – 2019
  • V Scholar – 2018
  • Atomwise AIMS Award – 2017
  • UNC Junior Faculty Development Award – 2017
  • 40 under 40 Leadership Award (East Carolina University) – 2016
  • NCI K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award – 2014
  • Carol F. Volkman Award – 2006


Our laboratory focuses on deciphering the molecular mechanisms underlying aberrant cell signaling events that contribute to tumorigenesis including but not limited to the oncogenic mTOR/Akt pathway. Understanding these events may lead to identification of novel drug targets. Moving forward, we are also interested in developing new experimental systems and tools to further understand the interplays between key cancer signaling events to connect cancer signaling, metabolism and epigenetics, with the ultimate goal of identification and development new targeted therapies to combat human diseases.


  • Guo, J., Chakraborty, A.A., Liu, P., Gan, W., Zheng, X., Inuzuka, H., Wang, B., Zhang, J., Zhang, L., Yuan, M., Novak, J., Cheng, J.Q., Toker, A., Signoretti, S., Zhang, Q., Asara, J.M., Kaelin, W.G. Jr and Wei. W. pVHL suppresses kinase activity of Akt in a proline-hydroxylation dependent manner. Science. 2016. 353(6302): 929-32.
  • Liu, P., Gan, W., Chin, Y.R., Ogura, K., Guo, J., Zhang, J., Wang, B., Blenis, J., Cantley, L.C., Toker, A., Su, B. and Wei, W. PtdIns(3,4,5)P3-dependent Activation of the mTORC2 Kinase Complex. 2015. Cancer Discovery. pii: CD-15-0460.
  • Liu, P.*, Gan, W.*, Guo, C., Xie, A., Gao, D., Guo, J., Zhang, J., Willis, N., Su, A., Asara, J.M., Scully, R. and Wei, W. Akt-mediated Phosphorylation of XLF Impairs Non-homologous End Joining DNA Repair. 2015. Molecular Cell. 57:1-14. (*co-first author)
  • Liu, P., Begley, M., Michowski, W., Inuzuka, H., Ginzberg, M., Gao, D., Tsou, P., Gan, W., Papa, A., Kim, B,M., Wan, L., Singh, A., Zhai, B., Yuan, M., Wang, Z., Gygi, S.P., Lee, T.H., Lu, K.P., Toker, A., Pandolfi, P.P., Asara, J.M., Kirschner, M.W., Sicinski, P., Cantley, L., Wei, W. Cell-cycle-regulated activation of Akt kinase by phosphorylation at its carboxyl terminus. 2014. Nature. 508(7497): 541-545.
  • Liu, P., Gan, W., Inuzuka, H., Lazorchak, A. S., Gao, D., Arojo, O., Liu, D., Wan, L., Zhai, B., Yu, Y., Yuan, M., Kim, B. M., Shai, S., Menon, S., Gygi, S. P., Lee, T. H., Asara, J. M., Manning, B. D., Blenis, J., Su, B. and Wei, W. Sin1 phosphorylation impairs mTORC2 complex integrity and inhibits downstream Akt signaling to suppress tumorigenesis. 2013. Nature Cell Biology. 15(11): 1340-1350.

Link to all pubs


photo of Pengda Liu PhD
  • Phone Number

    919-966-3522 (Office Phone)

  • Address

    21-237 Lineberger Cancer Center

    450 West Drive, P. Liu lab

    Campus Box 7295

    Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7295