Ji-Long Liu

active 5 years ago


Full Name

Ji-Long Liu

Current position

Programme Leader


MRC Functional Genomics Unit, University of Oxford


Oxford, United Kingdom

Research interests

Intracellular Compartmentation in Drosophila



Twitter handle


Google Scholar Profile


Research activity


Intracellular compartments such as organelles are essential for a cell’s function. RNA occurs in every compartment in a cell. Research in the Liu group focuses on three fundamental questions relating to RNA, for which we seek an in vivo understanding. We choose the fruitfly Drosophila melanogaster as our prime model system because of its genetic tractability and the depth of genomic data. Studies in Drosophila have provided a key to vertebrate development and human biology.

First, we will study the mechanisms by which the synthesis of CTP, one of the critical precursors of RNA and DNA, is compartmentalized within a cell. We have recently discovered that CTP synthase is compartmentalized in a novel evolutionarily conserved organelle, the cytoophidium. Compartmentation is essential for the localization of biological processes within a eukaryotic cell. CTP synthase has been an attractive target for developing agents against cancer, virus and parasites. We will investigate how CTP synthase is assembled into the cytoophidium and how the cytoophidium is linked to cancer biology.
Second, we are interested in the biological roles of long noncoding RNAs in Drosophila. While much knowledge has been gained on the functionality of protein-coding genes, we know very little about the mechanisms by which noncoding RNAs function in a fly. We will analyse the spatial and temporal expression of long noncoding RNAs during Drosophila development and will investigate the underlying mechanisms of how they function in vivo.
Finally, we will investigate how an RNP assembly and RNA splicing factor SMN and the abundance of U bodies are regulated during development. SMN, a major constituent of U bodies which contain snRNPs, is the determining factor for SMA. The study of SMN and the U body thus holds the key to identifying the cellular mechanism of SMA. We are particularly excited to investigate the role of SMN in the maintenance of stem cells and their pluripotency.

Representative publications

23827738, 22445511, 21490958, 21254152, 20513629, 19158395

Research keywords

Cytoophidium, CTP synthase, survival motor neuron, noncoding RNA, oogenesis, stem cell

Job openings

PhD studentships are available.


Latitude and Longitude