Dr. Jinzeng Yang's Laboratory






Jinzeng Yang Ph.D

Dept of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences

University of Hawaii at Manoa

Honolulu, Hawaii


Research Programs

Recent studies from myostatin gene showed that a single dominant gene can dramatically affect muscle mass and development. In collaboration with USDA-ARS scientist Dr. Robert Wall, we have found that the N-terminal peptide of myostatin, named myostatin propeptide, is potent in promoting animal growth. Expression of the propeptide increased growth by 17-30% and muscle mass by 22-44% over their non-transgenic control mice. Interestingly, from a serial of high-fat diet and growth experiments, we found that high-fat diet induced adiposity and overweight in wild-type mice, but not in the myostatin propeptide transgenic mice.  Myostatin-propetide transgenic mice on the high-fat diet showed a further enhancement of growth rate and muscle mass while the wild-type mice deposited large amounts of adipose tissue mass. The results demonstrate that disruption of myostatin function by its propeptide shifts dietary fat utilization toward muscle tissues. Skeletal muscle can be an effective physiologic basis to prevent excessive fat deposition. Our work establishes a novel concept of muscle-fat interaction for obesity and type II diabetes prevention.

The long-term goal of my laboratory is to enhance animal growth and metabolic efficiency by understanding the fundamental mechanisms of muscle buildup and adipose tissue fat deposition. Based on our research experiences and technical expertise in gene expression, transgenic animals and comparative genomics, my laboratory has been focusing on three research areas:

  • Major genes and growth factors that regulate skeletal muscle growth and adipose tissue fat deposition in transgenic mice and livestock animals

  • Basic and novel molecular mechanisms of muscle-adipose tissue interactions on obesity and type II diabetes prevention.

  • Identifications of shrimp critical genes for muscle restoration after molt by comparative genomic approaches.

Biographic Information

Dr. Jinzeng Yang received his BS and MS training in animal science and genetics. In 1994, he entered the University of Alberta in Canada, where he was awarded the degree of Ph.D. in 2000. Dr. Yang spent two years as a postdoctoral fellow at USDA-ARS (Beltsville, MD) at Dr. Robert Walls animal biotechnology facility. As an associate professor of animal molecular biology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Dr. Yang developed and taught undergraduate course ANSC446 (Genes and Animal Biology), and graduate course MBBE/ANSC/FSHN 650 (DNA and Genetic Analysis). He is also actively mentoring graduate students and research associates through his active research programs.


Laboratory Pictures

*      www.pubmed.com 

*      www.hawaii.edu

*      www.ars.usda.gov

*      www.diabetes.com


Contact Information

Jinzeng Yang, Ph.D.

Dept of Human Nutrition, Food and Animal Sciences

University of Hawaii

1955 East West Road, Room 216

Honolulu, HI 96822

Phone: 808 956 6073; Fax: 808 956 4024

E-mail: Jinzeng@hawaii.edu

Web address: www.hawaii.edu/dna


Selected Recent Publications


1.       Li Z, B. Cao, Zhao B, Yang X, Fan MZ, Yang J. 2009. Decreased expression of calpain and calpastatin mRNA during development are highly correlated with muscle protein accumulation in neonatal pigs. Comp. Biochem. Physiol. A: Mol. Integrat. Physiol. Epub 2008, Dec 12


2.       Suzuki,ST,  Zhao B, Yang J. 2008. Enhanced muscle by myostatin propeptide increases adipose tissue adiponectin, PPAR-α and PPAR- γ expressions. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 369: 767-73.


3.       Cesar, JR,  Zhao B, Yang J. 2008. Analysis of expressed sequence tags from abdominal muscle cDNA library of the pacific white shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei. Animal. 2: 1377-83. 


4.       Cesar J and Yang J. 2007. Expression patterns of ubiquitin, heat shock protein 70, alpha-actin and β-actin over the molt cycle in the abdominal muscle of marine shrimp Litopenaeus vannamei. Mol. Reprod. Dev. 74: 554-59.


5.       Cesar J, Zhao B,  Malecha S,  Ako H,  Yang J. 2006. Morphological and biochemical changes in the muscle of the marine shrimp litopenaeus vannamei during the molt cycle.  Aquaculture 261:688 -94.


6.       Yang J, Zhao B. 2006. Postnatal expression of myostatin propeptide cDNA maintained high muscle growth and normal adipose tissue mass in transgenic mice fed a high-fat diet. Mol Reprod Dev. 73:462-69.


7.       Zhao B, Wall RJ, Yang J. 2005. Transgenic expression of myostatin propeptide prevents diet-induced obesity and insulin resistance. Biochem. Biophys. Res. Commun. 337:248-55.


8.       Yang J, Zhao B, Baracos VE, Kennelly JJ. 2005. Effects of bovine somatotropin on beta-casein mRNA levels in mammary tissue of lactating cows. J. Dairy Sci. 88: 2806-2.


9.       Yang J, T Ratovitski, J P Brady, M B Solomon, K D Wells, R J Wall. 2001.Expression of Myostatin Pro Domain Results in Muscular Transgenic Mice. Mol Reprod Dev. 60: 351-61.


10.   Yang, J., JJ Kennelly and VE Baracos 2000. Transcription factor Stat5 responses to prolactin, growth hormone and IGF-I in rat and bovine mammary gland explant. J Anim Sci. 78: 3114-25.


11.   Yang , J, JJ Kennelly and VE Baracos 2000. Physiological levels of Stat5 protein and activity in bovine mammary gland. J Anim Sci. 78: 3126-34.


Research Associates and Graduate Students 

      Beth (Baoping) Zhao (Research Associate)

      Zicong Li

      Shizu Watanabe

      Gavin Iwai

      Shana Suzuki  (Graduated)

      Megan Pinault

      Renato Cesar (Graduated)

      Yanisa Thai-u-laoong (Graduated)

      Heng Wang (Postdoctoral fellow)


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