Hongbo Chi, PhD
Hongbo Chi, PhD

Hongbo Chi, PhD

Member, St. Jude Faculty



PhD – University of Rochester, Rochester, NY

Research Interests

Immune Signaling and Metabolism

The underlying theme of our research is to understand the mechanisms of immune signaling and cell metabolism that control the differentiation and function of T cells, a central cell type in adaptive immunity. We have used a combination of approaches including mouse genetics, cellular immunology and biochemistry, as well as models of autoimmune, infectious and malignant diseases (e.g. multiple sclerosis, colitis, listeriosis and leukemia). Within the underlying theme of our research, we have explored T cell responses from two complementary angles: the molecular pathways intrinsic to T cells, and the pathways that act in dendritic cells to cross-regulate T cell responses. For T cell-intrinsic mechanisms, we have been particularly interested in mTOR signaling and metabolic pathways that control the differentiation and function of regulatory and effector T cells (See Shrestha Nat Immunol 2015; Zeng Nature 2013; Yang Immunity 2013; Yang Nat Immunol 2011; Shi J Exp Med 2011). For dendritic cell-mediated extrinsic control of T cell differentiation, we have focused on MAPK, mTOR and related pathways (see Huang Nat Immunol 2012; Huang Immunity 2011). Significant insight into the physiological roles of signaling and metabolic pathways could impact our understanding of fundamental mechanisms of immune regulation and manifest legitimate therapeutic opportunities.

Selected Publications

Shrestha S, Yang K, Guy C, Vogel P, Neale G, Chi H. Treg cells require the phosphatase PTEN to restrain TH1 and TFH cell response. Nat Immunol, advance online publication 2015.

Zeng H, Chi H. Metabolic control of regulatory T cell development and function. Trends Immunol 36:3-12, 2015 (review).

Shrestha S, Yang K, Wei J, Karmaus PW, Neale G, Chi H. Tsc1 promotes the differentiation of memory CD8+ T cells via orchestrating the transcriptional and metabolic programs. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 111:14858-14863, 2014.

Wei J, Yang K, Chi H. Cutting edge: Discrete functions of mTOR signaling in invariant NKT cell development and NKT17 fate decision. J Immunol 193:4297-4301, 2014.

Wu J, Yang J, Yang K, Wang H, Gorentla B, Shin J, Qiu Y, Que L, Foster WM, Xia Z, Chi H*, Zhong XP*. iNKT cells require TSC1 for terminal maturation and effector lineage fate decisions. J Clin Invest 124:1685-1698, 2014. *Shared senior authorship.

Karmaus PW, Chi H. Genetic dissection of dendritic cell homeostasis and function: lessons from cell type-specific gene ablation. Cell Mol Life Sci 71:1893-1906, 2014 (review).

Zeng H, Yang K, Cloer C, Neale G, Vogel P, Chi H. mTORC1 couples immune signals and metabolic programming to establish Treg cell function. Nature 499: 485–490, 2013.

Yang K, Shrestha S, Zeng H, Karmaus PW, Neale G, Vogel P, Guertin DA, Lamb RF, Chi H. T cell exit from quiescence and differentiation into Th2 cells depend on Raptor-mTORC1-mediated metabolic reprogramming. Immunity 39:1043–1056, 2013.

Shi LZ, Kalupahana NS, Turnis ME, Neale G, Hock H, Vignali DA, Chi H. Inhibitory role of the transcription repressor Gfi1 in the generation of thymus-derive regulatory T cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110:E3198-3205, 2013.

Wang Y, Huang G, Zeng H, Yang K, Lamb RF, Chi H. Tuberous sclerosis 1 (Tsc1)-dependent metabolic checkpoint controls development of dendritic cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110:E4894-E4903, 2013.

Huang G, Wang Y, Chi H. Control of T cell fates and immune tolerance by p38α signaling in mucosal CD103+ dendritic cells. J Immunol 191:650-659, 2013.

Zeng H, Chi H. mTOR and lymphocyte metabolism. Cur Opin Immunol 25:347-355, 2013 (review).

Yang K, Chi H. mTOR and metabolic pathways in T cell quiescence and functional activation. Semin Immunol 24:421-428, 2013 (review).

Karmaus PW, Chi H. Genetic dissection of dendritic cell homeostasis and function: lessons from cell type-specific gene ablation. Cell Mol Life Sci Dec. 24, 2013 (review).

Huang G, Wang Y, Vogel P, Kanneganti TD, Otsu K, Chi H. Signaling via the kinase p38α programs dendritic cells to drive TH17 differentiation and autoimmune inflammation. Nat Immunol 13:152-161, 2012.

Wang Y, Huang G, Vogel P, Neale G, Reizis B, Chi H. Transforming growth factor beta-activated kinase 1 (TAK1)-dependent checkpoint in the survival of dendritic cells promotes immune homeostasis and function. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 109: E343-E352, 2012.

Chi H. Regulation and function of mTOR signalling in T cell fate decisions. Nat Rev Immunol 12:325-338, 2012 (review).

Yang K, Neale G, Green DR, He W, Chi H. The tumor suppressor Tsc1 enforces quiescence of naïve T cells to promote immune homeostasis and function. Nat Immunol 12:888-897, 2011.

Huang G, Wang Y, Shi LZ, Kanneganti TD, Chi H. Signaling by the phosphatase MKP-1 in dendritic cells imprints distinct effector and regulatory T cell fates. Immunity 35:45-58, 2011.

Shi LZ, Wang R, Huang G, Vogel P, Neale G, Green DR*, Chi H*. HIF1α-dependent glycolytic pathway orchestrates a metabolic checkpoint for the differentiation of TH17 and Treg cells. J Exp Med 208:1367-1376, 2011. *Shared senior authorship.

Chi H. Sphingosine-1-phosphate and immune regulation: trafficking and beyond. Trends Pharmacol Sci 32:16-24, 2011 (review).

Liu G, Yang K, Burns S, Shrestha S, Chi H. The S1P1-mTOR axis directs the reciprocal differentiation of TH1 and Treg cells. Nat Immunol 11:1047-1056, 2010.

Liu G, Burns S, Huang G, Boyd K, Proia, RL, Flavell RA, Chi H. The receptor S1P1 overrides regulatory T cell-mediated immune suppression through Akt-mTOR. Nat Immunol 10:769-777, 2009.

Menon S*, Chi H*, Zhang H, Deng X, Flavell RA, Wei N. COP9 Signalosome subunit 8 (Csn8) is essential for peripheral T cell homeostasis and antigen receptor-induced cell cycle entry from quiescence. Nat Immunol 8:1236-1245, 2007. *Equal contribution.

Chi H, Barry SP, Roth RJ, Wu JJ, Jones EA, Bennett AM, Flavell RA. Dynamic regulation of pro- and anti-inflammatory cytokines by MAPK phosphatase 1 (MKP-1) in innate immune responses. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103:2274-2279, 2006.

Wan YY*, Chi H*, Xie M, Schneider MD, Flavell RA. The kinase TAK1 integrates antigen and cytokine receptor signaling for T cell development, survival and function. Nat Immunol 7:851-858, 2006. *Equal contribution.

Chi H, Flavell RA. Cutting edge: regulation of T cell trafficking and primary immune responses by sphingosine 1-phosphate receptor 1. J Immunol 174:2485-2488, 2005.

Chi H*, Sarkisian MR*, Rakic P, Flavell RA. Loss of mitogen-activated protein kinase kinase kinase 4 (MEKK4) results in enhanced apoptosis and defective neural tube development. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 102:3846-3851, 2005. *Equal contribution.

Chi H, Lu B, Takekawa M, Davis RJ, Flavell RA. GADD45β/GADD45γ and MEKK4 comprise a genetic pathway mediating STAT4-independent IFNγ production in T cells. EMBO J 23:1576-1586, 2004.

Last update: January 2015