Department of Biology
JENNIFER O. LIANG, Associate Professor
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B.S., 1990, University of Wisconsin, Madison
Ph.D., 1997, Washington University, St. Louis, MO

Office: 252A SSB
Phone: 218-726-7681

Research Focus

The research in my laboratory uses zebrafish to uncover mechanisms that control development of the vertebrate nervous system. One of our goals is to understand how the neural tube is formed during development. The neural tube starts as a flat layer of cells that then folds or rolls to form the neural tube, the precursor to the brain and spinal cord. We have identified a new signaling pathway that is essential for neural tube closure, which may ultimately give insights into the causes of neural tube closure defects, such as spina bifida, in humans. Other projects in the laboratory include uncovering the role of the Alzheimer’s Disease-associated protein Amyloid Precursor Protein in patterning the embryo, and identifying mechanisms that control the onset of circadian rhythms during development.

Visit the Zebrafish in the Classroom website.

Courses Taught

  • Biology 2202 (Genetics Laboratory)
  • Biology 3301 (Patterning the Embryo)
  • Biology 3987 (Biology Seminar)
  • Biology 4361 (Developmental Biology)

Recent Publications

  • Liang, J. O. et al.. 2010. Zebrafish in the Classroom. Direct Website Submission (
  • P. Joshi*, J. O. Liang*, K. DeMonte, J. Sullivan, S. W. Pimplikar. 2009. Amyloid precursor protein is involved in convergence extension movements during development in Zebrafish. Dev. Biol. 335:1-11. *co-first authors
  • Sussman, C. R., J. Zhao, C. Plata, J. Lu, C. Daly, N. Angle, J. DiPiero, Z. M. Josephs, I. Drummond, J. O. Liang, W. F. Boron, M. F. Romero, M.-H. Chang. 2009. Cloning, localization and functional expression of the electrogenic Na+ bicarbonate cotransporter (NBCe1) from zebrafish. Am J Physiol Cell Physiol. 297:C865-75.
  • Liang, J. O. and L. D. Hutson. 2009. Making an impact: zebrafish in education. Zebrafish, 6:119-20.
  • Barresi, M. J., S. A. Farber, L. D. Hutson, D. R. Hyde, J. O. Liang, and J. K. Morris. 2008. Zebrafish in the Classroom: A Meeting Report. Zebrafish, 5: 205-208.
  • Pierce, L. X., R. R. Noche, O. Ponomareva, C. Chang, J. O. Liang. 2008. Novel functions for Period 3 and Exo-rhodopsin in rhythmic transcription and melatonin biosynthesis within the zebrafish pineal organ. Brain Res., 1223:11-24.
  • Aquilina-Beck, A., Q. Liu, K. Ilagan, J. O. Liang. 2007. Nodal signaling is required for closure of the anterior neural tube in zebrafish. BMC Dev. Biol. 7: 126. Listed as a “highly accessed” article.
  • Pierce, L. X., D. Harrison, J. O. Liang. 2007. The Time Reaper 5-channel automatic liquid dispenser: a new tool for the study of embryonic and larval zebrafish. Zebrafish 4: 179-186.
  • Nakamura, Y., G. Weidinger, J. O. Liang, A. Aquilina-Beck, K. Tamai, and M. L. Warman. 2007. Wnt inducible signaling protein 3 (Wisp3) modulates Wnt signaling in zebrafish. J. Clin. Inv., 117: 3075-3086.
  • Plata, C., C. R. Sussman, A. Sinoic, J. O. Liang, D. B. Mount, Z. M. Josephs, M.-H. Chang, M. F. Romero. 2007. A novel electroneutral sodium monocaboxylate transport (SMCTn) is present in zebrafish: A comparison to the electrogenic SMCT (SMCTe/Slc5a8). J. Biol. Chem., 282: 11996-12009.
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