Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology

Michael Leffak, Ph.D., Interim Chair

Weiwen Long, Ph.D.



Weiwen Long, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor
Office: 112 Diggs Lab
Lab: 104 Diggs Lab
(937) 775-3172


Ph.D.: 2005 Tulane University (Dr. Frank E. Jones)
Postdoctoral: Baylor College of Medicine (Dr. Bert W. O’Malley)

Research Interests

My research interests and expertise have been directed to the fields of growth factor signaling, steroid receptor/coactivator signaling, and the interplay between these two signaling pathways in cancer progression and metastasis. Our current research interests/projects include:

  1.    ERK3 signaling in cancer progression and metastasis. ERK3 is a member of the atypical MAP kinase subfamily. In contrast to the well-studied classic MAPKs, such as ERK1/2, little is known concerning the molecular regulation of ERK3 signaling and its function in cancers. We recently identified a novel function of ERK3 in promoting lung cancer cell invasiveness by phosphorylating SRC-3 (steroid receptor coactivator 3) and regulating its proinvasive activity. In addition, we have found that ERK3 expression is upregulated in multiple cancers, including lung cancer and breast cancer, and its upregulation is associated with cancer invasiveness. These findings suggest that ERK3 may play important roles in cancer progression and metastasis. We are currently pursuing the following projects to elucidate ERK3 signaling cascade and its functions in cancer:
    a. To dissect ERK3 signaling pathway utilizing a variety of biochemical approaches including Mass spectrometry-based proteomics: the upstream stimuli and activators and the downstream effectors (substrates).
    b. To determine the role of ERK3 signaling in cancer progression and metastasis (currently with a focus on lung cancer) utilizing genetically engineered mouse tumor models with tissue-specific ERK3 knock-in or knock-out.
    c. To determine the interplay of ERK3 and SRC-3 in anti-hormone resistance of breast cancer.
  2.    Role of SRC-3∆4 in anti-hormone resistant breast and prostate cancer progression and metastasis. Cross-talk between protein kinase signaling and hormone receptor signaling confers anti-hormone resistance and tumor invasiveness in breast and prostate cancers. Interestingly, we have recently found that SRC-3∆4, a splice isoform of SRC-3, not only functions as a transcriptional coactivator of steroid receptors, but also acts as a signaling adaptor to meditate EGF signal transduction and cell motility. These findings suggest that SRC-3∆4 may mediate the cross-talk between growth factor signaling and steroid receptor signaling to promote anti-hormone resistance and tumor invasiveness in breast and/or prostate cancer. To test this hypothesis, the following two projects are being pursued.
    a. To define the role of SRC-3Δ4 in the crosstalk between EGF signaling and AR signaling in castration-resistant prostate cancer progression.
    b. To investigate whether SRC-3∆4 integrates E2 non-genomic and genomic actions to promote breast cancer progression and elicit anti-estrogen resistance.


Weiwen Long, Bert W. O’Malley. 2013. Steroid receptor coactivators (SRCs) as integrators of multiple signaling pathways in cancer progression (Book chapter). Nuclear Signaling Pathways and Targeting Transcription in Cancer (edited by Rakesh Kumar). Springer, In press.

Liu, J., Y. Wang, L. Li, L. Zhou, H. Wei, Q. Zhou, J. Liu, W. Wang, L. Ji, P. Shan, Y. Wang, Y. Yang, S. Y. Jung, P. Zhang, C. Wang, W. Long, B. Zhang, and X. Li. 2013. Site-specific acetylation of the proteasome activator REGgamma directs its heptameric structure and functions. J Biol Chem 288:16567-78.

Long, W., Foulds, C.E., Qin, J., Liu, J., Ding, C., Lonard, D.M., Solis, L.M., Wistuba, II, Qin, J., Tsai, S.Y., Tsai M.J., O'Malley B.W. 2012. ERK3 signals through SRC-3 coactivator to promote human lung cancer cell invasion. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 122:1869-1880.

Long W, Yi P, Amazit L, LaMarca HL, Ashcroft F, Kumar R, Mancini MA, Tsai SY, Tsai MJ, O'Malley BW. 2010. SRC-3∆4 mediates the interaction of EGFR with FAK to promote cell migration. Molecular Cell, 37(3):321-32.

Hartig SM, He B, Long W, Buehrer BM, Mancini MA. 2011. Homeostatic levels of SRC-2 and SRC-3 promote early human adipogenesis. Journal of Cell Biology, 192(1):55-67.

Long W, O’Malley BW. 2010. Cross-talk among nuclear receptor coactivators and a membrane receptor promotes tumor cell growth and migration. Cell Cycle, 9(12):2269-2270.

Liu J, Yu G, Zhao Y, Zhao D, Wang Y, Wang L, Liu J, Li L, Zeng Y, Dang Y, Wang C, Gao G, Long W, Lonard DM, Qiao S, Tsai MJ, Zhang B, Luo H, Li X. 2010. REGgamma modulates p53 activity by regulating its cellular localization. Journal of Cell Science, 123:4076-4084.

Foulds CE, Tsimelzon A, Long W, Le A, Tsai SY, Tsai MJ, O'Malley BW. 2010. Expression profiling reveals unexpected targets and functions of the human steroid receptor RNA activator (SRA) gene. Molecular Endocrinology, 24:1090-105.

Li X, Amazit L, Long W, Lonard DM, Monaco JJ, O'Malley BW. 2007. Ubiquitin- and ATP-Independent Proteolytic Turnover of p21 by the REGγ-Proteasome Pathway. Molecular Cell, 26:831-842.

Naresh A, Long W, Vidal GA, Wimley WC, Marrero L, Sartor CI, Tovey S, Cooke TG, Bartlett JM, Jones FE. 2006. The ERBB4/HER4 intracellular domain 4ICD is a BH3-only protein promoting apoptosis of breast cancer cells. Cancer Research, 66(12):6412-20. (Long W, co-first author).

Long W, Wagner KU, Lloyd KC, Binart N, Shillingford JM, Hennighausen L, Jones FE. 2003. Impaired differentiation and lactational failure of ERBB4-deficient mammary glands identify ERBB4 as an obligate mediator of STAT5. Development, 130(21):5257-68.

Clark DE, Williams CC, Duplessis TT, Moring KL, Notwick AR, Long W, Lane WS, Beuvink I, Hynes NE, Jones FE. 2005. ERBB4/HER4 potentiates STAT5A transcriptional activity by regulating novel STAT5A serine phosphorylation events. Journal of Biological Chemistry, 280(25):24175-80.

Li, L., S. Cleary, Long W., M. A. Mandarano., C. Birchmeier, and F. E. Jones. 2002. The breast proto-oncogene, HRGα regulates epithelial proliferation and lobuloalveolar functional development in the mouse mammary gland. Oncogene, 21:4900-4907.