Bachelor's Degree
Guangxi Normal University, Guilin, Guangxi, China, 1982
Master's Degree
Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS, USA, 1994
Doctor of Philosophy
University of Alabama at Birmingham, AL, USA, 2000
Post-Doctoral Degree
Baylor College of Medicine, TX, USA, 2004

Areas of Interest

Research Interests

  • Transcriptional control of cell proliferation and differentiation
  • Skeletal development
  • Cell signaling
  • Genetic modeling of human diseases

The focus of our research is to understand how cells in multicellular organisms such as mammals acquire their identity to become specialized cells, such as bone-forming cells (osteocytes), bone-resorbing cells (osteoclasts), cartilage-forming cells (chondrocytes), or fat-forming cells (adipocytes). Over the last two decades, our laboratory has identified several key intrinsic factors and their related signaling pathways that are required for skeletal homeostasis.  Namely: TGFbeta-Vimentin-ATF4 in mesenchymal stem cells; ATF4-Ihh in chondrocytes; ATF4-Osteocalcin and ATF4-Rankl in osteoblasts; ATF4-Hop2 in committed osteoblasts, and Hop2-C/EBP in committed adipocytes.  Our current work focuses on defining the mechanisms by which ATF4 in cartilage controls the transcription of Rankl and Mmp13 to regulate the transition of cartilage to bone.  Our ultimate is to translate the knowledge gained from such research into developing better and more efficient care plans for people suffer from skeletal diseases including dwarfing conditions, bony nonunion, fracture repair and osteoporosis.


  1. Yang, X, Ji, X, Shi, X, Cao, X. Smad1 domains interacting with Hoxc-8 induce osteoblast differentiation. J Biol Chem, 275(2), 1065-72, 2000
  2. Yang, X, Matsuda, K, Bialek, P, Jacquot, S, Masuoka, HC, Schinke, T, Li, L, Brancorsini, S, Sassone-Corsi, P, Townes, TM, Hanauer, A, Karsenty, G. ATF4 is a substrate of RSK2 and an essential regulator of osteoblast biology; implication for Coffin-Lowry Syndrome. Cell, 117(3), 387-98, 2004
  3. Lian, N, Wang, W, Li, L, Elefteriou, F, Yang, X. Vimentin inhibits ATF4-mediated osteocalcin transcription and osteoblast differentiation. J Biol Chem, 284(44), 30518-25, 2009
  4. Wang, W, Lian, N, Ma, Y, Li, L, Gallant, RC, Elefteriou, F, Yang, X. Chondrocytic Atf4 regulates osteoblast differentiation and function via Ihh. Development, 139(3), 601-11, 2012
  5. Karolak, M.R., Yang, X., Elefteriou, F. FGFR1 signaling in hypertrophic chondrocytes is attenuated by the Ras-GAP neurofibromin during endochondral bone formation. Hum Mol Genet. 2015 24(9):2552-64. PMID: 25616962