Faculty : Departmental- Primary

Xiang-Xi (Mike) Xu, Ph.D.

Our laboratory research explores the molecular mechanisms of epithelial differentiation and morphogenesis during embryogenesis and the alterations that lead to epithelial cell transformation in carcinogenesis. One hallmark of carcinomas, malignancies of epithelial origin, is the loss of cell positional organization: cancer cells are no longer arranged as a discrete epithelium. Thus, genes and mechanisms governing epithelial cell organization are obviously necessary targets of carcinogenic alterations. Often these genes and mechanisms are also involved in epithelial morphogenesis during embryonic development. The laboratory concentrates on two epithelial biological systems: the transformation of the ovarian surface epithelium to cancer, and the genesis of the primitive endoderm, an epithelial structure in early embryos. We have recognized a striking conservation in the molecular mechanisms and genes
between epithelial morphogenesis and neoplastic transformation, and are studied in parallel both development and cancer. We hope that the studies will reveal critical mechanisms in ovarian carcinogenesis and also contribute to the fundamental understanding of cell differentiation and morphogenesis in early embryonic development. Specifically, our main research projects include the following:

  • Mechanisms in cell differentiation and pattern formation in primitive endoderm development and early embryogenesis.
  • The role of Dab2 gene in epithelial polarity and in morphological transformation of carcinoma cells.
  • The role of GATA transcription factors in epithelial dedifferentiation of ovarian cancer cells.
  • Development and study of an ovarian tumor mouse model reflecting postmenopausal ovarian cancer risk.
  • Role of nuclear envelope defects in chromosomal instability and cancer.


Professional Affiliations

University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center

Select Publications


Smith ER, George SH, Kobetz E, Xu XX. New biological research and understanding of Papanicolaou’s test. Diagn Cytopathol. 2018 Jun;46(6):507-515.

Meng Y, Moore R, Tao W, Smith ER, Tse JD, Caslini C, Xu XX. GATA6 phosphorylation by Erk1/2 propels exit from pluripotency and commitment to primitive endoderm. Dev Biol. 2018 Apr 1;436(1):55-65.

Meng Y, Cai KQ, Moore R, Tao W, Tse JD, Smith ER, Xu XX. Pten facilitates epiblast epithelial polarization and proamniotic lumen formation in early mouse embryos. Dev Dyn. 2017 Jul;246(7):517-530.

Smith ER, Meng Y, Moore R, Tse JD, Xu AG, Xu XX. Nuclear envelope structural proteins facilitate nuclear shape changes accompanying embryonic differentiation and fidelity of gene expression. BMC Cell Biol. 2017 Jan 14;18(1):8.

Tao W, Moore R, Smith ER, Xu XX. Endocytosis and Physiology: Insights from Disabled-2 Deficient Mice. Front Cell Dev Biol. 2016 Nov 25;4:129.

Capo-Chichi CD, Yeasky TM, Smith ER, Xu XX. Nuclear envelope structural defect underlies the main cause of aneuploidy in ovarian carcinogenesis. BMC Cell Biol. 2016 Nov 22;17(1):37.

Tao W, Moore R, Meng Y, Yeasky TM, Smith ER, Xu XX. Disabled-2 Determines Commitment of a Pre-adipocyte Population in Juvenile Mice. Sci Rep. 2016 Oct 25;6:35947.

Wang Y, Cai KQ, Smith ER, Yeasky TM, Moore R, Ganjei-Azar P, Klein-Szanto AJ, Godwin AK, Hamilton TC, Xu XX. Follicle Depletion Provides a Permissive Environment for Ovarian Carcinogenesis. Mol Cell Biol. 2016 Sep 15;36(18):2418-30.

Tao W, Moore R, Meng Y, Smith ER, Xu XX. Endocytic adaptors Arh and Dab2 control homeostasis of circulatory cholesterol. J Lipid Res. 2016 Mar 22. pii: jlr.M063065.

Amika C Rampersad, Ying Wang, Elizabeth R Smith, Xiang-Xi Xu: Menopause and ovarian cancer risk: mechanisms and experimental support. Am J Clin Exp Obstet Gynecol (AJCEOG) 2015;2(1):14-23.

Cai KQ, Wang Y, Smith ER, Smedberg JL, Yang DH, Yang WL, Xu XX. Global deletion of Trp53 reverts ovarian tumor phenotype of the germ cell-deficient white spotting variant (wv) mice. Neoplasia. 2015 Jan;17(1):89-100.

Tao W, Moore R, Smith ER, Xu XX. Hormonal Induction and Roles of Disabled-2 in Lactation and Involution. PLoS One. 2014 Oct 31; 9(10):e110737.

Moore R, Tao W, Smith ER, Xu XX. Primitive Endoderm Segregates from Epiblast in β1 Integrin Deficient Early Mouse Embryos. Mol Cell Biol. 2014 Feb;34(3):560-72.

Moore R, Meng Y, Tao W, Smith ER, Xu XX. Cell adhesion and sorting in embryoid bodies drived from N- or E-cadherin deficient murine embryonic stem cells. Biol Open. 2014 Feb 15;3(2):121-8.

Smith ER, Wang Y,* Xu XX*. Development of a Mouse Model of Menopausal Ovarian Cancer. Front Oncol. 2014 Feb 26;4:36.

Smith ER, Yang WL, Yeasky T, Smedberg J, Cai KQ, Xu XX. Cyclooxygenase-1 inhibition prolongs postnatal ovarian follicle lifespan in mice. Biol Reprod. 2013 Oct 31;89(4):103.

Moore R, Cai KQ, Tao W, Smith ER, Xu XX. Differential requirement for Dab2 in the development of embryonic and extra-embryonic tissues. BMC Dev Biol. 2013 Oct 29;13(1):39.

Callinice D Capo-chichi, Elizabeth R Smith, Santas Rosario, Parvin Ganjei-Azar, Xiang-Xi Xu. Nuclear envelope defects in epithelial ovarian cancer. American Journal of Clinical and Experimental Obstetrics and Gynecology (AJCEOG), 2013;1(1):17-30. www.ajceog.us /ISSN:2330-1899/AJCEOG1310006

Smith ER, Yeasky T, Wei JQ, Miki RA, Cai KQ, Smedberg JL, Yang WL, Xu XX. White spotting variant (Wv) mouse as an experimental model for ovarian aging and menopausal biology. Menopause. 2012 May;19(5):588-96.

Capo-Chichi CD, Cai KQ, Simpkins F, Ganjei-Azar P, Godwin AK, Xu XX. Nuclear envelope structural defects cause chromosomal numerical instability and aneuploidy in ovarian cancer. BMC Med. 2011 Mar 26;9(1):28.

Capo-chichi CD, Cai KQ, Smedberg J, Ganjei-Azar P, Godwin AK, Xu XX. Loss of A-type lamin expression compromises nuclear envelope integrity in breast cancer. Chin J Cancer. 2011 Jun;30(6):415-25.

Heiber JF, Xu XX, Barber GN. Potential of vesicular stomatitis virus as an oncolytic therapy for recurrent and drug-resistant ovarian cancer. Chin J Cancer. 2011 Dec;30(12):805-14.

Smith ER, Zhang XY, Capo-Chichi CD, Chen X, Xu XX. Increased expression of Syne1/nesprin-1 facilitates nuclear envelope structure changes in embryonic stem cell differentiation. Dev Dyn. 2011 Oct;240(10):2245-55.

Capo-chichi CD, Yeasky TM, Heiber JF, Wang Y, Barber GN, Xu XX. Explicit targeting of transformed cells by VSV in ovarian epithelial tumor-bearing Wv mouse models. Gynecol Oncol. 2010;116(2):269-75.

Smith ER, Cai KQ, Smedberg JL, Ribeiro MM, Rula ME, Slater C, Godwin AK, Xu XX. Nuclear entry of activated MAPK is restricted in primary ovarian and mammary epithelial cells. PLoS One. 2010 Feb 18;5(2):e9295.

Wang Y, Smedberg JL, Cai CQ, Capo-chichi DC, Xu XX. Ectopic expression of GATA6 bypasses requirement for Grb2 in primitive endoderm formation. Dev Dyn. 2011 Mar;240(3):566-76.

Capo-Chichi CD, Smedberg JL, Rula M, Nicolas E, Yeung AT, Adamo RF, Frolov A, Godwin AK, Xu XX. Alteration of Differentiation Potentials by Modulating GATA Transcription Factors in Murine Embryonic Stem Cells. Stem Cells Int. 2010 May 11;2010:602068.

Yang DH, Smith ER, Cai KQ, Xu XX. c-fos elimination compensates for disabled-2 requirement in mouse extraembryonic endoderm development. Dev Dyn. 2009 Feb 2; 238(3):514-523.

Smith ER, Xu XX. REDD1, a new Ras oncogenic effector. Cell Cycle 2009 Mar 1;8(5):675-6.

Cai KQ, Wu H, Klein-Szanto AJ, Xu XX. Acquisition of a second mutation of the Tp53 alleles immediately precedes epithelial morphological transformation in ovarian tumorigenicity. Gynecol Oncol. 2009 Jul;114(1):18-25.

Moore R, Cai KQ, Escudero DO, Xu XX. Cell adhesive affinity does not dictate primitive endoderm segregation and positioning during murine embryoid body formation. Genesis. 2009 Sep;47(9):579-89.

Cai KQ, Caslini C, Capo-chichi CD, Slater C, Smith ER, Wu H, Klein-Szanto AJ, Godwin AK, Xu XX. Loss of GATA4 and GATA6 Expression Specifies Ovarian Cancer Histological Subtypes and Precedes Neoplastic Transformation of Ovarian Surface Epithelia. PLoS One. 2009 Jul 31;4(7):e6454.

Smith ER, Cai KQ, Capo-Chichi CD, Xu X. Aberrant epithelial differentiation in ovarian cancer. Cancer Treat Res. 2009;149:147-63.

Capo-chichi CD, Cai KQ, Testa JR, Godwin AK, Xu XX. Loss of GATA6 leads to nuclear deformation and aneuploidy in ovarian cancer. Mol Cell Biol. 2009 Sep;29(17):4766-77.

View published research articles by Dr. Xu in the National Library of Medicine.