Youngsook Lee, PHD

Position title: Associate Professor, Cell and Regenerative Biology


Phone: 608-265-6352

Organ System/Disease Focus:
Heart/congenital heart defects and adult cardiac disease
Aligned Research Focus:
Cardiomyogenesis/stem cell derived cardiac myocytes
Youngsook Lee headshot


More information:
Research Description:

The long-term goal of our laboratory team is to determine the molecular mechanisms that control cardiovascular development.
Malformations of the heart account for the largest number of human birth defects, about 1% of live births. Despite this high frequency of occurrence, the molecular mechanisms that lead to congenital heart defects remain poorly understood. Therefore, identifying and characterizing the factors that control cardiac development are important steps toward understanding the genesis of congenital heart defects and important clinical disorders such as cardiac hypertrophy and heart failure.
Specifically, we perform genome-based approaches to identify novel factors critical for normal cardiac development. Several genes necessary for cardiac development were identified, and we are currently investigating the molecular/developmental roles of these genes. We combine interdisciplinary sciences to address the fundamental questions of the cardiovascular organogenesis and cardiac disease at the molecular, cellular and developmental levels.

Embryonic stem cells provide a useful tool to study the molecular mechanisms of cardiomyogenesis. One goal of stem cell research is the development of specialized cells such as heart muscle cells. The directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells is vital to the ultimate use of such cells in the development of new therapies.

Selected References:
  • He, J.-Q, Ma, Y., Lee, Y., Thomson, J.A., and Kamp, T.J. Human embryonic stem cells develop into multiple types of cardiac myocytes. Circulation Research 93:32-39, 2003. (an editorial article on this paper)
  • Shen, X., Kim, W., Fujiwara, Y., Liu Y., Mysliwiec, M.R., Yuan G-C., Lee, Y., and Orkin, S.H. Jumonji modulates polycomb activity and self-renewal versus differentiation of stem cells. Cell 139:1303-1314, 2009.
  • Mysliwiec, M.R., Carlson C.D., Tietjen, J., Hung, H., Ansari A.Z., and Lee, Y. Jarid2 (JUMONJI, AT rich interactive domain 2) regulates Notch1 expression via histone modification in the developing heart. J. Biol. Chem. 287:1235-1241, 2012. PMCID:PMC3244653.
  • Pereira, R.M., Martinez, G.J., Engel, I., Cruz-Guilloty, F., Barboza, B.A., Tsagaratou, A., Lio, C.W., Berg, L.J., Lee, Y., Kronenberg, M., Bandukwala, H.S., and Rao, A. Jarid2 is induced by TCR signaling and controls iNKT cell maturation. Nature Communications, 5:4540-4553. 2014. PMCID:PMC4314221.
  • Cervantes S., Fontcuberta, M., Servitja, J.M., Fernandez-Ruiz, R., Garcia, A., Sanchez, L., Lee, Y., Gomis, R., and Gasa, R. Late-stage differentiation of embryonic pancreatic b-cells requires Jarid2. Scientific Report, 7(1): 11643, 2017.