Shan Yan, PhD, Professor and Associate Chair for Research

Research Interests: Molecular Mechanisms of Genome Integrity

Research Areas: Cancer Biology, Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Developmental Biology, Environmental Health, Xenopus laevis

Lab website:


Dr. Yan:

Dr. Shan Yan is Professor and Associate Chair for Research in the Department of Biological Sciences at UNC Charlotte. After postdoctoral/research training in the Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology at Harvard University, he joined the faculty of UNC Charlotte as tenure-track Assistant Professor in 2010 and was promoted to Associate Professor (with tenure) in 2016 and Full Professor in 2019. Since 2017, Dr. Yan has initiated and directed the Charlotte Biology and Biotechnology (CBB) Exchange Group co-sponsored by North Carolina Biotechnology Center and UNC Charlotte. He is also a Program Leader of the Genome Integrity and Cancer Initiative (GICI) at UNC Charlotte.

The Yan laboratory is focused on the molecular mechanisms of genome integrity and cancer etiology and has made several contributions to science: (1) Dissecting DNA single-strand break repair and signaling pathways (Lin et al., Nucleic Acids Res, 2018; Yan et al., Nat Struct Mol Biol, 2019; Lin et al., Nucleic Acids Res, 2020; (2) Elucidating molecular mechanisms of DNA damage response pathway in oxidative stress (Willis et al., PNAS, 2013; Yan et al., Cell Mol Life Sci, 2014; Wallace et al., PNAS, 2017; Cupello et al., Biochem J, 2019); (3) Revealing the molecular mechanism of maintaining ssDNA stability (Bai et al., Cell Signal, 2014; Ha et al., J Biol Chem, 2020; Lin et al., eLife, 2023); (4) Demonstrating novel regulatory mechanisms of nucleolar DNA damage response by liquid-liquid phase separation and biomolecular condensates (Li et al., Nucleic Acids Res, 2022; Li and Yan, Trends Cell Biol, 2023); and (5) Characterizing novel basic mechanisms of cancer etiology and therapeutics (Li et al., Cancer Res, 2017; Jensen et al., Sci Rep, 2020; Hu et al., Cancer Res, 2021; Hossain et al., Front Cell Dev Biol, 2021; McMahon et al., NAR Cancer, 2023). The research in the Yan lab has been supported by funds from UNC Charlotte, and grants from external funding agencies including NCBC and the NIH (NCI, NIEHS, and NIGMS) through R01, R21, R03, and R15 mechanisms.

Dr. Yan’s achievements in research and teaching have been recognized by several honors and awards. He is the recipient of the 2023 EMGS Education Award from the Environmental Mutagenesis & Genomics Society (EMGS). Dr. Yan is granted the 2022 Outstanding Data Science Faculty Research Award from School of Data Science at UNC Charlotte. Dr. Yan also served on several leadership roles such as Director on the Board of Directors of the Federation of American Society For Experimental Biology (FASEB), Chair of the Publication Policy Committee of the EMGS, and Chair of the Competitive Grant Committee in the University Faculty Council at UNC Charlotte.

Dr. Yan has served as grant reviewer for several NIH Study Sections and NSF Review Panels. He has also been Associate Editor, Managing Editor or Editorial Board Member for several peer-reviewed journals including Environmental and Molecular Mutagenesis (EMM), Computational and Structural Biotechnology Journal (CSBJ), Plos ONE, and Frontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology. Dr. Yan has been manuscript reviewer for >50 leading scientific journals such as Science, Trends in Cell Biology (TCB), Nature Communications, Nucleic Acids Research (NAR), PNAS, Cancer Research, eLife, Cell Reports, Molecular Biology of the Cell (MBoC), and Journal of Biological Chemistry (JBC).


Yan Lab Research:

All eukaryotes have evolved an elaborate network, DNA damage response (DDR), to detect aberrant DNA structures or stalled replication forks, and to coordinate DNA repair, checkpoint activation, cell cycle arrest, and senescence/apoptosis. From a broader perspective, the DDR machinery plays important roles in fundamental biomedical fields, such as DNA replication, DNA damage repair, cell cycle regulation, transcription, apoptosis, senescence, and autophagy. Defective DDR pathways compromise genomic integrity, leading to human diseases.

The research projects in the Yan lab focus on several essential questions linking DDR and human diseases, such as cancer, sepsis, aging, and neurodegenerative disorders. Using biochemical, molecular and cell biology approaches, our laboratory is interested in crucial issues in maintaining genomic stability, including checkpoint activation, DNA damage repair, and translesion synthesis (TLS) in response to DNA replication stress and oxidative stress as well as other stressful conditions. Ultimately, our research program will help to better understand how cells maintain genome stability and to provide novel clues for detection and treatment of human diseases. Xenopus egg extracts and mammalian cell lines will be used as model systems to investigate fundamental biomedical questions with cutting-edge technologies. One aim of this lab is to establish a motivated and productive research team. You are welcome to visit and/or join us!


Research Projects:

(1) DNA single/double-strand break repair and signaling

(2) Oxidative stress response and redox regulation

(3) DNA replication stress response in genome stability

(4) DNA repair and DNA damage response pathways in human diseases (cancer, sepsis, aging, and neurodegenerative diseases)

(5) Biomolecular condensates (liquid-liquid phase separation) in DNA repair and DDR

Representative Publications (*corresponding author):

(1)  Willis J, Patel Y, Lentz B,  Yan S*. 2013. APE2 is required for ATR-Chk1 checkpoint activation in response to oxidative stress. PNAS. 110 (26): 10592-10597.

(2) Yan S*, Sorrell M, Berman Z. 2014. Functional interplay between ATM/ATR-mediated DNA damage response and DNA repair pathways in oxidative stress. Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences. 71 (20): 3951-3967.

(3) Wallace BD, Berman Z,, Mueller GA, Lin Y, Chang T, Andres SN, Wojtaszek JL, DeRose EF, Appel CD, London RE, Yan S*, Williams RS*. 2017.  APE2 Zf-GRF facilitates 3′-5′ resection of DNA damage following oxidative stress. PNAS. 114 (2):304-309.

(4) Lin Y, Bai L, Cupello S, Hossain MA, Deem B, McLeod M, Raj J, Yan S*. 2018. APE2 promotes DNA damage response pathway from a single-strand break. Nucleic Acids Research. 46 (5): 2479-2494.

(5) Yan S*. 2019. Resolution of a complex crisis at DNA 3′ termini. Nature Structural & Molecular Biology. 26 (5): 335-336.

(6) Ha A, Lin Y, and Yan S*. 2020. A non-canonical role for the DNA glycosylase NEIL3 in suppressing APE1 endonucleasemediated ssDNA damage.Journal of Biological Chemistry. 295 (41): 14222-14235.

(7) Lin Y, Raj J, Li J, Ha A, Hossain MA, Richardson C, Mukherjee P, Yan S*. 2020. APE1 senses DNA single-strand breaks for repair and signaling. Nucleic Acids Research. 48(4):1925-1940.

(8) Li J, Zhao H, McMahon A, Yan S*. 2022. APE1 assembles biomolecular condensates to promote the ATR-Chk1 DNA damage response in nucleolus. Nucleic Acids Research. 50(18):10503-10525.

(9 Li J, Yan S*. 2023. Molecular mechanisms of nucleolar DNA damage checkpoint response. Trends in Cell Biology. 33 (5): 361-364.

(10) Lin Y, Li J, Zhao H, McMahon A, McGhee K, Yan S*. 2023. APE1 recruits ATRIP to ssDNA in an RPA-dependent and -independent manner to promote the ATR DNA damage response. eLife. 12: e82324.

(11) McMahon A, Zhao J,  Yan S*. 2024. Ubiquitin-mediated regulation of APE2 protein abundance. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 300 (6): 107337.


Click the link for the video (~10 minutes):    JoVE-Video

Willis J, DeStephanis D, Patel Y, Gowda V, and Yan S*. 2012. Study of the DNA damage checkpoint using Xenopus egg extracts. Journal of Visualized Experiments. (69): e4449 10.3791/4449. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3791/4449


Click the link for the webinar by Dr. Yan to the NIH DNA Repair Interest Group (~65minutes): Videocast at NIH.


Department of Biological Sciences website:https://biology.charlotte.edu/

College of Science website: https://science.charlotte.edu/

ORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0001-8106-6295

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