Rui Xiao, Ph.D.

Published: July 30th, 2015

Category: Faculty

Profile Picture


Assistant Professor


2004 Mowry Rd.
Gainesville, FL 32611

PO Box 100143
Gainesville, FL 32610






Departmental Affiliation

Biology of Aging Division, Department of Aging and Geriatric Research, College of Medicine


2000 Bachelor of Science in Biology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
2003 Master of Science in Cell Biology, Beijing Normal University, Beijing, China
2008 Ph.D. in Biophysics, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH, USA


08/2015 - present Tenure-Track Assistant Professor, Departments of Aging and Geriatric Research, Division of Biology of Aging, Institute on Aging, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA.
02/2009 - 07/2015 Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Life Sciences Institute, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA

Teaching Experience:
Genetics of aging, neuroscience, physiology, sensory transduction


Honors and Awards:
• Pepper Scholar, University of Florida Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Center (OAIC) (2015-present)
• AHA Postdoctoral Fellowship, the American Heart Association (2011-2013)
• Outstanding Academic Achievement Award, Biophysics Program, the Ohio State University, Columbus, OH (2008)
• National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Scholarship Winner, the Transient Receptor Potential Ion Channel Superfamily Meeting, Keystone Symposium (2007)
• Outstanding Academic Achievement Award, Biophysics Program, the Ohio State University, Columbus, OH (2006)

Society Memberships:
• The Biophysical Society (2005-present)
• The Genetics Society of America (2009-present)

Research Support:
- University of Florida Startup Fund 08/01/2015-present
- NIH T32 AG000114 Postdoctoral Training Grant, National Institute of Aging 04/2013-04/2015

Professional Interests

Research Interests:

We are interested in understanding the fundamental biology of the interactions between genetic factors and environmental factors in the process of animal aging. Questions asked in the lab include how do animals perceive and respond to environmental cues throughout their lives? what are the functions of membrane ion channels and receptors in aging? how do aging-related transcription factors integrate distinct sensory inputs? etc. To address these questions, we mainly use the genetic model organism C. elegans because of its short generation period and lifespan and powerful genetic tools. Approaches used in the lab include molecular genetics, lifespan and stress assays, calcium imaging and fluorescence imaging, protein biochemistry, and electrophysiology.

Environmental modulation of aging: Animal aging is determined by both genetic factors and environmental factors. In the past two decades, tremendous amount of research efforts have been put on the genetics of aging, leading to the discovery of several evolutionarily conserved signaling pathway in aging, including insulin/IGF-1 signaling (IIS), dietary restriction (DR) pathway, mitochondrial signaling, germ-line signaling, etc. However, relatively little is known on the underlying mechanisms of how various environmental cues (including diet, temperature, social interaction, microbiome, alternative medicine, etc.) regulate longevity. Using the temperature- and diet-modulated aging process as an entry point, we are interested in identifying novel genes and pathways that regulate lifespan in diet- and temperature-dependent manners.

Sensory modulation of aging: Sensory transduction has great impacts in nearly every aspect of animal life, including aging. Animals use their sensory system to perceive and respond to various sensory inputs such as temperature, food, light, and mechanical stimuli. Ion channels and membrane receptors are typically the initial detectors of these sensory inputs. We are interested in deciphering the functions of various ion channels, membrane receptors, and their downstream targets in aging.

Metabolism, aging and cancer: Metabolic disorders are directly associated with aging and cancer development. We are interested in the changes of metabolism during aging and tumorigenesis. As an essential intracellular energy sensing module, mTOR signaling plays a central role in cellular growth, caner development, and aging. We have obtained genetic evidence showing that mTOR signaling integrates multiple upstream signals during C. elegans aging. We are interested in identifying signaling events upstream and downstream of mTOR activation in the process of animal aging and tumorigenesis.

Other Professional Activities:
Reviewer for the following academic journals:
• Journal of Neuroscience
• Genetics
• Neurological Research
• Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology
• Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Reports
• International Journal of Immunopathology and Pharmacology
• General Physiology and Biophysics
• International Journal of Medical Sciences
• Journal of Integrative Neuroscience
• Archives of Biochemistry and Biophysics

Teaching Interests:
Genetics of aging, neuroscience, physiology, sensory transduction


Peer-reviewed Publications

  1. Zou W, Fu J, Zhang H, Du K, Huang W, Yu J, Li S, Fan Y, Baylis HA, Gao S, Xiao R, Ji W#, Kang L#, Xu T# (2018) Decoding the intensity of sensory input by two glutamate receptors in one C. elegans interneuron. Nature Communications, 9:4311. PMID:30333484
  2. Yue X, Zhao J, Li X, Fan Y, Zhang H, Duan D, Zhang X, Zou W, Sheng Y, Zhang T, Yang Q, Luo J, Duan S, Xiao R# (co-corresponding author), Kang L# (co-corresponding author). (2018) TMC Proteins Modulate Egg Laying and Membrane Excitability through a Background Leak Conductance in C. elegans. Neuron, 97(3): 571-585. PMID:29395910
  3. Zhang B, Gong J, Zhang W, Xiao R, Liu J, and Xu XZ. (2018) Brain-gut communications via distinct neuroendocrine signals bi-directionally regulate longevity in C. elegans. Genes & Development, 23: 258-270. PMID:29491136
  4. Sheng Y, Tang L, Kang L & Xiao R. (2017) Membrane ion channels and receptors in animal lifespan modulation. J Cell Physiol., 232(11):2946-2956. (featured as cover) -PMID:28121014
  5. Xiao R, Liu J & Xu XZ (2015). Thermosensation and longevity. J Comp Physiol A-Neuroethol Sens Neural Behav Physiol., 201(9):857-67. PMID:26101089
  6. Zhang B, Xiao R, Ronan EA, He Y, Hsu AL, Liu J & Xu XZ (2015) Environmental Temperature Differentially Modulates C. elegans Longevity through a Thermosensitive TRP Channel. Cell Rep., 11(9):1414-24. PMID:26027928
  7. Xiao R, Chun L, Ronan EA, Friedman DI, Liu J & Xu XZ. (2015) RNAi Interrogation of Dietary Modulation of Development, Metabolism, Behavior, and Aging in C. elegans. Cell Rep., 11(7):1123-33. PMID:25959815
  8. Xiao, R., Zhang, B., Dong, Y., Gong, J., Xu, T., Liu, J. & Xu, X.Z.S (2013). A genetic program promotes longevity at cold temperatures via a thermo-sensitive TRP channel. Cell, 152(4):806-17. PMID:23415228.
  9. Xiao, R. & Xu, X.Z.S. (2011). C. elegans TRP channels. Adv Exp Med Biol., 704:323-39. PMID:21290304.
  10. Xiao, R. & Xu, X.Z.S. (2010). Mechanosensitive channels: in touch with Piezo. Curr Biol. 20(21):R936-8. PMID:21056836.
  11. Hu, H.*, Tian, J.*, Zhu, Y.*, Wang, C., Xiao, R., Herz, J.M., Wood, J.D. & Zhu, M.X. (2010) Activation of TRPA1 channels by fenamate nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Pflugers Arch. 459(4):579-92. PMID:19888597.
  12. Xiao, R. & Xu, X.Z.S. (2009) Function and regulation of TRP family channels in C. elegans. Pflugers Arch. 458(5):851-60. PMID:19421772.
  13. Calcraft, P.J., Ruas, M., Pan, Z., Cheng, X., Arredouani, A., Hao, X., Tang, J., Rietdorf, K., Teboul, L., Chuang, K.T., Lin, P., Xiao, R., Wang, C., Zhu, Y., Lin, Y., Wyatt, C.N., Parrington, J., Ma, J., Evans, A.M., Galione, A. & Zhu, M.X. (2009) NAADP mobilizes calcium from acidic organelles through two-pore channels. Nature 459(7246):596-600. PMID:19387438.
  14. Sidiropoulou, K., Lu, F.M., Fowler, M.A., Xiao, R., Phillips, C., Ozkan, E.D., Zhu, M.X., White, F.J. & Cooper, D.C. (2009) Dopamine modulates an intrinsic mGluR5-mediated depolarization underlying prefrontal persistent activity. Nat Neurosci. 12(2):190-9. PMID:19169252.
  15. Otsuguro, K.I., Tang, J., Tang, Y., Xiao, R., Freichel, M., Tsvilovskyy, V., Ito, S., Flockerzi, V., Zhu, M.X. & Zholos, A.V. (2008) Isoform-specific inhibition of TRPC4 channel by phosphatidylinositol 4,5-bisphosphate. J Bio Chem. 283(15):10026-36. PMID:18230622.
  16. Xiao, R., Tang, J., Wang, C., Colton, C.K., Tian, J. & Zhu, M.X. (2008) Calcium plays a central role in the sensitization of TRPV3 channel to repetitive stimulations. J Biol Chem. 283(10):6162-74. PMID:18178557.
  17. Xiao, R.*, Tian, J.*, Tang, J. & Zhu, M.X. (2008) The TRPV3 mutation associated with the hairless phenotype in rodents is constitutively active. Cell Calcium. 43(4):334-43. (* Co-first authors). PMID:17706768.
  18. Xu, M., Cao, R., Xiao, R., Zhu, M.X. & Gu, C. (2007) The axon-dendrite targeting of Kv3 (Shaw) channels is determined by a targeting motif that associates with the T1 domain and ankyrin G. J Neurosci. 27(51):14158-70. PMID:18094255.
  19. Hu, H.Z.*, Xiao, R.*, Wang, C.*, Gao, N., Colton, C.K., Wood, J.D. & Zhu, M.X. (2006) Potentiation of TRPV3 channel function by unsaturated fatty acids. J Cell Physiol. 208(1):201-12. (* Co-first authors). PMID:16557504
  20. Ordaz, B., Tang, J., Xiao, R., Salgado, A., Sampieri, A., Zhu, M.X. & Vaca, L. (2005) Calmodulin and calcium interplay in the modulation of TRPC5 channel activity. Identification of a novel C-terminal domain for calcium/calmodulin-mediated facilitation. J Biol Chem. 280(35):30788-96. PMID:15987684
  21. Kinoshita-Kawada, M., Tang, J., Xiao, R., Kaneko, S., Foskett, J.K. & Zhu MX. (2005) Inhibition of TRPC5 channels by Ca2+-binding protein 1 in Xenopus oocytes.  Pflugers Arch. 450(5):345-54. PMID:15895247
  22. Xiao, R. & Cui, Z.J. (2004) Mutual dependence of VIP/PACAP and CCK receptor signaling for a physiological role in duck exocrine pancreatic secretion. Am J Physiol-Regul Integr Comp Physiol. 286(1):R189-98 PMID:12947031
  23. An, Y.P., Xiao, R., Cui, H. & Cui, Z.J. (2003) Selective activation by photodynamic action of cholecystokinin receptor in the freshly isolated rat pancreatic acini. Br J Pharmacol. 139(4):872-80 PMID:12813011


Invited Book Chapter

Xiao R, Xu XZ. (2010) Studying TRP channels in C. elegans. In CRC Methods in Signaling Transduction Series-TRP Channels. (CRC press)

Selected Oral Research Presentations:

  1. Xiao R. (2006) TRP channels in thermosensation. Biophysics Graduate Program, Ohio State University, USA.
  2.  Xiao R. (2007) Synergistic activation of TRPC4 and TRPC5 by receptors that couple to Gq/11 and Gi/o heterotrimeric G proteins. Transient Receptor Potential Ion Channel Superfamily Meeting, Keystone Symposium, USA.
  3. Xiao R. (2014) Nuclear regulation of DAF-16/FOXO – what we learnt from the cold-promoted longevity in C. elegans. University of Michigan Aging Research Symposium, University of Michigan, USA
  4. Xiao R. (2015) Cellular sensors in the environmental modulation of animal physiology and aging. Department of Biological Sciences, Lehigh University, USA
  5. Xiao R. (2015) Cellular sensors in the environmental modulation of animal physiology and aging. Institute on Aging, University of Florida, USA