February 2014 Research Spotlight: Xinrui Li

Xinrui Li photoDr. Xinrui Li received her B.S. in Life Sciences from Fudan University, China in 2003, and her Ph.D. in Cell Biology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2009. She conducted her postdoctoral training under Dr. Robert Kimberly and Dr. Jeff Edberg.  She is currently an Instructor in the Division of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology. She is interested in identifying genetic and epigenetic factors associated with systemic autoimmune diseases and delineating how these factors impact biological outcomes.  
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One major focus of Dr. Li and colleagues in Dr. Kimberly’s group is studying immunoglobulin receptors (Fc receptors) and their functions. Understanding the role of Fc receptors is critical to the development of effective antibody-based therapeutics. Until recently, FcγRIIb was the only known classical IgG receptor on B cell. When engaged, FcγRIIb counteracts activation induced by B cell receptor.  Dr. Li’s recent publication has reported that a second IgG receptor, FcγRIIc, exists on B cells in an allele-dependent manner. When this receptor is expressed, it counterbalances the negative feedback mediated by FcγRIIb, thus, revising the classical paradigm of immune regulation.  This paradigm-shifting discovery was independently reported by SciBx, a weekly Nature publication focusing on scientific discoveries expected to have significant translational impact and commercial value.