Dr. Meng Cai

Meng Cai Profile

Meng was awarded his PhD in 2007 from Huazhong Agricultural University in Wuhan, China. His PhD projects focused on transcriptional gene regulation mechanisms in rice, specifically how transcriptional factors and promoter cis-elements work together to control the mRNA transcription of a tissue-specific gene (D54O) and a pathogen-inducible gene (D53I). These studies resulted in the discovery of novel promoter cis-elements responsible for tissue-specific and pathogen-inducible transcription, and identified potential transcription factors which bind to these novel cis-elements. Meng’s PhD research findings have been published in two high impact plant research journals.

PhD projects:

 1. Identification of novel pathogen-responsive cis-elements and their binding proteins in promoter of OsWRKY13, a gene regulating rice disease resistance.

 2. A rice promoter containing both novel positive and negative cis-elements for regulating green-tissue-specific gene expression in transgenic plants.

3. Identification of Potential Protein Regulators Bound to the Tissue-Specific Positive and Negative cis-Acting Elements of a Green Tissue-Specific Promoter in Rice.

Meng came to England in 2008 to continue his post-doctoral research, joining Prof Ahmed’s group at the University of Birmingham and moving with him to Edinburgh University, before finally joining the Vascular Research team at Aston in 2012. He has extensive research experience in transcriptional gene regulation in plants, animals and humans, and his findings have been published in numerous high-impact journals. He has also been listed as the main applicant on two Chinese patents relating to his research work.

As the sole Molecular Biologist within the Vascular Aston team, Meng’s expertise is an integral part of the group’s overall research strategy. In addition to conducting his own novel research projects, he makes key contributions to the research of other team members. Meng’s primary research interest is the transcriptional gene regulation in human disease, specifically preeclampsia and IUGR (Intra Uterine Growth Restriction). He is currently focusing on the role of gene regulation in preeclampsia. We hope that Meng’s findings will provide therapeutic targets for the treatment of preeclampsia and facilitate the development of new drugs to treat the condition.

Main Publications:

Dysregulation of the hydrogen sulfide (H2S)-producing enzyme cystathionine γ-lyase (CSE) contributes to maternal hypertension and placental abnormalities in preeclampsia.

Wang K, Ahmad S, Cai M, Rennie J, Fujisawa T, Crispi F, Baily J, Miller MR, Cudmore M, Hadoke PW, Wang R, Gratacós E, Buhimschi IA, Buhimschi CS, Ahmed A. (Circulation. 2013; 127:2514-2522)

Resveratrol inhibits the release of soluble fms-like tyrosine kinase (sFlt-1) from human placenta.

Cudmore MJ, Ramma W, Cai M, Fujisawa T, Ahmad S, Al-Ani B, Ahmed A. (Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2012, 206:253.e10-5)

Heterodimerization of VEGFR-1 (Flt-1) with VEGFR-2 (KDR) regulates endothelial vascular homeostasis and angiogenesis.

Melissa Cudmore, Peter Hewett, Shakil Ahmad, Ke-Qing Wang, Meng Cai, Bahjat Al-Ani, Takeshi Fujisawa, Bin Ma, Samir Sissaoui, Wenda Ramma, Mark R. Miller, David E. Newby, Yuchun Gu, Bernhard Barleon, Herbert Weich, and Asif Ahmed. (Nat Commun. 2012, Jul 24; 3:972)

Loss of Akt activity increases circulating soluble endoglin release in preeclampsia: identification of inter-dependency between Akt-1 and heme oxygenase-1.

Cudmore MJ, Ahmad S, Sissaoui S, Ramma W, Ma B, Fujisawa T, Al-Ani B, Wang K, Cai M, Crispi F, Hewett PW, Gratacós E, Egginton S, Ahmed A. (Eur Heart J. 2012, 33:1150-1158)

WRKY13, a gene mediating the interaction of salicylate- and jasmonate-dependent pathways in rice disease resistance, is regulated by multiple cis– and trans-acting elements.

Meng Cai, Caiguo Xu, Xianghua Li, and Shiping Wang (Plant, Cell & Environment, 31: 86-96, 2008)

A rice promoter containing both novel positive and negative cis-elements for regulating green-tissue-specific gene expression in transgenic plants.

Meng Cai, Jun Wei, Caiguo Xu, Xianghua Li, and Shiping Wang (Plant Biotechnology Journal, 5:664-674, 2007)

Identification of proteins bound to the tissue-specific positive and negative cis-acting elements of a rice green tissue-specific promoter.

Meng Cai, Ting Yuan, Liu Duan, Xianghua Li, Shiping Wang (Plant Biology, 10: 717-777, 2008)

Analysis of rice genes induced by striped stemborer (Chilo suppressalis) attack identified a promoter fragment highly specifically responsive to insect feeding.

Hua H, Lu Q, Cai M, Xu C, Zhou D, Li X, Zhang Q. (Plant Molecular Biology, 2007, 69: 519-530)

The expression pattern of a rice disease resistance gene Xa3/Xa26 is differentially regulated by the genetic backgrounds and developmental stages that influence its function.

Cao Y, Ding X, Cai M, Zhao J, Lin Y, Li X, Xu C, Wang S. (Genetics, 2007, 177: 523-533)

WRKY13 Mediates Rice Disease Resistance by Regulating Defense-related Genes in Salicylate- and Jasmonate-dependent Signaling.

Deyun Qiu, Jun Xiao, Xinhua Ding, Min Xiong, Meng Cai, Yinglong Cao, Xianghua Li, Caiguo Xu, and Shiping Wang (Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions, 20: 492-499, 2007)