Kai Wang, PhD

Principal Scientist

Dr. Kai Wang is currently a principal scientist at Institute for Systems Biology, where he began in 2007 as a senior research scientist. He received his PhD in biochemistry from Oregon State University. He began his career in 1987 at Caltech as a research fellow in the Division of Biology. In 1992, he became the acting assistant professor in the Department of Molecular Biotechnology, but left in 1995 to serve as a senior scientist and project leader for Darwin Molecular Corp/Celltech Group PLC. In 2001, he co-founded PhenoGenomics, serving as its president until he joined the Institute. His awards include first place in the psoriasis category of the 2012 Diagnostics Signature Challenge (sponsored by Philip Morris International and IBM Research), and a Northwest Cancer Partners award for the “development of a novel tubulin binding anticancer compound” in 2004. He received the Diplomate, General Toxicology certification from the American Board of Toxicology – a highly competitive certification program. He is the board director of The Chinese Institute of Engineers/USA-Seattle Chapter, as well as a national council member, a 100 year old non-profit organization.

Dr. Wang’s research interest at ISB is studying the function, trafficking and application of extracellular RNAs, including RNAs of both endogenous and exogenous origins. He and his co-workers were one of the first groups to discover stable microRNAs in the extracellular environment, and found that they are packaged in lipid vesicles as well as complexed with proteins to escape RNase degradation. Using the next generation sequencing platforms, they made a significant discovery on the complexity of end region sequence length heterogeneity for microRNAs, which may significantly increase the repertoire of microRNAs. They have conducted a comprehensive survey of circulating RNAs through sequencing and observed a significant amount of exogenous RNAs in plasma and other body fluids. Like microRNA, some of the exogenous RNAs are packaged in lipid vesicles. The group’s studies also revealed that cells in culture may pick up exogenous RNAs, incorporate them onto the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), and affect the transcriptome of the cells. These findings raise the possibility that plasma RNAs of exogenous origin may be involved in human-environmental interactions, and may affect and/or indicate the state of human health. In addition to microRNA, his research also revealed a complex spectrum of large RNA including protein coding RNAs in the extracellular space, most of these RNAs are packaged in lipid vesicles.  This may suggest the RNAs, both small and large RNAs in lipid vesicles may participate in cell-cell communication.

PhD, Biochemistry, Oregon State University, 1987

Biochemistry, molecular biology

Brewster, J. L., S. L. Martin, J. Toms, D. Goss, K. Wang, K. Zachrone, A. Davis, G. Carlson, L. Hood, and J. D. Coffin. 2000. “Deletion of Dad1 in Mice Induces an Apoptosis-Associated Embryonic Death.” Genesis 26 (4): 271–78. Cite
Gan, L., I. Lee, R. Smith, R. Argonza-Barrett, H. Lei, J. McCuaig, P. Moss, B. Paeper, and K. Wang. 2000. “Sequencing and Expression Analysis of the Serine Protease Gene Cluster Located in Chromosome 19q13 Region.” Gene 257 (1): 119–30. Cite
Wang, K., L. Gan, T. Kunisada, I. Lee, H. Yamagishi, and L. Hood. 2001. “Characterization of the Japanese Pufferfish (Takifugu Rubripes) T-Cell Receptor Alpha Locus Reveals a Unique Genomic Organization.” Immunogenetics 53 (1): 31–42. Cite
Glusman, G., L. Rowen, I. Lee, C. Boysen, J. Roach, A. Smit, K. Wang, B. F. Koop, and L. Hood. 2001. “Comparative Genomics of the Human and Mouse T Cell Receptor Loci.” Immunity 15 (3): 337–49. Cite
Rowen, L., E. Williams, G. Glusman, E. Linardopoulou, C. Friedman, M. E. Ahearn, J. Seto, et al. 2005. “Interchromosomal Segmental Duplications Explain the Unusual Structure of PRSS3, the Gene for an Inhibitor-Resistant Trypsinogen.” Mol Biol Evol 22 (8): 1712–20. Cite
Wang, K., S. Zhang, J. Weber, D. Baxter, and D. J. Galas. 2009. “Mammalian Cells in Culture Actively Export Specific MicroRNAs.” Nature Precedings, hdl:10101/npre.2009.3718.1. Cite
Wang, K., S. Zhang, B. Marzolf, P. Troisch, A. Brightman, Z. Hu, L. E. Hood, and D. J. Galas. 2009. “Circulating MicroRNAs, Potential Biomarkers for Drug-Induced Liver Injury.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106 (11): 4402–7. Cite
Wang, K., I. Lee, G. Carlson, L. Hood, and D. J. Galas. 2010. “Systems Biology and the Discovery of Diagnostic Biomarkers.” Dis Markers 28 (4): 199–207. Cite
Glusman, G., B. Marzolf, K. Wang, J.-H. Cho, B. Kutlu, and Q. Tian. 2010. “Bioinformatics Strategies for Understanding Gene Expression in Human Pluripotent Cells.” In Human Stem Cell Technology and Biology: A Research Guide and Laboratory Manual. Wiley-Blackwell. Cite
Sipova, H., S. Zhang, A. M. Dudley, D. J. Galas, K. Wang, and J. Homola. 2010. “Surface Plasmon Resonance Biosensor for Rapid Label-Free Detection of Microribonucleic Acid at Subfemtomole Level.” Anal Chem 82 (24): 10110–15. Cite
Wang, K., S. Zhang, J. Weber, D. Baxter, and D. J. Galas. 2010. “Export of MicroRNAs and MicroRNA-Protective Protein by Mammalian Cells.” Nucleic Acids Res, July. Cite
Lee, L. W., S. Zhang, A. Etheridge, L. Ma, D. Martin, D. J. Galas, and K. Wang. 2010. “Complexity of the MicroRNA Repertoire Revealed by Next-Generation Sequencing.” RNA 16 (11): 2170–80. Cite
Weber, J. A., D. H. Baxter, S. Zhang, D. Y. Huang, K. How Huang, M. Jen Lee, D. J. Galas, and K. Wang. 2010. “The MicroRNA Spectrum in 12 Body Fluids.” Clin Chem 56 (11): 1733–41. Cite
Cho, J. H., R. Gelinas, K. Wang, A. Etheridge, M. G. Piper, K. Batte, D. Dakhallah, et al. 2011. “Systems Biology of Interstitial Lung Diseases: Integration of MRNA and MicroRNA Expression Changes.” BMC Med Genomics 4 (1): 8. Cite
Etheridge, A., I. Lee, L. Hood, D. Galas, and K. Wang. 2011. “Extracellular MicroRNA: A New Source of Biomarkers.” Mutat Res, March. Cite
Moussay, E., K. Wang, J. H. Cho, K. van Moer, S. Pierson, J. Paggetti, P. V. Nazarov, et al. 2011. “MicroRNA as Biomarkers and Regulators in B-Cell Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia.” Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 108 (16): 6573–78. Cite
Vencio, E. F., L. E. Pascal, L. S. Page, G. Denyer, A. J. Wang, H. Ruohola-Baker, S. Zhang, K. Wang, D. J. Galas, and A. Y. Liu. 2011. “Embryonal Carcinoma Cell Induction of MiRNA and MRNA Changes in Co-Cultured Prostate Stromal Fibromuscular Cells.” J Cell Physiol 226 (6): 1479–88. Cite
Cho, J. H., K. Wang, and D. J. Galas. 2011. “An Integrative Approach to Inferring Biologically Meaningful Gene Modules.” BMC Systems Biology 5 (1): 117. Cite
Wang, K., H. Li, Y. Yuan, A. Etheridge, Y. Zhou, D. Huang, P. Wilmes, and D. Galas. 2012. “The Complex Exogenous RNA Spectra in Human Plasma: An Interface with Human Gut Biota?” PloS One 7 (12): e51009. Cite
Wang, K., Y. Yuan, J. H. Cho, S. McClarty, D. Baxter, and D. J. Galas. 2012. “Comparing the MicroRNA Spectrum between Serum and Plasma.” PloS One 7 (7): e41561. Cite
Ezzie, M. E., M. Crawford, J. H. Cho, R. Orellana, S. Zhang, R. Gelinas, K. Batte, et al. 2012. “Gene Expression Networks in COPD: MicroRNA and MRNA Regulation.” Thorax 67 (2): 122–31. Cite
Chen, L. Y., K. C. Wei, A. C. Huang, K. Wang, C. Y. Huang, D. Yi, C. Y. Tang, D. J. Galas, and L. E. Hood. 2012. “RNASEQR–a Streamlined and Accurate RNA-Seq Sequence Analysis Program.” Nucleic Acids Research 40 (6): e42. Cite
Lee, M. J., J. H. Cho, D. J. Galas, and K. Wang. 2012. “The Systems Biology of Neurofibromatosis Type 1–Critical Roles for MicroRNA.” Experimental Neurology 235 (2): 464–68. Cite
Argyropoulos, C., K. Wang, S. McClarty, D. Huang, J. Bernardo, D. Ellis, T. Orchard, D. Galas, and J. Johnson. 2013. “Urinary MicroRNA Profiling in the Nephropathy of Type 1 Diabetes.” PloS One 8 (1): e54662. Cite
Gomes, C. P., J. H. Cho, L. Hood, O. L. Franco, R. W. Pereira, and K. Wang. 2013. “A Review of Computational Tools in MicroRNA Discovery.” Front Genet 4: 81. Cite
Walters, K. A., R. Olsufka, R. E. Kuestner, J. H. Cho, H. Li, G. A. Zornetzer, K. Wang, S. J. Skerrett, and A. Ozinsky. 2013. “Francisella Tularensis Subsp. Tularensis Induces a Unique Pulmonary Inflammatory Response: Role of Bacterial Gene Expression in Temporal Regulation of Host Defense Responses.” PLoS One 8 (5): e62412. Cite
Zhou, Y., S. Qin, and K. Wang. 2013. “Biomarkers of Drug-Induced Liver Injury.” Current Biomarker Findings 2013 (3): 1–9. Cite
Wang, K., Y. Yuan, H. Li, J. H. Cho, D. Huang, L. Gray, S. Qin, and D. J. Galas. 2013. “The Spectrum of Circulating RNA: A Window into Systems Toxicology.” Toxicol Sci 132 (2): 478–92. Cite
Chevillet, J. R., I. Lee, H. A. Briggs, Y. He, and K. Wang. 2014. “Issues and Prospects of MicroRNA-Based Biomarkers in Blood and Other Body Fluids.” Molecules 19 (5): 6080–6105. Cite
Cho, J. H., I. Lee, R. Hammamieh, K. Wang, D. Baxter, K. Scherler, A. Etheridge, et al. 2014. “Molecular Evidence of Stress-Induced Acute Heart Injury in a Mouse Model Simulating Posttraumatic Stress Disorder.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 111 (8): 3188–93. Cite
Cary, G. A., S. H. Yoon, C. Garmendia Torres, K. Wang, M. Hays, C. Ludlow, D. R. Goodlett, and A. M. Dudley. 2014. “Identification and Characterization of a Drug-Sensitive Strain Enables Puromycin-Based Translational Assays in Saccharomyces Cerevisiae.” Yeast 31 (5): 167–78. Cite
Walters, K. A., R. Olsufka, R. E. Kuestner, X. Wu, K. Wang, S. J. Skerrett, and A. Ozinsky. 2015. “Prior Infection with Type A Francisella Tularensis Antagonizes the Pulmonary Transcriptional Response to an Aerosolized Toll-like Receptor 4 Agonist.” BMC Genomics 16: 874. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12864-015-2022-2. Cite
Argyropoulos, C., K. Wang, J. Bernardo, D. Ellis, T. Orchard, D. Galas, and J. P. Johnson. 2015. “Urinary MicroRNA Profiling Predicts the Development of Microalbuminuria in Patients with Type 1 Diabetes.” Journal of Clinical Medicine 4: 1498–1517. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm4071498. Cite
He, Y., J. R. Chevillet, G. Liu, T. K. Kim, and K. Wang. 2015. “The Effects of MicroRNA on the Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Excretion of Drugs.” Br J Pharmacol 172 (June): 2733–47. https://doi.org/10.1111/bph.12968. Cite
He, Y., J. Lin, D. Kong, M. Huang, C. Xu, T. K. Kim, A. Etheridge, Y. Luo, Y. Ding, and K. Wang. 2015. “Current State of Circulating MicroRNAs as Cancer Biomarkers.” Clinical Chemistry 61 (September): 1138–55. https://doi.org/10.1373/clinchem.2015.241190. Cite