Rong Shao

Photograph of First Last

Adjunct Research Associate Professor

Contact Info

Phone: 413-545-1705
Office: 428 Morrill Science Center


M.D., Shanghai Second Medical University, 1985
M.S., Shanghai Second Medical University, 1988
Ph.D., Philadelphia College of Pharmacy and Science, 1996


Instructor, Department of Pharmacology, Shanghai Second Medical University, August, 1988 - August, 1990
Research Associate, Liver Center Lab, Duke University Medical Center, February, 1997 - August, 2000
Research Associate, Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, August, 2000 - December, 2003

Research Interests

Tumor Angiogenesis

Tumor angiogenesis, the new vasculature formation from pre-existing blood vessels, is a fundamental process required for tumor growth, and is initially triggered by elevated angiogenic factors that are mainly derived from tumor cells and tumor stroma cells. We recently have found that a secreted glycoprotein named YKL-40 has the ability to promote tumor vascular endothelial cell angiogenesis; thus promoting tumor progression and metastasis. Elevated YKL-40 may serve as a biomarker for the diagnosis and prognosis of breast cancer. A neutralizing anti-YKL-40 antibody can block tumor development and angiogenesis, suggestive of therapeutic means for inhibition of advanced cancers. In addition, we are interested in tumor cell-associated vascularization known as vasculogenic mimicry (VM), an alternative vascularization that is appreciated to play an important role in tumor development and progression of glioblastoma, one of the extremely aggressive and poorest prognostic brain tumors. Glioblastoma stem-like cells (GSCs) are found to participate in VM via transdifferentiation into vascular pericytes/smooth muscle cells. Identification of key molecules and their mechanisms that regulate tumor angiogenesis and VM will offer immense value for cancer diagnosis, prognosis, and therapy.

Representative Publications

R. Shao, S. Taylor, D. Oh, and L. Schwartz. Vascular heterogeneity and targeting: role of YKL-40 in glioblastoma vascularization. Oncotarget 6: 40507-40518, 2015.

R. Francescone, N. Ngernyuang, W. Yan, B. Bentley, and R. Shao. Tumor-derived mural-like cells coordinate with endothelial cells: role of YKL-40 in mural cell-mediated angiogenesis. Oncogene 33: 2100-2122, 2014.

N. Ngernyuang, R. Francescone, P. Jearanikoon, J. Daduang, A. Supoken, W. Yan, R. Shao and T. Limpaiboon. Chitinase 3 like 1 (YKL-40) is associated with tumor angiogenesis in cervical cancer. Int. J. Biochem. Cell Bio. 51:45-52, 2014.

R. Shao, R. Francescone, N. Ngernyuang, B. Bentley, S. Taylor, L. Moral, and W. Yan. Anti-YKL-40 antibody and ionizing irradiation synergistically inhibit tumor vascularization and malignancy in glioblastoma. Carcinogenesis 35:373-382, 2014.

R. Shao. YKL-40 acts as an angiogenic factor to promote tumor angiogenesis. Front. Physiol. 4: 122, 1-9, 2013.

S. Scully, R. Francescone, M. Faibish, B. Bentley, S. L. Taylor, D. Oh, R. Schapiro, L. Moral, W. Yan, and R. Shao. Transdifferentiation of glioblastoma stem-like cells into mural cells drives vasculogenic mimicry in glioblastomas. J. Neurosci. 32: 12950-12960, 2012.

A. Bourdiec, R. Shao, C.V. Rao, and A. Akoum. Human chorionic gonadotropin triggers angiogenesis via the modulation of endometrial stromal cell responsiveness to interleukin 1: a new possible mechanism underlying embryo implantation. Biol. Reprod. 87 (3) 66: 1-10, 2012.

R. Francescone, S. Scully, B. Bentley, W. Yan, S. Taylor, D. Oh, L. Moral, and R. Shao. Glioblastoma-derived tumor cells induce vasculogenic mimicry through Flk-1 activation. J. Biol. Chem. 287: 24821-24831, 2012.

R. Shao. YKL-40: a potential biomarker and therapeutic target for breast cancer diagnosis. Br. J. Med. Med. Res. 2:358-372, 2012. Review.

R. Shao. Unveiling new potential. International Innovation. 14:114-116, 2012.

R. Shao, S. Scully, W. Yan, B. Bentley, J. Mueller, C. Brown, C. Bigelow, and L. Schwartz. The novel lupus antigen protein Acheron enhances the development of human breast cancer. Inter. J. Cancer 130: 544-554, 2012.

S. Scully, W. Yan, B. Bentley, Q.J. Cao, and R. Shao. Inhibitory activity of YKL-40 in mammary epithelial cell differentiation and polarization induced by lactogenic hormones: a role in mammary tissue involution. PLoS ONE 6: e25819, 2011.

R. Shao, Q.J. Cao, R. B. Arenas, C. Bigelow, B. Bentley, and W. Yan. Breast cancer expression of YKL-40 correlates with tumor grade, poor differentiation and other cancer markers. Br. J. Cancer 105: 1203-1209, 2011.

R. Francescone, M. Faibish, and R. Shao. A Matrigel-based tube formation assay to assess the vasculogenic activity of tumor cells. J. Vis. Exp. 55: 3040, 2011.

R. Francescone, S. Scully, M. Faibish, S. Taylor, D. Oh, L. Moral, W. Yan, B. Bentley, and R. Shao. The role of YKL-40 in the angiogenesis, radioresistance, and progression of glioblastoma. J. Biol. Chem. 286: 15332-15343, 2011.

M. Faibish, R. Francescone, B. Bentley, W. Yan, and R. Shao. A YKL-40 neutralizing antibody blocks tumor angiogenesis and progression: a potential therapeutic agent in cancers. Mol. Cancer Ther. 10: 742-751, 2011.

W. Yan, J. Cao, R. Arenas, B. Bentley, and R. Shao. GATA3 inhibits breast cancer metastasis through the reversal of epithelial-mesenchymal transition. J. Biol. Chem. 285: 14042-14051, 2010.

R. Shao, K. Hamel, L. Petersen, J. Cao, R. B. Arenas, C. Bigelow, B. Bentley, and W. Yan. YKL-40, a secreted glycoprotein, promotes tumor angiogenesis. Oncogene 28: 4456-4468, 2009.

P. Apopa, Y. Qian, R. Shao, N. Guo, D. Schwegler-Berry, M. Pacurari, D. Porter, X. Shi, V. Vallyathan, V. Castranova, and D. Flynn. Iron oxide nanoparticles induce human microvascular endothelial cell permeability through reactive oxygen species production and microtubule remodeling. Particle Fibre Toxicol. 6: 1-14, 2009.

W. Yan, B. Bentley and R. Shao. Distinct angiogenic mediators are required for bFGF and VEGF-induced angiogenesis: the role of cytoplasmic tyrosine kinase c-Abl in tumor angiogenesis. Mol. Biol. Cell 19: 2278-2288, 2008.

A. Khimji, R. Shao and D. C. Rockey. Divergent Transforming Growth Factor-β Signaling in Hepatic Stellate Cells after Liver Injury. Am. J. Pathol. 173: 716-727, 2008.

W. Yan and R. Shao. Transduction of a mesenchyme-specific gene periostin into 293T cells induces cell invasive activity through epithelial-mesenchymal transformation. J. Biol. Chem. 281: 19700-19708, 2006.