Yuan He

Yuan He

Associate Professor



Yuan He

Position Title

Associate Professor


Yuan He, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology for the Wayne State University School of Medicine. Dr. He earned his Ph.D. in Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2011. His postdoctoral training was in the laboratory of Dr. Gabriel Núñez in the Department of Pathology and Immunology Program at the University of Michigan. Dr. He joined the faculty of Wayne State University School of Medicine in 2017. His research focus is on innate immunity. Dr. He is a recipient of NIH R01 Award (May 2020-April 2025) and Research Career Development Award K22 (July 2017-July 2019).


1998 B. S., Biology, Nanchang University, Jiangxi, China
2011 Ph.D., Cell and Developmental Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, USA
2011-2017 Postdoc, Immunology, University of Michigan, MI, USA


Accepting new MS students in 2024: Yes (IM, BMB)
Accepting new PhD students in 2024: Yes (IM, BMB)

Links of Interest


Office Location

7215 Scott Hall


Dr. He is interested in signaling pathways regulating innate immunity and the pathogenesis of inflammatory disease.

Research Focus

Dr. He’s current research focus is on the NLRP3 inflammasome, one of several NLR inflammasomes that induce the maturation of the inflammatory cytokines interleukin (IL)-1β and IL-18 through activation of caspase-1. The NLRP3 inflammasome mediates host immune responses to diverse microbial and endogenous danger signals for restoration of homeostasis after infections and cellular perturbations. However, dysregulation of the NLRP3 inflammasome has also been implicated in a wide variety of disease pathologies, underscoring the need to understand its regulation. Despite extensive investigation, the molecular mechanism of NLRP3 inflammasome activation remains elusive. Dr. He’s immediate research goal is to understand the function and regulatory mechanism of NLRP3 inflammasome activation during innate immune responses. Dr. He’s long-term goal is to elucidate the function and regulation of NLRs during inflammation and host defense, and to translate those findings into novel treatments for infectious and inflammatory diseases.


  • Duan Y, Wang J, Cai J, Kelley N, He Y. The leucine-rich repeat (LRR) domain of NLRP3 is required for NLRP3 inflammasome activation in macrophages. J Biol Chem. 2022 Nov. 17 (DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jbc.2022.102717).
  • Jeltema D, Wang J, Cai J, Kelley N, Yang Z, He Y. A Single Amino Acid Residue Defines the Difference in NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation between NEK7 and NEK6. J Immunol. 2022 Apr 15;208(8):2029-2036.
  • Kelley N, He, Y. Assessment of NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation and NLRP3-NEK7 Complex. Methods in Molecular Biology. Springer Nature; 2022 (In Press).
  • Duan Y. , Zhang L. , Angosto-Bazarra D. , Pelegrín P., Núñez G , He Y. RACK1 Mediates NLRP3 Inflammasome Activation by Promoting NLRP3 Active Conformation and Inflammasome Assembly. Cell Rep. 2020 Nov 17;33(7):108405.
  • Duan, Y, Kelley, N, and He, Y. Role of the NLRP3 inflammasome in neurodegenerative diseases and therapeutic implications. Neural Regen Res. 2020 Jul; 15(7): 1249–1250.
  • Kelley, N.; Jeltema, D.; Duan, Y.; He, Y. The NLRP3 Inflammasome: An Overview of Mechanisms of Activation and Regulation. Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2019, 20, 3328.
  • He Y., Hara H., and Núñez G. Mechanism and regulation of NLRP3 inflammasome activation. Trends Biochem Sci. 2016 41 (12): 1012-1021.
  • He Y., Zeng M., Y., Yang D., Motro B., and Núñez G. Nek7 is an essential mediator of NLRP3 activation downstream of potassium efflux. Nature. 2016 Feb 18; 530(7590):354-7
  • Yang D., He Y., Muñoz-Planillo R., Liu Q. and Núñez G. Caspase-11 Requires the Pannexin-1 Channel and the Purinergic P2X7 Pore to Mediate Pyroptosis and Endotoxic Shock. Immunity. 2015 43(5) 923–932.
  • Suzuki S, Franchi L, He Y, Munoz-Planillo R, Mimuro H, et al.. ShigellaType III Secretion Protein MxiI Is Recognized by Naip2 to Induce Nlrc4 Inflammasome Activation Independently of Pkcd. PLoS Pathog 2014 10(2): e1003926. doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1003926
  • Byrne M., Kimura Y., Kapoor A., He Y., Mattam K., Hasan K., Olson L., Wang F., Kenis P., Rao C.V. Oscillatory Behavior of Neutrophils Under Opposing Chemoattractant Gradients Supports a Winner-Take-All Mechanism. PLoS One., 2014 Jan 21;9(1):e85726
  • He Y, Varadarajan S, Muñoz-Planillo R, Burberry A, Nakamura Y and Núñez G. 3,4-Methylenedioxy-β-nitrostyrene inhibits NLRP3 inflammasome activation by blocking assembly of the inflammasome. J Biol Chem. 2014 Jan 10;289(2):1142-50.
  • He, Y., Li, D., Cook, S., Yoon, M., Kapoor, A., Rao, C. V., Kenis, P., Chen, J. and Wang, F. Mammalian Target of Rapamycin and Rictor control neutrophil chemotaxis by regulating Rac/Cdc42 activity and actin polymerization. Mol Biol Cell. 2013 Nov;24(21):3369-80. 
  • He, Y., Franchi, L., Núñez, G. The Protein Kinase PKR is Critical for LPS-Induced iNOS Production, but Dispensable for Inflammasome Activation in Macrophages. Eur J Immunol. 2013 May;43(5):1147-52.
  • He, Y., Franchi, L., Núñez, G. TLR Agonists Stimulate Nlrp3-Dependent IL-1β Production Independently of the Purinergic P2X7 Receptor in Dendritic Cells and In Vivo. J Immunol. 2013 Jan 1;190 (1):334-9.
  • He, Y., Kapoor, A., Cook, S., Liu, S., Xiang, Y., Rao, C. V., Kenis, P., and Wang, F. The non-receptor tyrosine kinase Lyn controls neutrophil adhesion by recruiting the CrkL/C3G complex to and activating Rap1 at the leading edge. J Cell Science, 2011 124, 2153-2164.
  • Shin, M.E., He, Y., Li, D., Chowdhury, F., Collin, O., Na, S., Pei, S., de Lanerolle, P., Schwartz, M.A., Wang, N., and Wang, F. Spatiotemporal organization, regulation and functions of tractions during neutrophil chemotaxis. Blood, 2010 116, 3297-310.

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