Sun Lei

Associate Professor


Contact: 66013021


Dr SUN Lei is an Associate Professor in the Program of Cardiovascular and Metabolic Disorders, Duke-NUS Medical School. He received his B.S degree from Beijing University in 2001 and Ph.D in Biochemistry from Case Western University in 2008.  From 2008 to 2012, he underwent postdoctoral training in the lab of Harvey Lodish at the Whitehead Institute in Boston, MA. In 2012, he was awarded an NRF fellowship award in Singapore and joined the faculty at Duke-NUS. His research focuses on the RNA-regulatory network governing the development and function of major metabolic organs such as adipose and liver at various physiological and pathological conditions. The work from his lab has been published in scientific journals such as Cell Metabolism, Nature Metabolism, Nature communication, PLOS Biology and Diabetes.


Modern sedentary lifestyle and consumption of calorie-dense food are precipitating a rapid growing population of metabolic diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and heart diseases. It is predicted, for the first time, that the current generation will have a shorter life-span than previous one. Understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying these metabolic diseases is urgently needed for us to prevent them or develop novel therapeutic strategies. Our studies are revealing a sophisticated RNA-regulatory network governing the development and function of major metabolic organs such as adipose and liver at various physiological and pathological conditions. We aim to determine the role of RNA regulatory network and how these RNA components crosstalk with the more well-understood protein network in the context of metabolic diseases. Our research topics encompass the regulation and function of non-coding RNAs such as microRNAs and lncRNAs, RNA processing such as splicing and editing, and RNA binding proteins.

1. Zhou QZ, et al. Sun L#. Deciphering the decline of metabolic elasticity in aging and obesity. 2023, Cell Metabolism. Accepted

2. Xu D, Sun L#. HOTAIR underlies the region-specific development of adipose tissue. 2022, Nat Rev Endocrinology (PMID: 36131101)

3. Zhou QZ et al. Qiang L#, Sun L#. A landscape of murine long non-coding RNAs reveal the leading transcriptome alterations in adipose tissue during aging. 2020,  Cell Reports, (PMID: 32460027)

4. Zhou Q, Fu Z, Gong Y, Seshachalam VP, Li J, Ma Y, Liang H, Guan W, Lin S, Ghosh S, Sun L#, Zhou H. Metabolic Health Status Contributes to Transcriptome Alternation in Human Visceral Adipose Tissue During Obesity. 2020, Obesity. (PMID: 32985130)

5. Xu D, Sun L#. A functional non-conserved lncRNA in human adipose tissue. 2020, Nature Metabolism, (PMID: 32694664)

6. Siang DT et al. Sun L#, Xu D#. The RNA-binding protein HuR is a negative regulator in adipogenesis. 2020, Nature Communication, (PMID: 31924774)

7. Guo X et al. Sun L#, Li X#. cAMP-MicroRNA-203-IFNγ network regulates subcutaneous white fat browning and glucose tolerance. 2019, Molecular Metabolism, (PMID: 31327757)

8. Arcinas C et al. Sun L#. Adipose circular RNAs exhibit dynamic regulation in obesity and functional role in adipogenesis. 2019, Nature Metabolism, (PMID: 32694641), DOI: 10.1038/s42255-019-0078-z

9. Sun L#, Lin JD#. The function and mechanism of long non-coding RNAs in adipocyte biology. 2019, Diabetes (PMID: 31010880)

10. Ding CM et al. Sun L#. De novo reconstruction of human adipose transcriptome reveals conserved lncRNAs as regulators of brown adipogenesis. 2018, Nature Communication (PMID: 29626186)

11. Lo K et al., Sun L#. Adipocyte long noncoding RNA transcriptome analysis of obese mice identified Lnc-leptin which regulates Leptin. 2018, Diabetes (PMID: 29519872)

12. Xu D et al., Sun L#. RNA binding protein, Ybx2, regulates RNA stability during cold-induced brown fat activation. 2017, Diabetes (PMID: 28970281)

13. Bai Z et al., Sun L#. Dynamic transcriptome changes during adipose tissue energy expenditure reveal critical roles for long noncoding RNA regulators. 2017, PLOS BIOLOGY (PMID: 28763438).

14. Lim Y et al., Sun L#. Dynamic DNA methylation landscape defines brown and white cell specificity during adipogenesis. 2016, Molecular Metabolism (PMID: 27689016)

15. Alvarez-Dominguez J et al., Sun L#. De novo Reconstruction of Adipose Tissue Transcriptomes Reveals Novel Long Non-coding RNAs that Regulate Brown Adipocyte Development. 2015, Cell Metabolism (PMID: 25921091)

16. Knoll M, Lodish HF, Sun L#. Long non-coding RNAs as regulators of the endocrine system. 2015, Nat Rev Endocrinology (PMID: 25560704) Review

17. Kim H et al., Sun L#. MicroRNAs are required for the feature maintenance and differentiation of brown adipocytes. 2014, Diabetes (PMID: 25008181)