Xu Yu

Xu Yu, MD

Principal Investigator

Core Member

Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard

Associate Professor of Medicine

Harvard Medical School

Physician Investigator

Massachusetts General Hospital


(857) 268-7004

400TS 1023

Dendritic Cells and Elite Controllers

Research Overview

The Yu lab studies HIV viruses in diverse groups of participants to investigate possible ways in which the immune system can recognize and combat HIV infection. We study specific types of disease response, like those found in “elite controllers,” people whose immune systems can handle prolonged HIV infection. The lab also looks at how certain innate immune responses, targeting a broad spectrum of pathogens, can be trained to support other immune responses to HIV.

The Yu lab combines basic science immunology with clinical and translational perspectives for improving clinical treatment options for viral infectious disease. Recently, we investigated the proviral reservoirs of “elite controllers,” HIV-1 infected individuals capable of drug-free control of HIV-1 replication despite the presence of a replication-competent viral reservoir. Our research includes the role of dendritic cells and their immunoregulatory functions for generating and fine-tuning adaptive immune responses during HIV-1 infection.  Additionally, we analyze immunological networks associated with immune control of HIV-1 and Zika virus using systems biology-based approaches.

Recognition and Media

Xu Yu is an elected member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation (ASCI), inducted in 2021. She received both the Claflin Distinguished Scholar Award and the Stephen Krane Excellence in Research Award for her work at Massachusetts General Hospital. She has also received the Clinical Scientist Development Award from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation.


Xu Yu received an MD from China Medical University in Shenyang, China, and completed postdoctoral training in the AIDS Research Center at MGH.

Selected Publications

Circulating CXCR5+CXCR3+PD-1Lo Tfh-like cells in HIV-1 controllers with neutralizing antibody

Martin-Gayo E, Cronin J, Hickman T, Ouyang Z, Lindqvist M, Kolb KE, Schulze zur Wiesch J, Cubas R, Porichis F, Shalek A, van Lunzen J, Haddad E, Walker BD, Kaufmann D, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG.

JCI Insight.2017; 2(2):e89574

Host factors enabling ZIKA virus replication in dendritic cells from individuals with Zika virus infection

Sun X, Hua S, Chen HR, Ouyang Z, Einkauf K, Tse S, Ard K, Ciaranello A, Yawetz S, Sax P, Rosenberg ES, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG.

Cell Rep. 2017 Dec 19;21(12):3471-3482

A Reproducibility-Based Computational Framework Identifies An Inducible Enhanced Antiviral Dendritic Cell State In HIV-1 Elite Controllers

Martin-Gayo E, Cole MB, Kolb KE, Ouyang Z, Cronin J, Kazer SW, Ordovas-Montanes J, Lichterfeld M, Walker BD, Yosef N, Shalek AK, Yu XG

Genome Biology. 2018 Jan 29;19(1):10

Pegylated IFN-α induces NK cell-dependent HIV-1 DNA decline in ART-treated HIV-1/HCV co-infected patients

Hua S, Vigano S, Tse S, Harrington S, Negron J, Garcia-Broncano P, Resino S, Leal M, Ruiz-Mateos E, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG.

Clin Infect Dis. 2018 Jun 1;66(12):1910-1917

Metabolic pathway activation distinguishes transcriptional signatures of CD8 T cells from HIV-1 elite controllers

Chowdhury FZ, Ouyang Z, Buzon M, Walker BD, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG.

AIDS, 2018. Nov 28;32(18):2669-2677

Immunological fingerprints of controllers developing neutralizing HIV-1 antibodies

Martin-Gayo E, Gao Ce, Chen XR, Ouyang Z, Kim D, Kolb KE, Shalek AK, Walker BD, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG*

Cell Reports. 2020. Jan 28;30(4):984-996.e4.

Immune-profiling of ZIKV-infected patients identifies a distinct function of plasmacytoid dendritic cells for immune cross-regulation

Sun X, Hua S, Gao C, Blackmer J, Ouyang Z, Ard K, Ciaranello A, Yawetz S, Sax PE, Rosenberg ES, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG*.

Nat Comms. 2020. May 15;11(1):2421. doi: 10.1038/s41467-020-16217-5

Distinct viral reservoirs in individuals with spontaneous control of HIV-1

Jiang C, Lian L, Gao C, Sun X, Einkauf K, Chevalier JM, Chen S, Hua S, Rhee B, Chang K, Blackmer JE, Osborn M, Peluso MJ, Hoh R, Somsouk M, Milush J, Bertagnolli LN, Sweet S, Varriale J, Burbelo PD, Chun TW, Laird GM, Serrao E, Engelman AN, Carrington M, Siliciano RF, Siliciano J, Deeks SG, Walker BD, Lichterfeld M, Yu XG.

Nature 2020. Aug 26. doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2651-8

Lab Team

Benjamin Bone

Research Fellow

María del Carmen Gasca Capote

Graduate Student

Leah Carrere

Research Technician I

Ce Gao

BioInformatics Specialist I

Gregory Gladkov

Research Technician I

Ciputra Hartana

Research Fellow

Alex Hochroth

Research Technician I

Seohyun Hong

Research Technician I

Catherine Koofhethile

Research Fellow

Melanie Lancien

Research Fellow

Zach Manickas-Hill

Lab Manager

Aischa Niesar

Graduate Student

Matthew Osborn

Research Technician II

Ben Rhee

Undergraduate Student

Isabelle Roseto

Research Technician I

Wei Wei Sun

Research Fellow

Toong Seng Tan

Postdoctoral Fellow

Marie Armani Tourret

Research Fellow

Liliana Vela

Research Technician I

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