Functional Genetics and Metabolism Laboratory

Dr. Kim’s research program focuses on genetic and metabolic regulation of heart development, function and disease, with emphasis on obesity, diabetes and heart failure.

First, we are interested in the molecular function and mechanism of Iroquois (Irx) transcription factors in the heart, which are not only implicated in organ development, but also in energy homeostasis regulation. We are currently investigating the individual and overlapping functions of Irx proteins in development and disease of cardiac conduction system and ventricular chambers.

Second, we are investigating metabolism of the heart and its communications with other core metabolic tissues/organs (e.g. adipose tissue and liver).

Using genetically engineered mice as our principal models, we integrate physiology with molecular and systems biology approaches to address the fundamental questions in heart function and diseases.

The laboratory is funded by the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the J. P. Bickell Foundation, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation.

  • The function and molecular mechanism of Irx3 in the ventricular conduction system programming in the developing and diseased heart.
  • Transcriptional and non-transcriptional functions of Irx5 in the diseased heart.
  • The overlapping function of Irx3/4 during ventricular compaction process of the heart.
  • Developmental role of Irx1 in the electrophysiological properties of the atrioventricular conduction system.
  • Metabolic flexibility and responses of the heart to maintain its functions during nutritional and metabolic challenges.

See current publications list at PubMed.

Selected publications:

  • Kim JE, Fei L, Yin WC, Coquenlorge S, Rao-Bhatia A, Zhang X, Shi SSW, Lee JH, Hahn NA, Rizvi W, Kim KH, Sung HK, Hui CC, Guo G, Kim TH. (2020) Single cell and genetic analyses reveal conserved populations and signaling mechanisms of gastrointestinal stromal niches. Nature Communications. Jan 17;11(1):334.
  • Kim RY, Lee JH, Oh Y, Sung HK, Kim KH. (2019) Assessment of the Metabolic Effects of Isocaloric 2:1 Intermittent Fasting in Mice. J Vis Exp. 2019 Nov 27;(153). doi: 10.3791/60174.
  • Kim YH, Lee JH, Yeung JL, Das E, Kim RY, Jiang Y, Moon JH, Jeong H, Thakkar N, Son JE, Trzaskalski N, Hui CC, Doh KO, Mulvihill EE, Kim JR, Kim KH#, Sung HK#. (2019) Thermogenesis-independent metabolic benefits conferred by isocaloric intermittent fasting in ob/ob mice. Scientific Reports. 21;9(1):2479 (#, co-corresponding authors)
  • Kim KH*, Kim YH*, Moon JH, Son JE, Kim S, Choe MS, Zhong J, Lee JH, Fu K, Lenglin F, Park JG, Bilan PJ, Klip A, Nagy A, JR Kim, Hussein SM, Doh KO, Hui CC, Sung HK. (2017) Intermittent fasting Promotes Metabolic Improvement and Adipose Thermogenesis via VEGF-mediated Alternative Activation of Adipose Macrophage. Cell Research. 27(11):1309-1326 (*, co-first authors)
  • Kim KH*, Rosen A*, Hussain SM, Puviindran V, Korogyi AS, Chiarello C, Nagy A, Hui CC, Backx PH. (2016) Irx3 is required for Postnatal Development of the Mouse Ventricular Conduction System. Scientific Reports. 6, 19197; doi: 10.1038/srep19197. (*, co-first authors)
  • Claussnitzer M, Dankel SN*, Kim KH*, Quon G, Meuleman W, Haugen C, Glunk V, Sousa IS, Beaudry JL, Puviindran V, Abdennur NA, Liu J, Svensson PA, Hsu YH, Drucker DJ, Mellgren G, Hui CC, Hauner H, Kellis M (2015) Causal FTO Obesity Variant Circuitry and Adipocyte Browning in Humans (2015) N Eng J Med. 373(10):895-907 (*, equal contribution)
  • Smemo S*, Tena JJ*, Kim KH*, Gamazon ER, Sakabe NJ, Gómez-Marín C, Aneas I, Credidio FL, Sobreira DR, Wasserman NF, Lee JH, Puviindran V, Tam D, Shen M, Son JE, Vakili NA, Sung HK, Naranjo S, Acemel RD, Manzanares M, Nagy A, Cox NJ, Hui CC, Gomez-Skarmeta JL, Nobrega MA (2014) Obesity-associated variants within FTO form long-range functional connections with IRX3. Nature. 507(7492):371-5. (*, co-first authors)
  • Kim KH, Rosen A, Bruneau BG, Hui CC, Backx PH (2011) Iroquois Transcription Factors in Heart Development and Function. Circulation Research 110, 1513-1524
  • Zhang SS*, Kim KH*, Rosen A*, Smyth JW*, Sakuma R*, Delgado-Olguín P, Davis M, Chi NC, Puviindran V, Gaborit N, Sukonnik T, Wylie JN, Brand-Arzamendi K, Farman GP, Kim J, Rose RA, Marsden PA, Zhu Y, Zhou YQ, Miquerol L, Henkelman RM, Stainier DY, Shaw RM, Hui CC, Bruneau BG, Backx PH (2011) Iroquois homeobox gene 3 establishes fast conduction in the cardiac His-Purkinje network. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 108, 13576-81.

Current team members:

  • Ri Youn Kim, MSc, PhD, postdoctoral fellow.
  • Yena Oh, MSc, PhD candidate.
  • Shaza Asif, MSc candidate.
  • Saif Dababneh, honours project student.
  • Woosol Yoo, undergraduate student.
Positions Available 

To enquire about available positions, please submit your CV with a cover letter detailing what you can bring to the team.


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