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Teaching Staff

Professor YUEN, Karen Wing Yee

Professor YUEN, Karen Wing Yee

Associate Professor, School of Biological Sciences, Faculty of Science, HKU

BSc (Hons) (Simon Fraser University); PhD (University of British Columbia); Post-doctoral training (University of California, San Diego / Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research)

  • 3917 3848
  • 2858 3477
  • KBSB 4S15


Teaching Areas

  • BIOL1110       From Molecules to Cells
  • BIOL 3401      Molecular Biology (Course Coordinator)
  • BIOL 4415      Healthcare Biotechnology
  • BIOL 4416      Stem Cells and Regenerative Biology (Course Coordinator)
  • BIOL3409       Business Aspects of Biotechnology


Research Interests

Every cell must replicate and segregate their genome faithfully during each cell cycle. Errors in chromosome segregation during mitosis or meiosis can result in chromosome gain or loss (aneuploidy) and chromosome instability (CIN), which may lead to cancer progression, spontaneous abortion or birth defects, such as Down syndrome. Understanding the cellular mechanisms that ensure accurate chromosome segregation is fundamentally important and medically relevant. The underlying mechanism can also be applied to the development of artificial chromosome technology for gene therapy purpose and biotechnology applications.

Currently, we are using Caenorhabditis elegans and Saccharomyces cerevisiae as model organisms to understand these fundamental processes in the cell cycle. We utilize cell biology, imaging, transgenics, genome editing, genomics, proteomics, biochemical, and single-cell approaches to address these questions.

  • Aneuploidy and Chromosome Instability (CIN)
  • Cell Division and Chromosome Segregation
  • Cell Cycle

Current Research

  • Centromere Establishment and Propagation (e.g. Histone chaperone functions in centromeric nucleosome)
  • Epigenetic regulation on Centromere (e.g. histone modifications, non-coding RNA and transcription)
  • Artificial Chromosomes
  • Sister Chromatin Cohesion
  • Anoxia-induced Suspended Animation and Recovery

Research Team

Postdoctoral fellow, Dr. LING Ying Hin

Ph.D. candidate, WANG Yue Eric

Ph.D. candidate, ZHU Jing Phyllis

Ph.D. candidate, ZHU Zhenni Jenny

M. Phil candidate, MAK Ka Ho Jason

Research Assistant, Dr. WONG Yan Yu Charmaine

Research Assistant, Dr. LIN Zhongyang William

Technician: MAK, Abby


  • Hong Kong Croucher Foundation Post-Doctoral Fellowship (tenured at Dr. Arshad Desai Lab, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research / Department of Cellular & Molecular Medicine, University of California, San Diego, USA)
  • National Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) Postgraduate Scholarships A & B (tenured at Dr. Phil Hieter Lab, Department of Medical Genetics / Michael Smith Laboratories, University of British Columbia, Canada)
  • University of British Columbia Graduate Fellowship

Publications and News

  • Zhu J*, Cheng K* and Yuen KWY^. Histone H3K9 and H4 Acetylations and Transcription Facilitate the Initial CENP-AHCP−3 Deposition and De Novo Centromere Establishment in Caenorhabditis elegansArtificial Chromosomes. Epigenetics and Chromatin. 2018. 16:11. doi: 10.1186/s13072-018-0185-1. Pubmed AbstractFull Text. ​​
  • Zhang W, Yeung CHL, Wu L and Yuen KWY^. Bre1 is Required for Sister Chromatid Cohesion Establishment in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. eLife. 2017. 6. pii: e28231. doi: 10.7554/eLife.28231.Pubmed Abstract. Full Text.
  • ​Fung RSK, Jin B, He M, Yuen KWY and Wong AOL^. Grass Carp Follisatin: Molecular cloning, Functional characterization, Dopamine D1 regulation at Pituitary level, and implication in growth hormone regulation. Frontiers in Endocrinology. 2017. doi: 10.3389/fendo.2017.00211. Pubmed Abstract. Full Text. 
  • Fung RSK, Bai J, Yuen KWY, Wong AOL^. Activin/follistatin system in grass carp pituitary cells: - Regulation by local release of growth hormone and luteinizing hormone and its functional role in growth hormone synthesis and secretion. PLoS One. 2017. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0179789. Pubmed AbstractFull Text.
  • Lai K, Li J, Chan C, Chan T, Yuen K, Chiu J. Transcriptiomic alterations in Daphnia magna embryos from mothers exposed to hypoxia. Aquatic Toxicology. 177:454-463. Pubmed AbstractFull Text.
  • Lee B.C.H., Lin Z and Yuen K.W.Y.^. RbAp46/48LIN-53 is Required for Holocentromere Assembly in Caenorhabditis elegans. Cell Reports. 2016. 14:1819-1828. doi: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.01.065. Pubmed AbstractFull TextPDF.

Cell Reports Facebook Highlight

Han X.B., Yuen K.W.Y. and Wu S.S. Polybrominated diphenyl ethers affect the reproduction and development, and alter the sex ratio of zebrafish (Danio rerio). Environmental Pollution. 2013. 182:120-6. doi: 10.1016/j.envpol.2013.06.045. Pubmed AbstractFull Text.

Gassmann R*, Rechtsteiner A*, Yuen K*, Muroyama A, Monen J, Barron F, Maddox P, Monen J, Egelhofer T, Ercan S, Oegema K, Lieb J, Strome S, and Desai A. An Inverse Relationship to Germline Transcription Defines the C. elegans Holocentromere in Progeny. Nature. 2012. 484(7395):534-7. doi:10.1038/nature10973. Pubmed AbstractFull Text.

F1000 Prime Article Recommendation.

Yuen K, Nabesima K, Oegema K, and Desai A. Rapid De Novo Centromere Formation Occurs Independently of Heterochromatin Protein 1 in C. elegans Embryos. Current Biology. 2011. 21(21):1800-7. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2011.09.016. Pubmed AbstractFull Text.

Ben-Aryoa S, Agmon N, Yuen K, Kwok T, McManus K, Kupiec M, and Hieter P. Proteasome Nuclear Activity Affects Chromosome Stability by Controlling the Turnover of DNA Repair Proteins. PLoS Genetics. 2010. 6(2):e1000852. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1000852. Pubmed AbstractFull TextPDF.

Barber T*, McManus K*, Yuen K*, Reis M, Parmigiani G, Shen D, Barrett I, Nouhi Y, Spencer F, Markowitz S, Velculescu V, Kinzler K, Vogelstein B, Lengauer C, and Hieter P. Chromatid Cohesion Defects may Underlie Chromosome Instability in Human Colorectal Cancers. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2008. 105(9):3443-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0712384105. Pubmed AbstractFull Text.

Yuen K*, Warren C*, Chen O, Kwok T, Hieter P, and Spencer F. Systematic Genome Instability Screens in Yeast and their Potential Relevance to Cancer. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2007. 104(10):3925-3930. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0610642104. Pubmed AbstractFull Text.

Measday V*, Baetz K*, Guzzo J, Yuen K, Kwok T, Sheikh B, Ding H, Ueta R, Hoac T, Cheng B, Pot I, Tong A, Yamaguchi-Iwai Y, Boone C, Hieter P, and Andrews B. Systematic Yeast Synthetic Lethal and Synthetic Dosage Lethal Screens Identify Genes Required for Chromosome Segregation. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005. 102(39):13956-61. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0503504102. Pubmed AbstractFull Text.


Yuen K. Chromosome Instability (CIN), Aneuploidy and Cancer. Encyclopedia of Life Sciences. 2010.  doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0022413. Abstract.​

​Yuen K, and Desai A. The Wages of CIN. Journal of Cell Biology. 2008. 180(4):661-3. doi: 10.1083/jcb.200801030. Pubmed AbstractFull Text.

​​Yuen K*, Montpetit B*, and Hieter P. The kinetochore and cancer: what's the connection? Current Opinion in Cell Biology. 2005. 17(6):576-82. doi:10.1016/ Pubmed AbstractFull Text.


  • Congratulations to Miss Zhu Jing for receiving GRC Carl Storm International Diversity Award, to Gordon Research Conference on Centromere Biology, West Dover, USA (2018)
  • Congratulations to Miss Wong Yan Yu for receiving The 8th Asia Pacific C. elegans Meeting Travel Grant Award, Seoul, South Korea (2018)
  • Congratulations to Miss Wong Yan Yu for receiving EMBO Travel Bursary, to EMBO Dynamic Kinetochore Workshop, Edinburgh, UK (2017)
  • Congratulations to Miss Wong Yan Yu for receiving the Graduate Student Travel Scholarship supported by Tigris Educational Fund for Gordon conference on Centromere Biology, West Dover, VT, USA (2016)
  • Congratulations to Miss Anjana Kulasekara for awarding Excellence in Summer Research Fellowship Poster Presentation in the Faculty of Science, HKU (2012)

Awards and Honours

Selected Awards:

  • 2016 Second Prize for the Best Research Output, Strategic Research Theme – Development and Reproduction, HKU (for Cell Reports. 2016. 14:1819-1828)
  • 2012 Early Career Award, Research Grant Council (RGC) of Hong Kong
  • Simon Fraser University Chemistry / Biochemistry Award

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