Melody Hing Li, PH.D.

Assistant Professor


Research Interests

The Li laboratory studies the mechanisms of host innate immune responses against mosquito-borne alphaviruses. Upon infection, cytosolic sensors in the host cell recognize the incoming virus and stimulate the production of type I interferons (IFNs). The same or neighboring cell binds secreted IFNs and triggers JAK/STAT signaling pathway resulting in the expression of several hundreds of IFN-stimulated genes (ISGs). A main focus of the Li laboratory is to elucidate the mechanism of ZAP, a broad-spectrum antiviral ISG and a member of the poly-ADP-ribose polymerase (PARP) family. Prolonged upregulation of ISGs has been associated with chronic viral infections and autoinflammatory diseases such as Aicardi-Goutières Syndrome. Therefore, understanding the action and regulation of ISG expression has broad implications for public health.


Dr. Li is an Assistant Professor of Microbiology, Immunology and Molecular Genetics at UCLA. She received her Bachelors of Science Degree (B.S.) from University of California, Irvine in 2006 and her Doctor of Philosophy Degree (Ph.D.) in Microbiology from University of Washington, Seattle in 2011. Dr. Li’s thesis work elucidated the functional consequences of polymorphisms in the human APOBEC3H gene, which encodes for a cytosine deaminase that is antiviral against the human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1). Dr. Li subsequently completed her postdoctoral work at Rockefeller University where she studied the antiviral mechanisms and regulation of the host interferon response targeting alphaviruses and flaviviruses. Dr. Li established her own laboratory at UCLA in 2017.


Li Melody M H, Lau Zerlina, Cheung Pamela, Aguilar Eduardo G, Schneider William M, Bozzacco Leonia, Molina Henrik, Buehler Eugen, Takaoka Akinori, Rice Charles M, Felsenfeld Dan P, MacDonald Margaret R TRIM25 Enhances the Antiviral Action of Zinc-Finger Antiviral Protein (ZAP). PLoS pathogens. 2017; 13(1): e1006145.

Li Melody M H, Bozzacco Leonia, Hoffmann Hans-Heinrich, Breton Gaëlle, Loschko Jakob, Xiao Jing W, Monette Sébastien, Rice Charles M, MacDonald Margaret R Interferon regulatory factor 2 protects mice from lethal viral neuroinvasion. The Journal of experimental medicine. 2016; 213(13): 2931-2947.

Wang Xinlu, Li Melody M H, Zhao Jing, Li Shenglan, MacDonald Margaret R, Rice Charles M, Gao Xiang, Gao Guangxia Sindbis Virus Can Exploit a Host Antiviral Protein To Evade Immune Surveillance. Journal of virology. 2016; 90(22): 10247-10258.

Li Melody M H, MacDonald Margaret R Polyamines: Small Molecules with a Big Role in Promoting Virus Infection. Cell host & microbe. 2016; 20(2): 123-4.

Bozzacco Leonia, Yi Zhigang, Andreo Ursula, Conklin Claire R, Li Melody M H, Rice Charles M, MacDonald Margaret R Chaperone-Assisted Protein Folding Is Critical for Yellow Fever Virus NS3/4A Cleavage and Replication. Journal of virology. 2016; 90(6): 3212-28.

Li Melody M H, MacDonald Margaret R, Rice Charles M To translate, or not to translate: viral and host mRNA regulation by interferon-stimulated genes. Trends in cell biology. 2015; 25(6): 320-9.

Charron Guillaume, Li Melody M H, MacDonald Margaret R, Hang Howard C Prenylome profiling reveals S-farnesylation is crucial for membrane targeting and antiviral activity of ZAP long-isoform. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. 2013; 110(27): 11085-90.

Karki Sophiya, Li Melody M H, Schoggins John W, Tian Suyan, Rice Charles M, MacDonald Margaret R Multiple interferon stimulated genes synergize with the zinc finger antiviral protein to mediate anti-alphavirus activity. PloS one. 2012; 7(5): e37398.

Li Melody M H, Emerman Michael Polymorphism in human APOBEC3H affects a phenotype dominant for subcellular localization and antiviral activity. Journal of virology. 2011; 85(16): 8197-207.

Li Melody M H, Wu Lily I, Emerman Michael The range of human APOBEC3H sensitivity to lentiviral Vif proteins. Journal of virology. 2010; 84(1): 88-95.

OhAinle Molly, Kerns Julie A, Li Melody M H, Malik Harmit S, Emerman Michael Antiretroelement activity of APOBEC3H was lost twice in recent human evolution. Cell host & microbe. 2008; 4(3): 249-59.