Research Projects
Application of miR-125a-3p, b-catenin interacting protein 1 (CTNNBIP1), and Wnt-signaling molecules for predicting embryo implantation in IVF treatment (HMRF)

Programme(s) to which this project applies:

☑ MPhil/PhD ☒ MRes[Med] ☒ URIS

Dysregulated expression of microRNAs is associated with human embryo implantation defects. Our preliminary data suggested that embryo-derived human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) stimulates the expression of miR-125a-3p, which downregulates CTNNBIP1 and activates the Wnt-signaling pathway through b-catenin expression in endometrial epithelial cells for embryo implantation. Importantly, endometrial biopsies taken from recurrent implantation failure (RIF) or non-RIF patients showed differential expressions of miR-125a-3p, and staining of CTNNBIP1 and b-catenin proteins, suggesting their potential diagnostic value for pregnancy outcome prediction.

We hypothesize that the receptivity of endometrial epithelial cells is regulated by embryo-derived hCG-induced miR-125a-3p, which in turn modulates Wnt-signaling molecules important for embryo implantation. We further hypothesize that miR-125a-3p, CTNNBIP1, and b-catenin levels can predict embryo implantation in RIF and in vitro fertilization (IVF) patients. In this study, we aim to study the regulation of miR-125a-3p, CTNNBIP1, and b-catenin in endometrial cells and investigate their roles in endometrial receptivity and spheroid attachment. Results from the immunohistochemical staining and miRNA expression will be correlated to pregnancy outcomes between RIF and non-RIF samples. Results from this study should allow us to understand the role of hCG on miRNA-mediated signaling pathways and hence on endometrial receptivity, and open a new area to explore the use of miRNA and Wnt-signaling molecules to predict pregnancy outcomes in IVF and RIF patients.

Professor CKF Lee, Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology

Professor Lee got his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the Chinese University of Hong Kong and trained in postdoctoral training at Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA. He joined the Department of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at The University of Hong Kong as a Research Assistant Professor in 1998 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2008. He was Past-President of the Hong Kong Society for Reproductive Medicine, and the Hong Kong Society of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Reproduction. He has published more than 90 original articles in international journals with an H index of 32 (total citation >3000). His students have obtained many international and local awards including ‘The Best Poster Award of Society for the Study of Reproduction (SSR) – Southeast Asia Region’.

Google Scholar
HKU Scholars Hub
Lab Homepage

For more information or to express interest for this project, please email the supervisor or the specified contact point in the project description.  Interested candidates are advised to enclose with your email:

  1. your CV,
  2. a brief description of your research interest and experience, and
  3. two reference letters (not required for HKUMed UG students seeking MRes[Med]/URIS projects).

Information on the research programme, funding support and admission documentations could be referenced online at the Research Postgraduate Admissions website. General admission enquiries should be directed to

HKUMed MBBS students interested in the Master of Research in Medicine (MRes[Med]) programme may visit the programme website for more information.  

HKUMed UG students interested in the Undergraduate Research Internship Scheme (URIS) may visit the scheme’s website for more information.