- Associate Professor, Departments of Neurology & Neuroscience
- (608) 263-2469
Ph.D. Harvard University
Neural and vascular development and disease of the cerebral cortex
My lab is interested in the molecular mechanisms of several aspects of the development of the cerebral cortex, including cortical neuron migration and positioning as well as neural regulation of blood vessel development. We are also interested in diseases where these processes are affected.
Cortical neuron migration and laminar assembly
To investigate mechanisms underlying laminar organization of the cortex, we focus on the question of how the generation and migration of neurons and glia are regulated and coordinated. We employ mouse genetics approaches and use tissue specific gene knockout technology to answer this question. Among the genes of interest to us is ric-8a, a gene involved in G protein coupled receptor (GPCR) signaling. We have found that mutation in this gene results in cobblestone lissencephaly-like malformation in the cerebral cortex as well as lobule formation defects in the cerebellum. One of our goals is to use this mutation as an entry point to gain new insights into how cell-cell communication coordinates the process of brain development.
Blood vessel development in the brain
To understand how blood vessel development in the brain is regulated, we focus on interactions between neural and vascular cells. Specifically, we have found that radial glia, neural progenitor cells in the developing brain, play an unexpected role in regulating the stabilization of nascent blood vessels. In the absence of radial glia, newly formed blood vessels in the cortex become destabilized and eventually undergo regression. One of our goals is to determine the identity of the signal(s) involved as well as the vascular genes regulated by radial glia. We are also interested in whether and how these genes may be involved in and contribute to brain neurovascular diseases.
- Ma, S., Kwon, H. J., Johng, H, Zang, K, and, Huang, Z. (2013). Radial glia neural progenitors regulate nascent brain vascular network stabilization via inhibition of Wnt signaling. PLoS Biology 11(1): e1001469. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001469
- Ma, S., Kwon, H.J., Huang, Z. (2012). A functional requirement for astroglia in promoting blood vessel development in the early postnatal brain. PLoS One 7(10): e48001. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0048001
- Ma, S., Kwon, H.J., Huang, Z. (2012). Ric-8a, a guanine nucleotide exchange factor in GPCR signaling, regulates Bergmann glia-basement membrane adhesion during cerebellar foliation. The Journal of Neuroscience 32 (43): 14979 –14993.
- Kwon, H.J., Ma, S., and Huang, Z. (2011) Radial glia regulate Cajla-Retzius cell positioning in the early embryonic cerebral cortex. Developmental Biology 351: 25-34. [Epub ahead of print] 2010 Dec 23.
- Huang, Z. (2009) Molecular regulation of neuronal migration during neocortical development. Molecular Cellular Neuroscience 42(1):11-22. Epub 2009 Jun 10.
- Huang, Z, Shimazu, K., Woo, N.H., Zang, K., Müller, U., Lu, B., and Reichardt, L.F. (2006). Distinct roles of the beta 1-class integrins at the developing and the mature hippocampal excitatory synapse. The Journal of Neuroscience 26 (43): 11208-11219.
- Huang, Z., Zang, K., and Reichardt, L.F. (2005). The origin recognition core complex regulates dendrite and dendritic spine development in postmitotic neurons. The Journal of Cell Biology 170 (4): 527-535.
- Graus-Porta, D., Blaess, S., Senften, M., Littlewood-Evans, A., Damsky, C., Huang, Z., Orban, P., Klein, R., Schittny, J.C., and Müller, U. (2001). Beta 1-class integrins regulate the development of laminae and folia in the cerebral and cerebellar cortex. Neuron 31(3): 367-79.
- Huang, Z., Shilo, B-Z., and Kunes, S. (1998). A retinal axon fascicle uses Spitz, an EGF receptor ligand, to construct a synaptic cartridge in the brain of Drosophila. Cell 95 (5): 693–703.
- Huang, Z. and Kunes, S. (1998). Signals transmitted along retinal axons in Drosophila: Hedgehog signal reception and the cell circuitry of lamina cartridge assembly. Development 125 (19), 3753-3764.
- Huang, Z. and Kunes, S. (1996). Hedgehog, transmitted along retinal axons, triggers neurogenesis in the developing visual centers of the Drosophila brain. Cell 86 (3): 411-422.