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Yue-Qiao Huang, Ph.D.

Adjunct Assistant Professor
Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy
Drexel University College of Medicine
2900 Queen Lane
Philadelphia, PA 19129


Molecular and cellular biology of synaptic plasticity

Research Interests

Research Summary

Dr. Huang's lab is interested in the mechanisms that modulate the communication between neurons in the central nervous system. The general approach is to study the molecular mechanisms that regulate neurotransmitter receptors that mediate the response to neurotransmitters released at synapses. Currently the lab focuses the efforts on the regulation of the glutamate receptors, the major excitatory receptors in the brain. N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, one of the most important glutamate receptor systems in the brain, play critical roles in learning and memory, development of the brain, and neurological disorders. Studies from this lab and from others have demonstrated that phosphorylation of glutamate receptors is a major mechanism for the control of their function and is critical for the regulation of synaptic communication. Moreover, Dr. Huang's studies on the trafficking of the NMDA receptors have shown that receptor internalization may be a significant way of modulation of the synaptic plasticity.

Current research projects include (1) cell signaling mechanisms for neurotransmission and plasticity, especially in long-term potentiation; (2) cell signaling in dendritic remodeling; and (3) trafficking of NMDA receptors. Dr. Huang's research group uses a combination of state-of-the-art biochemical, cell biological, imaging, and electrophysiological approaches to address the questions of interest. As the glutamate receptors are critically important in brain disorders, Dr. Huang's studies have significant implications that extend to a broad range of physiological and pathological processes in the central nervous system, including brain and spinal cord injury, epilepsy, chronic pain, stroke, Alzheimer disease, and other types of neurodegeneration. For example, it is now known that under-stimulation of certain receptors, such as glutamate receptors, may lead to decreased communication between neurons and may cause diseases such as Alzheimer's; in contrast over-stimulation of the glutamate receptors may cause neuronal death in stroke or CNS injury. Therefore, it is expected that augmenting the function and /or number of receptors in the brains of Alzheimer's patients, may enhance learning and memory; whereas decreasing the function or numbers of receptors could protect the neurons from death following a stroke or CNS injury.


Dr. Yue-Qiao Huang received his B.Sc. degree from Wuhan University in China and his Ph.D. degree from Iowa State University. He did his postdoctoral training with Dr. Michael W. Salter at the Program in Brain and Behavior in The Hospital for Sick Children/ Department of Physiology, University of Toronto in Canada. He is now an Adjunct Assistant Professor in the Department of Neurobiology and Anatomy at Drexel University College of Medicine.

Selected Publications

  1. Hu, J. , Liu, G., Li, Y., Gao, W.J. and Huang, Y.Q., (2010) Dopamine D1 receptor-mediated NMDA receptor insertion  depends on Fyn but not Src kinase pathway in prefrontal cortical  neuron. Molecular Brain  2010, 3:20.
  2. Li, YC., Liu, G., Hu, J. Gao, W.J. and Huang, Y.Q., (2010) Dopamine D1 Receptor-mediated Enhancement of NMDA Receptor Trafficking Requires Rapid PKC-dependent Synaptic Insertion in the Prefrontal Neurons.  Journal of Neurochemistry.   114: 62–73.
  3. Li, Y.,  Xi, D., Roman, J., Huang, Y.Q. and Gao, W.J.,  (2009) Activation of GSK-3beta is Required for Hyperdopamine and D2 Receptor Mediated Inhibition of Synaptic NMDA Receptor Function in the Rat Prefrontal Cortex. Journal of  Neurosci. 29:15551-63.
  4. Kollins, K.M., Hu, J., Bridgman, P.C., Huang, Y-Q, and Gallo, G.. (2009) Myosin-II Negatively Regulates minor process extension and the temporal development of neuronal polarity.  Developmental Neurobiology  69, 279-98.
  5. Nong, Y., Huang, Y.Q., and Salter, M.W. (2004) NMDA receptors are movin' in. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 14, 353-361 pdf
  6. Gingrich, J.R., Pelkey, K.A., Fam, S., Huang, Y.Q. , Petralia, R.S., Wenthold, R.J., and Salter, M.W. (2004) Unique domain anchoring of Src to synaptic NMDA receptors via the mitochondrial protein NADH dehydrogenase subunit 2. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA. 101, 6237-6242.pdf
  7. Nong, Y.*, Huang, Y.Q.*, Ju, W.*, Kalia, L.V., Ahmadian,R., Wang, Y.T. and Salter, M.W. (2003) Glycine binding primes NMDA receptors internalization. Nature 422, 302-307 (*Co-first authors).pdf
  8. Huang, Y.Q., Lu, W., Ali, D.W., Pelkey, K.A., Pitcher, G.M., Lu, Y.M., Aoto, H., Roder, J.C., Sasaki, T., Salter, M.W., MacDonald, J.F. (2001) CAKbeta/Pyk2 kinase is a signaling link for induction of long-term potentiation in CA1 hippocampus. Neuron. 29(2): 485-96.pdf