Regulation of synaptic transmission by neuropeptides in health and disease


Zhiping Pang, Rutgers University

November 1, 2023 @ 04:00 pm to 05:00 pm

108 Wartik Laboratory
University Park


Brain function relies on information flow from one neuron to another, a process that primarily takes place in specialized structures called synapses. To relay information across these junctions, neurons release neurotransmitters that can be organized into two major groups: classical neurotransmitters (e.g., glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)) and non-classical neurotransmitters (e.g., neuropeptides and monoamines). We are interested in understanding how synaptic transmission is modulated by the peptidergic hormones as well as the molecular mechanism of neuropeptide release. In this talk, I will summarize our understanding of neuropeptide Glucagon-like peptide 1 (GLP-1) in the brain. Using mouse genetics, viral-mediated neural tracing, optogenetics, chemogenetics, and behavioral assays, we uncovered that, in mice, endogenously released GLP-1 in the paraventricular hypothalamic nucleus (PVN) suppresses feeding via enhanced excitatory synaptic transmission; in the dorsomedial hypothalamic nucleus, regulates blood glucose levels; and also regulates metabolism in the hypothalamus-brain stem descending pathway. These results suggest that cell-type and pathway-specific regulation must be considered to understand the functions of neuromodulation. The results of these studies advance our conceptual understanding of the regulatory effects of endogenous GLP-1, facilitating the development of neuropeptide-targeting clinical interventions for eating disorders and obesity.

About the Speaker:

Dr. Zhiping Pang received his Ph.D. at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas before moving to Stanford at Palo Alto to complete a postdoc training. Both his Ph.D. and postdoctoral training were under the tutelage of Dr. Thomas Südhof, the 2013 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine. He focused on elucidating the molecular mechanism of Ca2+-triggered synaptic vesicle release and elucidated the functions of essential proteins at synapses. In 2010, together with Marius Wernig's group, he developed novel procedures to directly convert human skin fibroblasts into functional neurons. In November 2011, he moved to Rutgers University in New Jersey to start his independent research, and he is a tenured Full Professor in the Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology. Research in his laboratory focuses on studying synaptic modulation in the mammalian system. Using mouse models, his laboratory focuses on understanding neuropeptides' molecular, cellular, synaptic, and circuit function in the central nervous system in health and disease such as obesity and eating disorders. Using human induced pluripotent stem cells derived neural models, his research focuses on delineating the synaptic mechanism underlying mental disorders such as schizophrenia, autism, and bipolar disorders. He is also keen to develop novel technologies in untangling the molecular mechanism of synaptic transmission, including neuropeptide release and signaling.


Yingwei Mao