Faculty Profile

Dr. Young-Hwan Jo, Ph.D.

Young-Hwan Jo, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Medicine (Endocrinology)

Associate Professor, Department of Molecular Pharmacology

Areas of Research: Neurobiology of obesity, Electrophysiological analysis of hypothalamic neurons, Neuronal mapping of feeding-related circuits, Behavioral evaluation of cell type-specific circuit connections using optogenetics

Professional Interests

The overall goal of my research project is to define the role of the central melanocortin system in energy metabolism. Proopiomelanocortin (POMC) neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus (ARC) play a major role in regulating energy intake, energy expenditure, and glucose metabolism. We have demonstrated molecular and neurochemical heterogeneity of POMC neurons in the ARC. We have also demonstrated that distinct subpopulations of POMC neurons directly and indirectly interact in a manner that is critical to the net outcome of the melanocortin signaling and hence determine overall energy balance. In addition to this neurochemical heterogeneity, neuroanatomical studies have revealed that distinct sets of POMC neurons project to different target sites. This neurochemical and neuroanatomical heterogeneity of ARC POMC neurons, combined with their broad functional repertoire, strongly support the idea that there is functional heterogeneity of ARC POMC neurons. We examine whether neurochemically and neuroanatomically distinct subpopulations of POMC neurons have distinct target organs and functions.

In addition, we investigate the role of intracellular glycolysis in nonshivering thermogenesis. Interscapular brown adipose tissue (BAT) is the principal site of nonshivering thermogenesis, resulting from the uncoupling of mitochondrial oxidative respiration from ATP production to generate heat. This uncoupling protein 1 (UCP1)-dependent thermogenesis is fueled mainly by fatty acids from intracellular triglycerides. In addition, we have shown that glucose uptake and glycolysis play a role in BAT thermogenesis. We examine whether glucose metabolism in BAT has an impact on overall energy balance

My laboratory uses multiple cutting-edge techniques such as conditional viral tracing, optogenetics, pharmacogenetics, in vivo calcium imaging, photometry, CRISPR/Cas-9 gene-knockdown, and electrophysiology. 

Selected Publications

Recent Publications (2012- present)

1. Jeong JH, Chang JS, and Jo YH, Intracellular glycolysis in brown adipose tissue is essential for optogenetically induced nonshivering thermogenesis in mice. Scientific Reports. 2018, Apr 27;8(1):6672

2. Jeong JH, Lee DK, Liu S-M,Chua SC Jr.,Schwartz GJ,and Jo YH, Activation of Temperature-sensitive TRPV1-like receptors in ARC POMC neurons reduces food intake. PLOS Biology, 2018, 16 (4):e2004399

3. Liu S, Marcelin G, Blouet C, Jeong JH, Jo YH, Schwartz GJ, Chua S Jr. A gut-brain axis regulating glucose metabolism mediated by bile acids and competitive fibroblast growth factor actions at the hypothalamus. Molelcular metabolism, 2017 Dec S2212-8778(17)30843-8

4. Jae Hoon Jeong, Dong Kun Lee, and Young-Hwan Jo, Cholinergic neurons in the dorsomedial hypothalamus regulates food intake. Molecular metabolism, 2017, Jan 12;6(3):306-312 

5. Jeong J.H., Woo Y.J., Chua S.C., and Jo Y.H. Single-cell gene expression analysis of cholinergic neurons in the arcuate nucleus of the hypothalamus. PLOS One (2016) Sep 9;11(9):e0162839. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0162839

6. Jeong J.H., Lee DK, Blouet C, Ruiz H.H., Buettner C, Chua S.C., Schwartz G.J., and Jo Y.H. Cholinergic neurons in the dorsomedial hypothalamus regulate mouse brown adipose tissue metabolism. Molecular metabolism, 2015, 11;4(6):483-92  

7. Lee D.K., Jeong J.H., Chun S.]K., Chua S.C. Jr. and Jo Y.H*  Interplay between glucose and leptin signaling determines the strength of GABAergic synapses at POMC neurons. Nature Commun26;6:6618. doi: 10.1038/ncomms7618 (2015)

8. Lee DK, Jeong JH, Oh SH and Jo YH* Apelin]13 enhances arcuate POMC neuron activity via inhibiting M]current. PLOS One, Mar 17;10(3):e0119457 (2015)

9. Marcelin G, Jo YH, Li X, Schwartz GJ, Zhang Y, Dun NJ, Lyu RM, Blouet C, Chang JK, Chua SC, Central action of FGF19 reduces hypothalamic AGRP/NPY neuron activity and improves glucose metabolism. Molecular Metabolism, 23; 3(1):19]28 (2013)

10.  Byun K, Gil SY, Youn BS, Huang H,  Namkoong C, Jang PG, Lee JY, Jo YH, Kang GM, Kim HK, Shin MS,  Pietrzik  CU,  Lee B,    Kim YB,    Kim MS,   Clusterin  (ApoJ)  and  LRP2  are  critical components of the central leptin signaling pathway. Nature Comm. 4:1862 (2013) 

11. Groessl F, Jeong JH, Talmage DA, Role LW and Jo YH, Overnight fasting regulates inhibitory tone to cholinergic neurons of the dorsomedial nucleus of the hypothalamus. PLOS One, Vol. 8 (4), e60828 (2013)

12. Lu, Z , Marcelin G, Bauzon M, Wang H, Fu H, Dun SL, Zhao H, Li X, Jo YH, Wardlaw S, Dun N, Chua, S Jr.,and Zhu L., pRb is an obesity suppressor in hypothalamus and high]fat diet inhibits pRb in this location. EMBO, 32(6):844]57 (2013)

13. Blouet, C., Lui, SM, Jo, YH, Li, X. and Schwartz, G., TXNIP in Agrp Neurons Regulates Adiposity, Energy Expenditure, and Central Leptin Sensitivity. J. NeurosciJul 18;32(29):9870]9877 (2012)

14. Israel, DD, Sheffer]Babila, S, de Luca, C, Jo, YH, Liu, SM, Xia, Q, Spergel, D, Dun, SK, Dun, NJ and Chua, SC, Effects of leptin and melanocortin signaling on pubertal development and reproduction. Endocrinology, May; 153(5):2408]19 (2012) 

15. Jo, YH, Endogenous BDNF regulates inhibitory synaptic transmission in the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus. J. Neurophysiol. Jan; 107: 42]49 (2012)

REVIEWS AND CHAPTERS

1. Jo, YH and Chua S.C., The Brain–Liver Connection Between BDNF and Glucose Control. Diabetes, Vol 62: 1367]1368 (2013)

2. Jo, YH and Buettner, C., Why leptin keeps you warm. Molecular metabolism, Oct 1; 3(8):779]80 (2014)

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Research Information

In the News

Forbes features research by Dr. Young-Hwan Jo suggesting why exercise that raises the body’s temperature can result in a temporary loss of appetite.

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