Office Address: BRB 549 (South Campus)
Tel: (716) 829-2345, Fax: (716) 829-2699
My research is aimed at finding the cause and a cure for Parkinson's disease.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is defined by a characteristic set of locomotor symptoms (rest tremor, rigidity, bradykinesia and postural instability) that are believed to be caused by the selective loss of dopaminergic (DA) neurons in substantia nigra. The persistent difficulties in using animals to model this human disease suggest that human nigral dopaminergic neurons have certain vulnerabilities that are unique to our species.
One of our unique features is the large size of the human brain (1350 grams on average) relative to the body. A single nigral dopaminergic neuron in a rat brain (2 grams) has a massive axon arbor with a total length of 45 centimeters. Assuming that all mammalian species share a similar brain wiring plan, we can estimate (using the cube root of brain weight) that a single human nigral dopaminergic neuron may have an axon with gigantic arborization that totals 4.6 meters.
Another unique feature of our species is our strictly bipedal movement, which is affected by Parkinson's disease, in contrast to the quadrupedal movement of almost all other mammalian species. The much more unstable bipedal movement may require more dopamine, which supports the neural computation necessary for movement.
The landmark discovery of human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) made it possible to generate patient-specific human midbrain dopaminergic neurons to study Parkinson's disease. A key problem for dopaminergic neurons is the duality of dopamine as a signal required for neural computation and a toxin as its oxidation produces free radicals. Our study using iPSC-derived midbrain dopaminergic neurons from PD patients with parkin mutations and normal subjects shows that parkin sustains this necessary duality by maintaining the precision of the signal while suppressing the toxicity. Mutations of parkin cause increased spontaneous release of dopamine and reduced dopamine uptake, thereby disrupting the precision of dopaminergic transmission. On the other hand, transcription of monoamine oxidase is greatly increased when parkin is mutated. This markedly increases dopamine oxidation and oxidative stress. These phenomena have not been seen in parkin knockout mice, suggesting the usefulness of parkin-deficient iPSC-derived midbrain DA neurons as a cellular model for Parkinson's disease.
Currently, we are using iPS cells and induced DA neurons to expand our studies on parkin to idiopathic Parkinson's disease. We are also utilizing the molecular targets identified in our studies to find small-molecule compounds that can mimic the beneficial functions of parkin. The availability of human midbrain DA neurons should significantly speed up the discovery of a cure for Parkinson's disease.
(24) J Feng (2016). Kinetic Barriers in Transdifferentiation. Cell Cycle, in press, DOI: 10.1080/15384101.2016.1151730. [PDF file]
(23) H Jiang, Z Xu, P Zhong, Y Ren, G Liang, HA Schilling, Z Hu, Y Zhang, X Wang, S Chen, Z Yan, J Feng (2015). Cell Cycle and p53 Gate the Direct Conversion of Human Fibroblasts to Dopaminergic Neurons. Nature Communications, 6: 10100. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10100. [PDF file]
(22) Z Xu, H Jiang, P Zhong, Z Yan, S Chen, J Feng (2015). Direct Conversion of Human Fibroblasts to Induced Serotonergic Neurons. Molecular Psychiatry, doi: 10.1038/mp.2015.101. PMID: 26216300. [PDF file]
(21) Z Hu, J Pu, H Jiang, P Zhong, J Qiu, F Li, X Wang, B Zhang, Z Yan, J Feng (2015). Generation of Naivetropic Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells from Parkinson's Disease Patients for High Efficiency Genetic Manipulation and Disease Modeling. Stem Cells and Development. PMID: 26218671. [PDF file]
(20) J Pu, D Frescas, B Zhang, J Feng (2015). Utilization of TALEN and
CRISPR/Cas9 technologies for gene targeting and modification. Experimental
Biology and Medicine (
(19) Y Ren, H Jiang, Z Hu, K Fan, J Wang, S Janoschka, X Wang, S Ge, J Feng (2014). Parkin Mutations Reduce the Complexity of Neuronal Processes in iPSC-derived Human Neurons. Stem Cells, in press, PMID 25332110. [PDF file]
(18) H Jiang, Y Ren, EY Yuen, P Zhong, M Ghaedi, Z Hu, G Azabdaftari, K Nakaso, Z Yan, J Feng (2012).
Parkin Controls Dopamine Utilization in Human Midbrain Dopaminergic Neurons Derived from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells.
(17) Y. Ren, X. Liu, S. Lesage, M. Cai, J. Pu, B. Zhang, A. Brice, J. Feng (2011).
Movement Disorders PMID: 22095769. [PDF file]
(16) Y. Ren, H. Jiang, D. Ma, K. Nakaso, J. Feng (2011).
Parkin Degrades Estrogen Related Receptors to Limit the Expression of Monoamine Oxidases.
Hum. Mol. Genet. 20:1074-1083. [PDF file]
(15) H. Jiang, D. Cheng, W. Liu, J. Peng, J. Feng (2010).
Protein Kinase C Inhibits Autophagy and Phosphorylates LC3.
Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 395:471-476. [PDF file]
(14) Y. Ren, H. Jiang, F. Yang, K. Nakaso, and J. Feng (2009).
Parkin protects dopaminergic neurons against microtubule-depolymerizing toxins by attenuating MAP kinase activation.
J. Biol. Chem. 284:4009-4017. [PDF file]
(13) Q. Jiang, Y. Ren, and J. Feng (2008).
Direct Binding with Histone Deacetylase 6 Mediates the Reversible Recruitment of Parkin to the Centrosome.
J. Neurosci. 28:12993-13002. [PDF file]
(12) Y. Ren and J. Feng (2007).
Rotenone Selectively Kills Serotonergic Neurons through a Microtubule-dependent Mechanism.
J. Neurochem. 103:303-311. [PDF file]
(11) J. Feng (2006).
Microtubule: a Common Target for Parkin and Parkinson's Disease Toxins.
Neuroscientist. 12:469-476. [PDF file]
(10) Q. Jiang, Z. Yan, and J. Feng (2006).
Neurotrophic factors stabilize microtubules and protect against rotenone toxicity on dopaminergic neurons.
J. Biol. Chem. 281:29391-29400. [PDF file]
(9) H. Jiang, Q. Jiang, W. Liu and J. Feng (2006).
Parkin Suppresses the Expression of Monoamine Oxidases.
J. Biol. Chem. 281:8591-8599. [PDF file]
(8) Q. Jiang, Z. Yan, and J. Feng (2006).
Activation of Group III Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors Attenuates Rotenone Toxicity on Dopaminergic Neurons through a Microtubule-dependent Mechanism.
J. Neurosci. 26:4318-4328. [PDF file]
(7) Y. Ren, W. Liu, H. Jiang, Q. Jiang, and J. Feng (2005).
Selective Vulnerability of Dopaminergic Neurons to Microtubule Depolymerization.
(6) F. Yang, Q. Jiang, J. Zhao, Y. Ren, M.D. Sutton and J. Feng (2005).
Parkin Stabilizes Microtubules through Strong Binding Mediated by Three Independent Domains.
J. Biol. Chem. 280:17154-17162. [PDF file]
(5) H. Jiang, Q. Jiang and J. Feng (2004).
Parkin Increases Dopamine Uptake by Enhancing the Cell Surface Expression of Dopamine Transporter.
J. Biol. Chem. 279:54380-54386. [PDF file]
(4) H. Jiang, Y. Ren, J. Zhao and J. Feng (2004).
Parkin protects human dopaminergic neuroblastoma cells against dopamine-induced apoptosis.
Hum. Mol. Genet. 13: 1745-1754. [PDF file]
(3) J. Feng (2003).
Genetic factors in Parkinson's disease and potential therapeutic targets.
Curr. Neuropharmacol. 1: 301-313. [PDF file]
(2) J. Zhao, Y. Ren, Q. Jiang and J. Feng (2003).
Parkin is recruited to the centrosome in response to inhibition of proteasomes.
J. Cell Sci. 116: 4011-4019. [PDF file]
(1) Y. Ren, J. Zhao and J. Feng (2003).
Parkin binds to a/β tubulin and increases their ubiquitination and degradation.
J. Neurosci. 23: 3316-3324. [PDF file]
Ph.D. Biochemistry (1997), research advisor: James N. Ihle, Ph.D.
1986-1990: Nanjing University, Nanjing,
B.Sc. Biochemistry (1990)
Western New York Stem Cell Culture and
2000-Present: Professor (2010-), Associate Professor (2005-2010), Assistant Professor (2000-2005)
Department of Physiology and Biophysics
1997-2000: Postdoctoral Associate
Laboratory of Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience
Research advisor: Paul Greengard, Ph.D.
Top 100 Principle
Visionary Inventor Award,
Promising Inventor Award,
Top 100 Federal Grantee,
Young Investigator Achievement Award, SUNY-Buffalo (5/02).
Theodore and Vada Stanley Foundation Research Award (8/98-7/00).
Ralph R. Braund Young Investigator Award in Cancer
Alma and Hal Reagan Fellowship in Cancer Research,
07/12 - 06/18: Associate Editor (Stem Cell Biology section),
Jian Feng. Entropy illustrates the flexibility of Chinese. Nature 410: 1021 (2001) [PDF file]
Jian Feng. Embryonic Stem Cells: Don't let litigation put research off limits. Nature 467: 271 (2010) [PDF file]
This is the prelecture talk before the Michael J. Fox's Distinguished Speaker Lecture at UB.
Parkinson's Disease Research at UB, introduction to Michael J. Fox's speech at UB.