Z. Josh Huang
Ph.D., Brandeis University, 1994
We study the developmental assembly and functional organization of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex that process information and guide behavior. We combine molecular, anatomical and physiological approaches, with the entry point from a systematic identification of neuronal cell types using genetically engineered mice. Our study has implications in understanding neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.
Josh Huang and colleagues study the assembly and function of neural circuits in the neocortex of the mouse. The neocortex consists of a constellation of functional areas that form a representational map of the external (sensory, social) and internal (visceral, emotional) world. These areas are strategically interconnected into elaborate information processing networks that guide behavior. The group’s overarching hypothesis is that, at the cellular level, cortical processing streams and output channels are mediated by a large set of distinct glutamatergic pyramidal neuron types, and functional neural ensembles are regulated by a diverse set of GABAergic interneuron types. Understanding cortical circuit organization requires comprehensive knowledge of these basic cellular components. The Huang lab uses state-of-the-art genetic approaches to systematically target cell types and facilitate the application of a full set of modern techniques for exploring cortical circuits. Among GABAergic interneurons, the chandelier cell is one of the most distinctive cell type that controls pyramidal neuron firing at the axon initial segment. Huang and colleagues are studying the developmental specification, activity-dependent circuit integration, and functional connectivity of chandelier cells, an entry point towards understanding a local circuit module. Regarding pyramidal neurons, they are systematically characterizing the developmental origin, axon projection pattern, and input connectivity of multiple classes of pyramidal neuron types, focusing on the forelimb motor cortex. They combine a range of approaches that include genetic and viral engineering, genetic fate mapping, gene expression profiling, cellular imaging, electrophysiology, and behavior analysis. Recently, they begin to integrate their studies in the context of the motor cortex control of forelimb movements.
Taniguchi, H. and Lu, J. and Huang, Z. J. (2013) The spatial and temporal origin of chandelier cells in mouse neocortex. Science 339(6115) pp. 70-4.
He, M. and Liu, Y. and Wang, X. and Zhang, M. Q. and Hannon, G. J. and Huang, Z. J. (2012) Cell-Type-Based Analysis of MicroRNA Profiles in the Mouse Brain. Neuron 73(1) pp. 35-48.
Taniguchi, H. and He, M. and Wu, P. and Kim, S. and Paik, R. and Sugino, K. and Kvitsani, D. and Fu, Y. and Lu, J. and Lin, Y. and Miyoshi, G. and Shima, Y. and Fishell, G. and Nelson, S. B. and Huang, Z. J. (2011) A Resource of Cre Driver Lines for Genetic Targeting of GABAergic Neurons in Cerebral Cortex. Neuron 71(6) pp. 995-1013.
Di Cristo, G. and Chattopadhyaya, B. and Kuhlman, S. J. and Fu, Y. and Belanger, M-C. and Wu, C. Z. and Rutishauser, U. and Maffei, L. and Huang, Z. J. (2007) Activity-dependent PSA expression regulates inhibitory maturation and onset of critical period plasticity. Nat Neurosci 10(12) pp. 1569-1577.
Ango, F. and di Cristo, G. and Higashiyama, H. and Bennett, V. and Wu, P. and Huang, Z. J. (2004) Ankyrin-based subcellular gradient of neurofascin, an immunoglobulin family protein, directs GABAergic innervation at purkinje axon initial segment. Cell 119(2) pp. 257-72.Additional materials of the author at
CSHL Institutional Repository
Scientists solve birth and migration mysteries of cortex’s powerful inhibitors, ‘chandelier’ cells
GABA signaling prunes back copious ‘provisional’ synapses during neural circuit assembly
CSHL team creates genetic ‘GPS’ system to comprehensively locate and track inhibitory nerve cells
Neuroscientists at CSHL show in unprecedented detail how cortical nerve cells form synapses with neighbors
2015: Special Lecture, Society of Neuroscience Annual Meeting, Chicago
2013: President's Plenary Lecture, American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP), Florida
2007–2017: Simon’s Investigator; Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative
2010: Plenary Lecture, Society of Biological Psychiatry 65th Annual Meeting, New Orleans
2004–2007: McKnight Scholar Award in Neuroscience
2004–2006: EJLB Foundation Award
2002–2005: Pew Scholar Award
2004-2007: March of Dime Birth Defect Foundation Award
2001-2004: Whitehall Foundation Award