Associate Professor Greg Seong-Bae Suh
Animals in the wild encounter many types of external stimuli such as threat and food, and must exhibit appropriate responses for survival. How does a brain recognize such stimuli with sensory systems, create internal representations of these external stimuli, and then elicit appropriate behavioral responses?
To address this problem, we take systems approach and use the fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, because of a wealth of genetic tools available, a relatively simple brain, and a complex, interesting behavioral repertoire. Rapidly emerging tools also permit relatively facile identification of neural substrates. We recently launched studies using mice in addition to fruit flies.
Our focus has been to identify neurons that subserve a particular innate behavior, apply functional imaging and electro-physiology to probe their activity, therefore, define precisely contributions of each set of neurons to behavior.
We are currently interested in identification and characterization of post-ingestive, internal sensors that detect the nutritional value of carbohydrate, fats and protein (macronutrients), and micronutrients in Drosophila. We are extending this line of work in mice to elucidate the identities and characteristics of the mammalian nutrient sensors, and understand the mechanisms by which these sensors contribute to feeding and metabolism.
Among a number of discoveries that our laboratory has made thus far, we have contributed significantly to understanding the function of Glucose-sensing neurons in the brain.
Glucose-sensing neurons were identified initially by electrophysiological recordings (Oomura et al., 1964 Science), but the physiological function mediated by these neurons in animals were unclear until recently. We have been able to elucidate their function using Drosophila: 1) the nutritional content of sugar, rather than its palatability, was detected by a discrete population of glucose-excited neurons (termed DH44 neurons) that promote sugar consumption (Dus et al., 2015 Neuron and 2011 PNAS) and 2) a pair of glucose-excited neurons (termed CN neurons) regulate the two key endocrine axes: insulin and glucagon (Oh et al., 2019 Nature).
These are a series of significant discoveries because approximately 10-15% of neurons in our brain are glucose-sensing, but it has taken over 50 years to reveal their physiological function in an animal. Understanding the functions of glucose-sensing in Drosophila would provide a foundation for studying their functions in mice and humans, and developing therapeutic potentials for health issues such as obesity, diabetes, eating disorders.
Brief career history
- BS, University of California, Berkeley
- PhD., University of California, Los Angeles
- Postdoctoral Fellowship, California Institute of Technology
- Associated faculty of Center for Neural Science, NYU
- Associate Professor (with Tenure), Skirball Institute, Cell Biology, Neuroscience Institute, NYU School of Medicine
- Associate Professor (with Tenure), Department of Biological Sciences, KAIST
- A glucose-sensing neuron pair regulates insulin and glucagon in Drosophila. Oh Y, Lai JS, Mills HJ, Erdjument-Bromage H, Giammarinaro B, Saadipour K, Wang JG, Abu F, Neubert TA, Suh GSB.Nature. 2019 Oct;574(7779):559-564. doi: 10.1038/s41586-019-1675-4. Epub 2019 Oct 23.PMID: 31645735 Free PMC article.
- Rapid, biphasic CRF neuronal responses encode positive and negative valence. Kim J, Lee S, Fang YY, Shin A, Park S, Hashikawa K, Bhat S, Kim D, Sohn JW, Lin D, Suh GSB.Nat Neurosci. 2019 Apr;22(4):576-585. doi: 10.1038/s41593-019-0342-2. Epub 2019 Mar 4.PMID: 30833699 Free PMC article.
- Nutrient Sensor in the Brain Directs the Action of the Brain-Gut Axis in Drosophila. Dus M, Lai JS, Gunapala KM, Min S, Tayler TD, Hergarden AC, Geraud E, Joseph CM, Suh GS.Neuron. 2015 Jul 1;87(1):139-51. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2015.05.032. Epub 2015 Jun 11.PMID: 26074004 Free PMC article.
- Identification and characterization of GAL4 drivers that mark distinct cell types and regions in the Drosophila adult gut. Lim SY, You H, Lee J, Lee J, Lee Y, Lee KA, Kim B, Lee JH, Jeong J, Jang S, Kim B, Choi H, Hwang G, Choi MS, Yoon SE, Kwon JY, Lee WJ, Kim YJ, Suh GSB.J Neurogenet. 2021 Mar;35(1):33-44. doi: 10.1080/01677063.2020.1853722. Epub 2020 Dec 16.PMID: 33326321
- Signal Amplification in Drosophila Olfactory Receptor Neurons. Kim BS, Suh GSB.Neuron. 2019 Dec 4;104(5):829-831. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.11.021.PMID: 31805260 Free article.