Personal profile

Research Interests

My laboratory studies the regulation of spinal motor neuron and ventral midbrain dopaminergic neuron differentiation in development and disease. We want to understand what genetic and epigenetic mechanisms are utilized to regulate motor neuron and dopaminergic neuron differentiation and why these specific type of neurons degenerate in spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and Parkinson's disease. To address these questions, we use a combination of biochemical, genetic and cell biological approaches, and utilize induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells reprogrammed from fibroblasts, genetically modified mice, and zebrafish as model systems. Based on our findings, we hope to develop new therapeutic strategies for treating SMA and Parkinson's disease.


  • Stem Cells
  • Developmental genetics
  • Developmental Neurobiology
  • Spinal Muscular Atrophy
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Neurogenetics
  • Aging

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the persons scientific documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

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Motor Neurons Medicine & Life Sciences
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Dopaminergic Neurons Medicine & Life Sciences
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Research Output 1998 2017

  • 1355 Citations
  • 21 Article
  • 4 Review article

A novel ALS-associated variant in UBQLN4 regulates motor axon morphogenesis

Edens, B. M., Yan, J., Miller, N., Deng, H. X., Siddique, T. & Ma, Y. C. May 2 2017 In : eLife. 6, e25453

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Wnt Signaling Pathway
beta Catenin
1 Citations

Sirt3 protects dopaminergic neurons from mitochondrial oxidative stress

Shi, H., Deng, H. X., Gius, D., Schumacker, P. T., Surmeier, D. J. & Ma, Y. C. May 15 2017 In : Human Molecular Genetics. 26, 10, p. 1915-1926 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Sirtuin 3
Dopaminergic Neurons
Oxidative Stress
Pars Compacta
Superoxide Dismutase
40 Citations

Identification of TMEM230 mutations in familial Parkinson's disease

Deng, H. X. , Shi, Y. , Yang, Y. , Ahmeti, K. B. , Miller, N. , Huang, C. , Cheng, L. , Zhai, H. , Deng, S. , Nuytemans, K. , Corbett, N. J. , Kim, M. J. , Deng, H. , Tang, B. , Yang, Z. , Xu, Y. , Chan, P. , Huang, B. , Gao, X. P. , Song, Z. & 14 others Liu, Z., Fecto, F., Siddique, N., Foroud, T., Jankovic, J., Ghetti, B., Nicholson, D. A., Krainc, D., Melen, O., Vance, J. M., Pericak-Vance, M. A., Ma, Y. C., Rajput, A. H. & Siddique, T. Jul 1 2016 In : Nature Genetics. 48, 7, p. 733-739 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Parkinson Disease
Synaptic Vesicles
4 Citations

Impaired autophagy and defective mitochondrial function: Converging paths on the road to motor neuron degeneration

Edens, B. M., Miller, N. & Ma, Y. C. Mar 3 2016 In : Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience. 10, MAR2016, 44

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Nerve Degeneration
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Motor Neurons
6 Citations

Excessive Wnt/beta-catenin signaling promotes midbrain floor plate neurogenesis, but results in vacillating dopamine progenitors

Nouri, N., Patel, M. J., Joksimovic, M., Poulin, J. F., Anderegg, A., Taketo, M. M., Ma, Y. C. & Awatramani, R. Sep 1 2015 In : Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience. 68, p. 131-142 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

beta Catenin
Dopaminergic Neurons