Yuanquan Song, Ph.D.

faculty photo
Associate Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Department: Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Contact information
The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
3501 Civic Center Boulevard
5064 Colket Translational Research Building
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: 215-590-0631
Fax: 215-590-3660
Lab: 267-425-3024
B.S. (Biotechnology)
Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China, 2002.
Ph.D. (Neuroscience)
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, 2009.
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Description of Research Expertise

Research Interests
The long-term goal of the Song lab is to elucidate the cellular and molecular basis governing the formation, maintenance and function of neural circuits under physiological and pathological conditions, using both Drosophila and mammalian models.
With a background in neural development, neural circuits and behavior, fly and mouse genetics, injury and neurodegeneration models, our lab offers a unique skillset and perspective for addressing physiological questions in developmental/functional neurobiology and neurological diseases.

Neural degeneration, Neural regeneration, Neurodegenerative diesases, Drosophila, Spinal cord injury, Tumorigenesis

Research Details
Damage to the adult CNS, such as spinal cord injury (SCI) often leads to persistent deficits due to the inability of mature axons to regenerate after injury. Under pathological situations such as multiple sclerosis (MS), the second most common neurological disorder leading to disability in young adults, the failure of damaged axons to regenerate contributes to non-reversible neurologic dysfunction. Currently, only a few therapies with limited efficacy are available, highlighting the urgent need to identify novel molecular targets and develop targeted therapies. What is also lacking is a systematic way to dissect the pathways underlying the four steps of axon regeneration, namely degeneration/debris clearance, regrowth, overcoming the hostile environment and re-building connectivity.

Long-term Project
Cross-species and multi-model analyses to map the gene circuits critical for maintaining nervous system function
Our lab builds on a platform to take advantages of the power of fly genetics in discovering novel factors together with the mammalian injury models to study their homologs and functional recovery. We have established the Drosophila sensory neuron degeneration and regeneration model, and have recently developed a second Drosophila CNS injury model. We and collaborators have been utilizing and generating fly brain tumor models. We have experience with the fly neurodegeneration model, the rodent optic nerve crush and spinal cord injury models. We further plan to adopt the rodent motor neuron degeneration, glaucoma and traumatic brain injury models. Thus we will use fly as a discovery tool, to identify genetic pathways important for neural degeneration, regeneration and tumorigenesis, and assess their evolutionary conservation in vertebrates.

Immediate Projects
Theme I: Identifying novel pathways regulating axon degeneration and regeneration
The RNA repair/splicing pathway in axon regeneration
Ongoing genetic screens for regulators of axon/dendrite degeneration/regeneration

Theme II: Linking pathways regulating regeneration and neurodegenerative diseases

Theme III: An integrative and comparative strategy to study regeneration and tumorigenesis

Theme IV: Regenerative medicine
Based in the Raymond G. Perelman Center for Cellular and Molecular Therapeutics (CCMT), which is dedicated to the understanding, development, and application of gene and related cell and nucleic acid therapies, a major translational goal of the lab is to develop therapeutic strategies utilizing the targets identified from our mechnistic studies, for treating patients with neural injury, stroke and neurodegenerative diseases.

Fun research ideas: studying aggression and courtship in flies. New ideas welcome!

Rotation Projects
1. Utilize the fly sensory neuron injury model to identify and characterize novel pathways regulating dendrite/axon degeneration and regeneration.
2. Establish new fly injury models
3. Study tumorigenesis in flies (brain tumors and others)
4. Fun fly behaviors
5. Study degeneration and regeneration using mammalian injury models in vitro and in vivo

Lab Personnel
Principal Investigator: Yuanquan Song, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral scholars: Dan Li, Ph.D. and Feng Li, Ph.D.
Graduate students: Ernest Monahan, Emily Lo and Leann Miles
Technician: Jessica Goldshteyn
Undergraduate: Pavithran Guttipatti

Selected Publications

Yu D, Baird MA, Allen JR, Howe ES, Klassen MP, Reade A, Makhijani K, Song Y, Liu S, Murthy Z, Zhang SQ, Weiner OD, Kornberg TB, Jan YN, Davidsoin MW, Shu X: A naturally monomeric infrared fluorescent protein for protein labeling in vivo. Nat Methods 12(8): 763-765, Aug 2015.

Song Y, Sretavan D, Salegio EA, Berg J, Huang X, Cheng T, Xiong X, Meltzer S, Han C, Nguyen TT, Breshnahan JC, Beattie MS, Jan LY, Jan YN : Regulation of axon regeneration by the RNA repair and splicing pathway. Nat Neurosci 18(6): 817-825, June 2015 Notes: (Highlighted in Nature 2015; A way to regrow nerve fibres; Nature Reviews Neuroscience (2015) Splicing up repair mechanisms).

Han C*, Song Y*, Xiao H, Wang D, Franc NC, Jan LY, Jan YN: Epidermal cells are in the primary phagocytes in the fragmentation and clearance of degenerating dendrites in Drosophila. Neuron 81(3): 544-560, Feb 2014 Notes: *Co-First authors. (Highlighted in Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 2014; Epidermal cells eat up dendrites).

Yuan Q*, Song Y*, Yang CH, Jan LY, Jan YN: Female contact modulates male aggression via a sexually dimorphic GABAergic circuit in Drosophila. Nat Neurosci 17(1): 81-88, Jan 2014 Notes: *Co-first authors. (Highlighted in Nature Reviews Neuroscience 2014: The feminine touch dampens aggression; Highlighted in Nature Neuroscience 2014: How sex prevents violence: the magic of caress and GABA).

Song Y, Ori-McKenney KM, Zheng Y, Han C, Jan LY, Jan YN: Regeneration of Drosphilia sensory neuron axons and dendrites is regulated by the Akt pathway involving Pten and microRNA bantam. Genes Dev 26(14): 1612-1625, Jul 2012 Notes: (Highlighted in Genes Dev 2012: No simpler than mammals: axon and dendrite regeneration in Drosophila; Highlighted in F1000 2012).

Robinson BW*, Germano G*, Song Y*, Abrams J, Scott M, Guariento I, Tiso N, Argenton F, Basso G, Rhodes J, Kanki JP, Look AT, Balice-Gordon RJ, Felix CA: mil ortholog containing functional domains of human MLL is expressed throughout the zebrafish lifespan and in haematopoietic tissues. Br J Haematol 152(3): 307-321, Feb 2011 Notes: *Co-first authors.

Song Y, Willer JR, Scherer PC, Panzer JA, Kugath A, Skordalakes E, Gregg RG, Wiler GB, Balice-Gordon RJ: Neural and synaptic defects in slytherin, a zebrafish model for human congenital disorders of glycosylation. PLoS One 5(10): e13743, Oct 2010 Notes: (Highlighted in F1000 2011).

Song Y, Selak MA, Watson CT, Coutts C, Scherer PC, Panzer JA, Gibbs S, Scott MO, Willer G, Gregg RG, Ali DW, Bennett MJ, Balice-Gordoin RJ: Mechanisms underlying metabolic and neural defects in zebrafish and human multiple acyl-CoA dehydrogenase deficiency (MADD). PLoS One 4(12): e8329, Dec 2009.

Song Y, Balice-Gordon R: New dogs in the dogma: Lrp4 and Tid1 in neuromuscular synapse formation. Neuron 60(4): 526-528, Nov 2008.

Panzer JA*, Song Y*, Balice-Gordon RJ: In vivo imaging of preferential motor axon outgrowth to and synaptogenesis at prepatterned acetylcholine receptor clusters in embryonic zebrafish skeletal muscle. J Neurosci 26(3): 934-947, Jan 2006 Notes: *Co-first authors.

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Last updated: 03/07/2024
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