Junsu Kang

Assistant Professor

junsu.kang@wisc.edu

Cell and Regenerative Biology
Zebrafish, regeneration, fin, heart, enhancer, genetic mutant

Address
4451 WIMR II, 1111 Highland Ave.
Department
Cell and Regenerative Biology
Research Interests
Our lab studies how zebrafish possess a remarkable potential to regenerate tissues, such as amputated appendages and damaged heart muscle.
Research Fields
Zebrafish, regeneration, fin, heart, enhancer, genetic mutant
Lab Website
Lab Website

1. Fin regeneration Zebrafish is amenable to forward genetic screening, a powerful approach to discover novel factors affecting the phenotype. To identify novel regeneration factors, we carried out forward genetic screening and isolated many mutant families which exhibit fin regeneration defects in a temperature-dependent manner. The goal of this project is to identify novel genes and their cellular and molecular mechanisms in fin regeneration and further to determine their roles in the regeneration of other tissues including the heart. This work will discover novel findings that are important for tissue regeneration.

2. Heart regeneration Most human genes are highly conserved in zebrafish. However, unlike adult humans, zebrafish can regenerate their damaged heart tissues. This discrepancy in heart regeneration is attributable to differential expression of essential genes upon cardiac injury. Major efforts have been made to generate the molecular blueprint of heart regeneration, yet regulatory events are poorly understood. Previously, we reported the first Tissue Regeneration Enhancer Elements (TREEs), short DNA sequences which can activate tissue regeneration programs. The activity of TREE is very specific: restricted to wound tissues and only during regeneration. Intriguingly, the specificity of TREE can be engineered with a regenerative factor, and we showed that TREE-engineered pro- or anti-regenerative factors do not influence development but are strongly induced upon injury, suggesting that enhancer engineering with TREE can modulate tissue regeneration positively or negatively. Our laboratory will employ various methodologies including transgenic assays, small molecule screening, and biochemical analysis to uncover how cardiac TREE activity is precisely controlled. Investigation of cardiac TREE will allow us to solve the mystery of heart regeneration and further to inspire the therapeutic strategy to unlock our bodies’ latent healing power to give back healthy cardiac tissues to patients.


Representative Publications:

Search PubMed for more publications by Junsu Kang

Kang, J., Hu, J., Karra, R., Dickson, A.L, Tornini, V.A., Nachtrab, G., Gemberling, M., Goldman, J.A., Black, B.L., Poss, K.D. Modulation of tissue repair by regeneration enhancer elements. Nature. 523(7598):201-206, (2016)

Kang, J., Karra, R., and Poss, K.D. Back in Black. Developmental Cell. 33(6):623-624, (2015)

Kang, J., Nachtrab, G., Poss, K.D., Local Dkk1 Crosstalk from Breeding Ornaments Impedes Regeneration of Injured Male Zebrafish Fins. Developmental Cell. 27(1):19-31, (2013) (This paper is chosen by cover story.)

Kang, J.*, Bai, Z.*, Zegarek, M.H., Grant, B.D., Lee, J. Essential roles of snap-29 in C. elegans. Developmental Biology. 355(1):77-88, (2011). (* These two equally contributed to this work)

Choi, B., Kang, J., Park, YS., Lee, J., Cho, NJ. A possible role for FRM-1, a C. elegans FERM family protein, in embryonic development. Molecules and Cells. 31(5):455-459, (2011).

Min, K.*, Kang, J.*, Lee, J. A modified feeding RNAi method for simultaneous knock-down of more than one gene in Caenorhabditis elegans. Biotechniques. 48(3): 229-232, (2010). (* These two equally contributed to this work)

Kang, J., Shin, D., Yu, JR., Lee, J. Lats kinase is involved in the intestinal apical membrane integrity in the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. Development. 136(16): 2705-2715 (2009).

Kim, YH., Song, HO., Ko, KM., Singaravelu, G., Jee, C., Kang, J., Ahnn, J. A novel calcineurin-interacting protein, CNP-3, modulates calcineurin deficient phenotypes in Caenorhabditis elegans. Molecules and Cells. 25(4):566-571 (2008).