Research in the Jackson lab is currently focused on exploring roles for glial cells (astrocytes) in modulating behavior, using the fruit fly Drosophila as a model. We are particularly interested in glial-neuron communication and its relevance to behavior, with emphasis on sleep and circadian behavior.
Genetic or environmental insults affecting the circadian system result in alterations of sleep, seasonal depression and other neurological disorders. Our lab employs classical genetic approaches combined with genome-wide expression profiling, cellular imaging and behavioral studies to understand the neural circuitry controlling rhythmic behaviors. We have shown that glial astrocytes of the Drosophila brain are critical for normal rhythmicity and that they regulate the circadian neuronal circuitry (Suh and Jackson, 2007); Ng et al, 2011, 2015, 2016).
In several studies, we have performed genome-wide translational profiling of adult fly astrocytes and conducted RNA interference (RNAi)-based genetic screens to identify specific glial factors that are required for circadian behavior or sleep (Huang et al, 2015; Ng et al, 2016). One such factor is a small secreted Ig-domain protein that is required in both astrocytes and neurons for normal sleep patterns (Sengupta et al., 2019). In other studies, we have identified microRNAs (miRNAs) and putative target mRNAs that are required in astrocytes for normal rhythmic behavior (You et al., 2018). In a recent study, we defined the 'rhythmic translatome' of astrocytes and demonstrated that certain rhythmic glial mRNAs encoding innate immune factors are required for normal sleep (You et al. 2021). Lab research continues to be focused on understanding the neural circuits and cellular pathways through which astrocytes and specific glial factors regulate behavior.
Doctor of Philosophy, University of California, Los Angeles, USA, 1982
Bachelor of Arts, California State University, USA, 1975