|Long-Jun Wu, Ph.D., Assistant Professor
B333 Nelson Labs
604 Allison Road
Piscataway, NJ 08854-6999
VOICE: (732) 445-2182
FAX: (732) 445-5870
Visit the Wu Lab
Work in Prof. Wu’s lab shows how microglia interact with neurons. Microglia are labeled with GFP. The figure show microglia sending processes to damage signals, such as ATP. Prof. Wu’s lab mainly focuses on how microglia communicate with neurons using electrophysiology and imaging approaches both in vitro and in vivo.
The long-term goal of my lab is to understand microglia-neuron communication in the brain. Microglia are the principal immune-response cells in the central nervous system. Resting microglia constantly survey the microenvironment in the normal brain. Upon brain dysfunction, microglia are activated and exert detrimental or beneficial effects on the surrounding neurons. Microglia have remarkably fast and dynamic activities in both the normal and pathological brain. An exciting possibility is that they are communicating with neurons through ion channel mechanisms. In neuronal circuits, microglia are assumed to be crucial to synaptic pruning and plasticity, yet no direct evidence has been identified. Microglia are strongly activated in pathological conditions such as pain, stroke and neurodegeneration, however, the molecular mechanisms for microglial activation and function in brain diseases are still controversial.
Overall, we are interested in three interrelated topics on microglia-neuron communication: (1) The ion channel mechanism of microglia-neuron communication; (2) Microglia in synaptic function; and (3) Microglia’s contribution to neuropathic pain. We have been exploring microglia chemotaxis (Wu et al., Glia, 2007, Fig.1), microglia in synaptic plasticity (Wu and Zhuo, J Neurophysiol, 2008), as well as an unique microglial voltage-gated proton channel, Hv1, in the brain (Wu et al., Nat Neurosci, 2012). Taking Hv1 proton channel as an entry point, our initial project will study direct communication from microglia to neurons through microglial Hv1. We will then explore how microglia function in neuronal circuits under normal and pain conditions. The results from our studies would advance the understanding of microglia function in the brain and provide therapeutic targets for neuropathic pain treatment.