Weizhe Hong, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Biological Chemistry, Neurobiology
Member, Bioinformatics GPB Home Area, Gene Regulation GPB Home Area, Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology GPB Home Area, Neuroscience GPB Home Area
Research Interests

Social behaviors are exhibited by a wide range of animal species and are of ubiquitous adaptive value; many social behaviors, such as aggression, pair bonding, and mating, are essential for the health, survival, and reproduction of animals. The control of social behavior is of vital importance in social species such as humans; impairment in social function is a prominent feature of several neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia. However, despite its importance, many fundamental questions regarding the neural mechanisms underlying social behavior and its disorders still remain unanswered. One central question is how neural circuits, important computing units in the brain, process and integrate information for the decision and execution of specific social behaviors. To address this question, the Hong lab applies a multidisciplinary approach to investigating social behavior, using techniques including but not limited to:


The Hong Lab employs a multidisciplinary approach to identify the molecular and neural circuit mechanisms underlying normal social behaviors as well as their dysregulations in neuropsychiatric disorders. Social behaviors are essential for the survival and reproduction of animals. The control of social behavior is of particular importance in social species such as humans. Abnormalities in social behaviors are associated with several neuropsychiatric disorders, such as autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.  Despite its importance, many fundamental questions regarding social behavior and its disorders still remain unanswered. We aim to understand how social behavior is regulated at the molecular and circuit level and how social behavior and social experience lead to molecular and circuit level changes in the brain.

We study these questions across molecular, circuit, and behavioral levels, by linking genes to circuits to behaviors. To do that, we take a multi-disciplinary approach and utilize a variety of experimental and computational technologies, including but not limited to optogenetics/chemogenetics, in vivo/vitro calcium imaging and electrophysiology, various genetic and molecular biology techniques, systems approaches such as next-generation sequencing and bioinformatics, and engineering and computational approaches such as machine learning and computer vision.


A selected list of publications:

Chen P, Hong W^   Neural Circuit Mechanisms of Social Behavior Neuron, 2018; 98(1): 16-30.
Wu YE, Pan L, Zuo Y, Li X, Hong W^   Detecting Activated Cell Populations Using Single-Cell RNA-Seq Neuron, 2017; 96(2): 313-329.e6.
Hong W^, Kennedy A, Burgos-Artizzu XP, Zelikowsky M, Navonne SG, Perona P^, Anderson DJ^   Automated measurement of mouse social behaviors using depth sensing, video tracking, and machine learning Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA, 2015; 112(38): E5351-60.
Pearce MM, Spartz EJ, Hong W, Luo L, Kopito RR   Prion-like transmission of neuronal huntingtin aggregates to phagocytic glia in the Drosophila brain Nature communications, 2015; 6(38): 6768.
Ward A*, Hong W*, Favaloro V, Luo L   Toll receptors instruct axon and dendrite targeting and participate in synaptic partner matching in a Drosophila olfactory circuit Neuron, 2015; 85(5): 1013-28.
Hong W, Kim DW, Anderson DJ   Antagonistic control of social versus repetitive self-grooming behaviors by separable amygdala neuronal subsets Cell, 2014; 158(6): 1348-61.
Hong W^, Luo L   Genetic control of wiring specificity in the fly olfactory system Genetics, 2014; 196(1): 17-29.
Hong W^   Science & SciLifeLab Prize. Assembly of a neural circuit Science, 2013; 342(6163): 1186.
Hong W*, Wu YE*, Fu X, Chang Z   Chaperone-dependent mechanisms for acid resistance in enteric bacteria Trends in microbiology, 2012; 20(7): 328-35.
Hong W, Mosca TJ, Luo L   Teneurins instruct synaptic partner matching in an olfactory map Nature, 2012; 484(7393): 201-7.
Mosca TJ*, Hong W*, Dani VS, Favaloro V, Luo L   Trans-synaptic Teneurin signalling in neuromuscular synapse organization and target choice Nature, 2012; 484(7393): 237-41.
de Wit J*, Hong W*, Luo L, Ghosh A   Role of leucine-rich repeat proteins in the development and function of neural circuits Annual review of cell and developmental biology, 2011; 27(7393): 697-729.
Hong W, Luo L   Dendritic tiling through TOR signalling The EMBO journal, 2009; 28(24): 3783-4.
Hong W, Zhu H, Potter CJ, Barsh G, Kuruzu M, Zinn K, Luo L   Leucine-rich repeat transmembrane proteins instruct discrete dendrite targeting in an olfactory map Nature Neuroscience, 2009; 12(12): 1542-50.
Wu YE*, Hong W*, Zhang L, Liu C, Chang Z   Conserved amphiphilic feature is essential for periplasmic chaperone HdeA to support acid resistance in enteric bacteria The Biochemical journal, 2008; 412(2): 389-97.
Jiao W, Hong W, Li P, Sun S, Ma J, Qian M, Hu M, Chang Z   The dramatically increased chaperone activity of small heat-shock protein IbpB is retained for an extended period of time after the stress condition is removed The Biochemical journal, 2008; 410(1): 63-70.
Liu C, Mao K, Zhang M, Sun Z, Hong W, Li C, Peng B, Chang Z   The SH3-like domain switches its interaction partners to modulate the repression activity of mycobacterial iron-dependent transcription regulator in response to metal ion fluctuations Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2008; 283(4): 2439-53.
Hong W, Jiao W, Hu J, Zhang J, Liu C, Fu X, Shen D, Xia B, Chang Z   Periplasmic protein HdeA exhibits chaperone-like activity exclusively within stomach pH range by transforming into disordered conformation Journal of Biological Chemistry, 2005; 280(29): 27029-34.
Liu Y, Fu X, Shen J, Zhang H, Hong W, Chang Z   Periplasmic proteins of Escherichia coli are highly resistant to aggregation: reappraisal for roles of molecular chaperones in periplasm Biochemical and biophysical research communications, 2004; 316(3): 795-801.