Nien-Pei Tsai

nptsai@illinois.edu

423A Burrill Hall
Office: (217) 244-5620
Lab: (217) 244-7095
Fax: (217) 333-1133

Mail to: Department of Molecular and Integrative Physiology
524 Burrill Hall
407 South Goodwin Avenue,
Urbana, IL 61801
Lab Page

Nien-Pei Tsai

Assistant Professor

Research Topics

Development, Neurobiology, Signal Transduction, Synaptic Transmission

Education

B.S. 2002 National Taiwan University, Taipei, Taiwan
M.Sc. 2004 National Yang-Ming University, Taipei, Taiwan
Ph.D. 2009 University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Postdoc 2010-2014 University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX

Teaching Interests

Molecular mechanisms underlying excitability homeostasis in health and disease

An imbalance in neuronal and synaptic excitability is a common abnormality observed in patients with various psychiatric and neurological disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar, mood disorders, epilepsy and autism spectrum disorders. Identifying and understanding the mechanisms underlying the regulation of excitability will potentially reveal novel therapeutic targets for these diseases. My laboratory utilizes various approaches including molecular and cell biology, biochemistry, electrophysiology, and mouse genetics to understand the regulation of excitability homeostasis at synaptic, neuronal, network and system levels. Two particular areas in which my laboratory studies include:

1) Ubiquitin proteasome system (UPS)-mediated protein degradation in excitability homeostasis

Our recent work identified two ubiquitin E3 ligases, murine double minute 2 (Mdm2) and neural precursor cell expressed developmentally downregulated gene 4-like (Nedd4-2), participating in activity-induced synapse elimination and excitability homeostasis. Our current research focuses on the identification of their substrates and downstream signaling pathways in the context of excitability regulation. Specifically, we employ multiple mouse models to understand how dysregulation of Mdm2 and Nedd4-2 may contribute to hyperexcitability in epilepsy and autism.

2) Translational control in neuronal and synaptic plasticity

Our long-term effort has identified multiple mechanisms of translational control involved in various synaptic plasticity mechanisms. Particularly our recent work has discovered that Mdm2 can function as a translational suppressor and mediate translation-associated neural plasticity. Our current research aims to elucidate the broad effects of Mdm2 on translational control. Because an abnormal translation is observed in multiple autism spectrum disorders, our research seeks to understand how dysregulated protein translation contributes to the deficits of synaptic and/or network plasticity in autism mouse models.

Awards

2015 NARSAD Young Investigator Award
2014 Simons Foundation Autism Initiative-Explorer Award
2011 National Research Service Award (NRSA) from NICHD/NIH
2011 Meritorious Award at Postdoctoral Symposium at UTSW
2010 Dr. Marvin and Hadassah Bacaner Research Award in Pharmacology, University of Minnesota
2008 Veneziale-Steer Research Award, University of Minnesota
2008 Milne Brandenberg Award for outstanding graduate research, University of Minnesota

Representative Publications

Liu DC, Seimetz J, Lee KY, Kalsotra A, Chung HJ, Lu H and Tsai NP (2017) Mdm2 mediates FMRP- and Gp1 mGluR-dependent protein translation and neural network activity. Hum Mol Genet. 26:3895–3908 [Link to paper]

Zhu J, Lee KY, Jewett KA, Man HY, Chung HJ and Tsai NP (2017) Epilepsy-associated gene Nedd4-2 mediates neuronal activity and seizure susceptibility through AMPA receptors. PLOS Genet. 13:e1006634 [Link to paper]

# Highlighted by Epilepsy Currents

Tsai NP*, Guo W, Wilkerson JR and Huber KM* (2017) FMRP-Dependent Mdm2 Dephosphorylation is required for MEF2-Induced Synapse Elimination. Hum Mol Genet. 26:293-304 (*co-corresponding authors)

Jewett KA, Christian CA, Bacos JT, Lee KY, Zhu J, and Tsai NP (2016) Feedback modulation of neural network synchrony and seizure susceptibility by Mdm2-p53-Nedd4-2 signaling. Mol Brain 9:32

Jewett KA, Zhu J, and Tsai NP (2015) The tumor suppressor p53 guides GluA1 homeostasis through Nedd4-2 during chronic elevation of neuronal activity. J Neurochem 135:226-233

Tsai NP (2014). Ubiquitin Proteasome System-Mediated Degradation of Synaptic Proteins: An Update from the Postsynaptic Side. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 1843:2838-2842

Wilkerson JR*, Tsai NP*, Maksimova MA, Wu H, Cabalo NP, Loerwald KW, Dictenberg JB, Gibson JR and Huber KM (2014). A role for dendritic mGluR5-mediated local translation of Arc/Arg3.1 in MEF2-dependent synapse elimination. Cell Rep 7:1589-1600 (*equal contribution)

Tsai NP*, Wilkerson, JR*, Guo, W, Maksimova, MA, DeMartino, GN, Cowan CW and Huber KM (2012) Multiple autism-linked genes mediate synapse elimination via proteasomal degradation of a synaptic scaffold PSD-95. Cell 151: 1581-1594 (*equal contribution)

Tsai NP, Lin YL, Tsui YC, Wei LN (2010) Dual action of epidermal growth factor: extracellular signal-stimulated nuclear-cytoplasmic export and coordinated translation of selected messenger RNA. J Cell Biol 188: 325-333.

Tsai NP, Tsui YC, Pintar JE, Loh HH, Wei LN (2010) Kappa opioid receptor contributes to EGF- stimulated neurite extension in development. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 107: 3216-3221.

Tsai NP, Ho PC, Wei LN (2008) Regulation of stress granule dynamics by Grb7 and FAK signalling pathway. EMBO J 27: 715-726.

Tsai NP, Bi J, Wei LN (2007) The adaptor Grb7 links netrin-1 signaling to regulation of mRNA translation. EMBO J 26: 1522-1531.

Tsai NP, Bi J, Loh HH, Wei LN (2006) Netrin-1 signaling regulates de novo protein synthesis of kappa opioid receptor by facilitating polysomal partition of its mRNA. J Neurosci 26: 9743-9749.

Complete Publications List