Principal Investigator

Yi Rao
Behavior and Cognition, Molecular Biology and Genetics, Chemoconnectomics



Research Interests:

The Rao laboratory uses approaches based on molecular biology, genetics, biochemistry, biophysics and chemistry to study questions important in neurobiology. Model organisms include Drosophila, mice,rats and humans.


Selected Publications:

  1.  Li Y, Li CG, Liu YX, Yu JJ, Yang JQ, Cui YF, Wang TV, Li CY, Jiang LF, Song ML and Rao Y (2023). Sleep need, the key regulator of sleep homeostasis, is both indicated and controlled by phosphorylation of threonine 221 in salt inducible kinase 3. Genetics224:iyad136 (bioRxiv 2021.11.06.467421).
  2.  Dai X, Yang W, Zhang X, Zhou E, Liu Y, Wang T, Zhang WX, Zhang XX and Rao Y (2023). ppGpp is present in, and functions to regulate sleep of, Drosophila. hLife (bioRxiv2022.11.17.516975).
  3. Jia X, Zhu J, Bian X, Liu S, Yu S, Liang W, Jiang L, Mao R and Rao Y (2023) Importance of glutamine in synaptic vesicles revealed by functional studies of SLC6A17 and its mutations pathogenic for intellectual disability. eLife 12:RP86972 (bioRxiv2022.10.25.513688).
  4.  Liu Y, Shan L, Liu T, Li J, Chen Y, Sun C, Yang C, Bian X, Niu Y, Zhang C, Xi J and Rao Y (2023). Molecular and cellular mechanisms of the first social relationship: A conserved role of 5-HT from mice to monkeys, upstream of oxytocin. Neuron 111:1468-1685.
  5. Liu ZY, Jiang LF, Li CY, Li CG, Yang JQ, Yu JJ, Mao RB and Rao Y (2022). LKB1 is physiologically required for sleep from Drosophila melanogaster to the Mus musculus. Genetics 221:iyac082.
  6. Liu YX, Wang TV, Cui YF, Li CY, Jiang LF and Rao Y (2022). STE20 phosphorylation of AMPK related kinases revealed by biochemical purifications combined with genetics. J Biol Chem 298:101928.
  7. Liu YX, Wang TV, Cui YF, Gao SX and Rao Y (2022). Biochemical purification uncovers mammalian sterile 3 (MST3) as a new protein kinase for multifunctional protein kinases AMPK and SIK3.J Biol Chem 298:101929.
  8. Dai XHM, Zhou EX, Yang W, Deng BW, Li Q, Liu XX, Zhang WX and Rao Y (2021). Molecular resolution of a behavioral paradox: sleep and arousal are regulated by distinct acetylcholine receptors in different neuronal types in Drosophila. Sleep 10:1093.
  9. Zhu ZJ, Chen BQ, Na R, Fang W, Zhang WX, Zhou Q, Zhou SB, Lei H, Huang AL, Chen TM, Gao TM, Chen L, Ni DS, Gu YP, Liu JN, Chen JY, Rao Y and Fang F (2020). Heritability of human visual contour integration—an integrated genomic study. Eur J Hum Genet 27:1867-1875.
  10. Rao Y (2019). The First Hormone: Adrenaline. Trends Endocrinol Metab 30:331-334.
  11. Dai XHM, Zhou EX, Yang W, WX Zhang and Rao Y (2019). D-serine made by serine racemase in Drosophila intestine plays a physiological role in sleep. Nature Commun 10:1986.
  12. Deng BW, Li Q, Liu XX, Cao Y, Li BF, Qian YJ, Xu R, Mao RB, Zhou EX, Zhang WX, Huang J and Rao Y (2019). Chemoconnectomics: Mapping Chemical Transmission in Drosophila. Neuron 101: 876–893.
  13. 13.   Chen BQ, Zhu ZJ, Na R, Fang W, Zhou SB, Zhou Q, Lei H, Huang AL, Chen TM, Ni DS, Gu YP, Liu JN, Fang F and Rao Y (2018). Genomic Analyses of Visual Cognition: Perceptual Rivalry and Top-Down Control.  J Neurosci 38:9668 –9678.
  14. Zhu ZJ, Chen BQ, Yan HM, Fang W, Zhou Q, Zhou SB, Lei H, Huang AL, Chen TM, Gao TM, Chen L, Chen JY, Ni DS, Gu YP, Liu JN, Zhang WX and Rao Y (2018). Multi-level genomic analyses suggest new genetic variants involved in human memory. Eur J Hum Genet 26:1668-1678.
  15. Zhang X, Yan HM, Huang ZL and Rao Y (2018). Thermoregulation-Independent Regulation of Sleep by Serotonin Revealed in Mice Defective in Serotonin Synthesis. Mol Pharmacol 93:657-664.
  16. Chen BQ, Zhu, ZJ, Wang YY, Ding XH, Guo XB, He MG, Fang W, Zhou SB, Zhou Q, Huang AL, Chen TM, Ni DS, Gu YP, Liu JN, Lei H and Rao Y (2018). Nature vs. nurture in human sociality: multi-level genomic analyses of social conformity. J Hum Genet 63:605-619.
  17. Qian YJ, Cao Y, Deng BW, Yang G, Li J, Xu R, Zhang D, Huang J and Rao Y (2017). Sleep homeostasis regulated by 5HT2b receptor in a small subset of neurons in the dorsal fan-shaped body of Drosophila. eLife 6:e26519.
  18.  Zhu ZJ, Wang YY, Cao ZJ, Chen BQ, Cai HQ, Wu YH and Rao Y (2016). Cue-independent memory impairment by reactivation-coupled interference in human declarative memory. Cognitio,155:125–134.
  19. Zhang SS, Liu Y and Rao Y (2013). Serotonin signaling in the brain of adult female mice is required for sexual preference. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 110: 9968-9973.
  20. Zhou C, Huang H, Kim SM, Lin H, Meng X, Chiang A-S, Wang JW, Jiao R and Rao Y (2012). Molecular genetic analysis of sexual rejection: roles of octopamine and its receptor OAMB in Drosophila courtship conditioning. J Neurosci 32:14281-14287.
  21.  Liu WW, Liang XH, Li YN, Gong JX, Yang Z, Zhang YH, Zhang JX and Rao Y (2011). Social regulation of aggression mediated by pheromonal activation of Or65a olfactory receptor neurons in Drosophila. Nat Neurosci 7:896-902.
  22.  Liu Y, Jiang Y, Si Y, Kim J-Y, Chen Z-F and Rao Y (2011). Molecular regulation of sexual preference revealed by genetic studies of 5-HT in the brain of male mice. Nature 472:95-99.
  23. Zhou C, Rao Y and Rao Y (2008). A subset of octopaminergic neurons are important for Drosophila aggression. Nat Neurosci 11:1059-1067.
  24.  Li X, Gao X, Liu G, Xiong W, Wu J and Rao Y (2008). Netrin signal transduction and the guanine nucleotide exchange factor DOCK180 in attractive signaling. Nat Neurosci 11:28-35.
  25.  Guo W, Jiang H, Gray V, Dedhar S and Rao Y (2007). Role of the integrin-linked kinase (ILK) in determining neuronal polarity. Dev Biol 306:457-468.
  26. Jiang H, Guo W, Liang XH and Y Rao (2005). Both the establishment and the maintenance of neuronal polarity require active mechanisms: critical roles of GSK-3b and its upstream regulators. Cell 120:123-135.
  27. Liu G, Beggs H, Jürgensen C, Park HT, Tang H, Gorski J, Jones KR, Reichardt LF, Wu JY and Rao Y (2004). Netrin requires the focal adhesion kinase and the Src family kinases to induce axon outgrowth and to attract axons. Nat Neurosci 7:1222-1232.
  28. Ward ME, Wu JY and Rao Y (2004). Visualization of spatially and temporally regulated N-WASP activity during cytoskeletal reorganization in living cells. Proc Natl Acad Sci 101:970-974.
  29. Zhu Y, Yu T, Zhang X-C, Nagasawa T, Wu JY and Rao Y (2002). Role of the chemokine SDF-1 as the meningeal attractant for embryonic cerebellar neurons. Nat Neurosci. 5:719-720.
  30. 30.   Wong K, Ren X-R, Huang Y-Z, Xie Y, Liu G, Saito H, Tang H, Wen L, Brady-Kalnay SM, Mei L, Wu JY, Xiong W-C and Rao Y (2001). Signal transduction in neuronal migration: roles of GTPase activating proteins and the small GTPase Cdc42 in the Slit-Robo pathway. Cell 107:209-221.
  31. Wu JY, Feng L, Park H-T, Havlioglu N, Wen L, Tang H, Bacon KB, Jiang Z, Zhang X-C and Rao Y (2001). The neuronal repellent Slit inhibits leukocyte chemotaxis induced by chemotactic factors. Nature 410:948-952.
  32. Wu W, Wong K, Chen JH, Jiang ZH, Dupuis S, Wu JY and Rao Y (1999). Directional guidance of neuronal migration in the olfactory system by the secreted protein Slit. Nature 400:331-336.
  33. Li HS, Chen JH, Wu W, Fagaly T, Yuan WL, Zhou L, Dupuis S, Jiang Z, Nash W, Gick C, Ornitz D, Wu JY and Rao Y (1999). Vertebrate Slit, a secreted ligand for the transmembrane protein Roundabout, is a repellent for olfactory bulb axons. Cell 96:807-818. 
  34. Li HS, Tierney C, Wen L, Wu JY and Rao Y (1997). A single morphogenetic field gives rise to two retina primordia under the influence of the prechordal mesoderm. Development 124:603-615. 
  35. Rao Y, Jan LY, and Jan YN (1990). Similarity of the product of the Drosophila neurogenic gene big brain to transmembrane channel proteins. Nature 345:163-167. 


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