• B.S., 2003, Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea
  • Ph.D., 2009, UT Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, TX

Research Interests

Energy balance is controlled by intricate interplays between neural circuits regulating feeding behavior (energy in) and energy expenditure (energy out). These two arms of energy balance are influenced by various physiological, environmental, and psychological stimuli. I am interested in how these complicated signals are sensed and integrated in the brain to mount coordinated autonomic, hormonal, and behavioral responses to maximize the chance of animal survival. I take advantage of state-of-the-art mouse genetics and viral tools to label, monitor, and manipulate neural circuits involved in specific physiological responses. I am currently investigating the following areas:

  1. The central role of the newly discovered transcription factor Zbtb16 in coordinating counter-regulatory responses to energy deficit  - Zbtb16 is enriched in the paraventricular and the arcuate nuclei of the hypothalamus and the nucleus of the solitary tract, and highly induced under energy deficit conditions via glucocorticoid receptor signaling. Its induction increases food intake in the face of energy deficiency and we are actively investigating its mechanisms and other functions in the brain.

  2. Mechanisms of protein sensing and metabolic benefits resulted from dietary protein restriction  Dietary protein restriction enhances many metabolic parameters such as insulin sensitivity and the endocrine hormone Fgf21 is essential for most of those benefits. We are investigating the mechanism through which dietary protein restriction regulates Fgf21 and how Fgf21 coordinates changes in food intake and metabolism in response to protein restriction.

Department: Neurosignaling

Selected Publications

  1. Cheng H, Pablico SJ, Lee J, Chang JS, Yu S. Zinc Finger Transcription Factor Zbtb16 Coordinates the Response to Energy Deficit in the Mouse Hypothalamus. Front Neurosci. 2020;14:592947. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2020.592947. eCollection 2020. PubMed PMID: 33335471; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC7736175.
  2. Yu S, Cheng H, François M, Qualls-Creekmore E, Huesing C, He Y, Jiang Y, Gao H, Xu Y, Zsombok A, Derbenev AV, Nillni EA, Burk DH, Morrison CD, Berthoud HR, Münzberg H. Preoptic leptin signaling modulates energy balance independent of body temperature regulation. Elife. 2018 May 15;7. pii: e33505. doi: 10.7554/eLife.33505. PubMed PMID: 29761783.
  3. François M, Qualls-Creekmore E, Berthoud HR, Münzberg H, Yu S. Genetics-based manipulation of adipose tissue sympathetic innervation. Physiol Behav. 2018 Jun 1;190:21-27. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2017.08.024. Epub 2017 Aug 30. Review. PubMed PMID: 28859876; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5832526.
  4. Yu S, François M, Huesing C, Münzberg H. The Hypothalamic Preoptic Area and Body Weight Control. Neuroendocrinology. 2018;106(2):187-194. doi: 10.1159/000479875. Epub 2017 Aug 10. PubMed PMID: 28772276.
  5. Qualls-Creekmore E, Yu S, Francois M, Hoang J, Huesing C, Bruce-Keller A, Burk D, Berthoud HR, Morrison CD, Münzberg H. Galanin-Expressing GABA Neurons in the Lateral Hypothalamus Modulate Food Reward and Noncompulsive Locomotion. J Neurosci. 2017 Jun 21;37(25):6053-6065. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0155-17.2017. Epub 2017 May 24. PubMed PMID: 28539422; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5481941.
  6. Yu S, Qualls-Creekmore E, Rezai-Zadeh K, Jiang Y, Berthoud HR, Morrison CD, Derbenev AV, Zsombok A, Münzberg H. Glutamatergic Preoptic Area Neurons That Express Leptin Receptors Drive Temperature-Dependent Body Weight Homeostasis. J Neurosci. 2016 May 4;36(18):5034-46. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0213-16.2016. PubMed PMID: 27147656; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4854966.