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Yang Xiang PhD

TitleAssistant Professor
InstitutionUMass Chan Medical School
AddressUMass Chan Medical School
364 Plantation Street LRB 725
Worcester MA 01605
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    Other Positions
    InstitutionT.H. Chan School of Medicine

    InstitutionT.H. Chan School of Medicine
    DepartmentNeuroNexus Institute

    InstitutionMorningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
    DepartmentMD/PhD Program

    InstitutionMorningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

    InstitutionMorningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences
    DepartmentTranslational Science

    Collapse Biography 
    Collapse education and training
    Nanjing University, Nanjing, , ChinaBSBiochemistry
    Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, , ChinaPHDNeurobiology

    Collapse Overview 
    Collapse overview


    Yang Xiang received his B.S. in Biochemistry from Nanjing University in 1999. He carried out his doctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Mu-ming Poo at the institute of Neuroscience, Chinese Academy of Sciences, where he studied axonal guidance, obtained his Ph.D in Neurobiology in 2003. Yang Xiang then received the Human Frontiers Science Program fellowship to work as a postdoctoral associate with Dr. Yuh-Nung Jan at HHMI, University of California San Francisco from 2004-2012, studying sensory neuron function in Drosophila. He started his laboratory in the Department of Neurobiology at The University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2012.

    Molecular and neural circuit mechanisms underlying behavior

    Our lab is interested in understanding how the nervous system detects and processes sensory stimuli to generate appropriate behavior, a central question in neurobiology. We work on the genetically tractable organism Drosophila. Specifically, our research focuses on the innate escape behavior triggered by harmful light in Drosophila larvae. We found that a specific class of sensory neurons (namely, class IV dendritic arborization (da) neurons) are novel photoreceptors activated by intense harmful short wavelength light, with spectral sensitivity UV>violet>blue>>green~red, and mediate larval escape behavior when illuminated by UV, violet and blue light. Classical phototransduction molecules are not required in class IV da neurons. Instead, gustatory receptor 28b (Gr28b), G protein signaling and dTRPA1 are critical. Beyond harmful light, class IV da neurons also sense noxious heat (>40oC) and the irritant chemical AITC, a major component of wasabi.

    Applying molecular genetics, GCaMP-based functional imaging, electrophysiology, and behavioral assay, our goal is to dissect the molecular, cellular and neural circuit mechanisms underlying sensory stimuli-induced behavior in Drosophila larvae. Specifically, we aim to (1) identify the phototransduction mechanism in class IV da neurons; (2) define and characterize the neural circuits underlying light-induced escape behavior. 

    People in the lab

    Postdoctoral Fellows


    Pengyu Gu, Ph.D.(Nanjing University)





    Kendra Takle, B.S.(University of Wisconsin, Madison)


    Yang Xiang photo 1


    Figure 1 Dorsal view of a 3rd instar Drosophila larva (5 mm in length) with class IV da neurons marked by ppk-CD4TdGFP. en-GAL4 in red marks the posterior epidermal cells of each segment. Each larva has 11 segments and there are 3 class IV da neurons in each hemi-segment. Dendrites of class IV da neurons cover the entire larval body wall in a complete but non-overlapping fashion, a phenomenon called dendritic tiling. This organization will ensure that larvae can detect strong harmful light exposure over their entire bodies. (Image Credit: Dr. Chun Han, UCSF)



    Yang Xiang photo 2


    Figure 2 class IV da neurons detect harmful UV to initiate the escape behavior. Our working model is that Gr28b absorbs photon, and leads to dTRPA1 channels opening and action potential firing in class IV da neurons. Electrical signals encoded by class IV da neurons will be decoded by neural circuits in the CNS into escape behavior.



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    Movie 1 Upon 5 s light stimulation of the anterior region (0.57 mW/mm2 white light, comparable to sunlight intensity), a 3rd instar larva of wt (left) exhibits avoidance behavior, while a larva with class IV da neurons genetically ablated (right) doesn’t avoid light.


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    Movie 2 Class IV da neurons are specifically activated by UV (365 nm) and blue (470 nm), but not green (546 nm) light. Shown here are larval peripheral sensory neurons in a dorsal cluster expressing GCaMP3, with the arrow pointing to the class IV da neuron. 5 s light stimulation is indicated in the upper-right corner. GCaMP3 fluorescence is marked by pseudo-color, with red indicating high and blue indicating low intensity. Similar light activation of class IV da neurons is observed in lateral and ventral clusters across the entire larval body wall.








    Collapse Rotation Projects

    One rotation student is expected in the lab to characterize the expression and function of Drosophila gustatory receptor 28b (Gr28b) in phototransduction and taste sensation. Please contact Dr. Yang Xiang for details.


    Yang Xiang, Ph.D.
    University of Massachusetts Medical School
    Department of Neurobiology, LRB 725
    364 Plantation Street
    Worcester, MA 01605 USA
    phone: 508-856-6816 (office)

    Collapse Bibliographic 
    Collapse selected publications
    Publications listed below are automatically derived from MEDLINE/PubMed and other sources, which might result in incorrect or missing publications. Faculty can login to make corrections and additions.
    Newest   |   Oldest   |   Most Cited   |   Most Discussed   |   Timeline   |   Field Summary   |   Plain Text
    PMC Citations indicate the number of times the publication was cited by articles in PubMed Central, and the Altmetric score represents citations in news articles and social media. (Note that publications are often cited in additional ways that are not shown here.) Fields are based on how the National Library of Medicine (NLM) classifies the publication's journal and might not represent the specific topic of the publication. Translation tags are based on the publication type and the MeSH terms NLM assigns to the publication. Some publications (especially newer ones and publications not in PubMed) might not yet be assigned Field or Translation tags.) Click a Field or Translation tag to filter the publications.
    1. Zhao C, Xie M, Liang L, Yang L, Han H, Qin X, Zhao J, Hou Y, Dai W, Du C, Xiang Y, Liu S, Huang X. Genome-Wide Association Analysis Combined With Quantitative Trait Loci Mapping and Dynamic Transcriptome Unveil the Genetic Control of Seed Oil Content in Brassica napus L. Front Plant Sci. 2022; 13:929197. PMID: 35845656.
    2. Hu LW, Xiang Y, Qin SY, Ouyang RZ, Liu JL, Peng YF, Xie WH, Zhang Y, Liu H, Zhong YM. Vortex formation time as an index of left ventricular filling efficiency: comparison between children volunteers and patients with tetralogy of Fallot. Transl Pediatr. 2022 Jun; 11(6):869-881. PMID: 35800277.
    3. Wang Y, Deng Y, Liu N, Chen Y, Jiang Y, Teng Z, Ma Z, Chang Y, Xiang Y. Alterations in the Gut Microbiome of Individuals With Tuberculosis of Different Disease States. Front Cell Infect Microbiol. 2022; 12:836987. PMID: 35425720.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:Humans
    4. Gu P, Wang F, Shang Y, Liu J, Gong J, Xie W, Han J, Xiang Y. Nociception and hypersensitivity involve distinct neurons and molecular transducers in Drosophila. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2022 03 22; 119(12):e2113645119. PMID: 35294287.
      Citations:    Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    5. Li K, Xu K, He Y, Lu L, Mao Y, Gao P, Liu G, Wu J, Zhang Y, Xiang Y, Luo Z, Cai K. Functionalized Tumor-Targeting Nanosheets Exhibiting Fe(II) Overloading and GSH Consumption for Ferroptosis Activation in Liver Tumor. Small. 2021 10; 17(40):e2102046. PMID: 34448349.
      Citations: 5     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    6. Ding X, Wang J, Huang M, Chen Z, Liu J, Zhang Q, Zhang C, Xiang Y, Zen K, Li L. Loss of microglial SIRP? promotes synaptic pruning in preclinical models of neurodegeneration. Nat Commun. 2021 04 01; 12(1):2030. PMID: 33795678.
      Citations: 14     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    7. Woolums BM, McCray BA, Sung H, Tabuchi M, Sullivan JM, Ruppell KT, Yang Y, Mamah C, Aisenberg WH, Saavedra-Rivera PC, Larin BS, Lau AR, Robinson DN, Xiang Y, Wu MN, Sumner CJ, Lloyd TE. TRPV4 disrupts mitochondrial transport and causes axonal degeneration via a CaMKII-dependent elevation of intracellular Ca2. Nat Commun. 2020 05 29; 11(1):2679. PMID: 32471994.
      Citations: 18     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    8. Gu P, Gong J, Shang Y, Wang F, Ruppell KT, Ma Z, Sheehan AE, Freeman MR, Xiang Y. Polymodal Nociception in Drosophila Requires Alternative Splicing of TrpA1. Curr Biol. 2019 12 02; 29(23):3961-3973.e6. PMID: 31735672.
      Citations: 10     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    9. Song Y, Li D, Farrelly O, Miles L, Li F, Kim SE, Lo TY, Wang F, Li T, Thompson-Peer KL, Gong J, Murthy SE, Coste B, Yakubovich N, Patapoutian A, Xiang Y, Rompolas P, Jan LY, Jan YN. The Mechanosensitive Ion Channel Piezo Inhibits Axon Regeneration. Neuron. 2019 04 17; 102(2):373-389.e6. PMID: 30819546.
      Citations: 42     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    10. Yan C, Wang F, Peng Y, Williams CR, Jenkins B, Wildonger J, Kim HJ, Perr JB, Vaughan JC, Kern ME, Falvo MR, O'Brien ET, Superfine R, Tuthill JC, Xiang Y, Rogers SL, Parrish JZ. Microtubule Acetylation Is Required for Mechanosensation in Drosophila. Cell Rep. 2018 10 23; 25(4):1051-1065.e6. PMID: 30355484.
      Citations: 16     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    11. Zhang P, Li M, Chiang CW, Wang L, Xiang Y, Cheng L, Feng W, Schleyer TK, Quinney SK, Wu HY, Zeng D, Li L. Three-Component Mixture Model-Based Adverse Drug Event Signal Detection for the Adverse Event Reporting System. CPT Pharmacometrics Syst Pharmacol. 2018 08; 7(8):499-506. PMID: 30091855.
      Citations: 4     Fields:    Translation:Humans
    12. Guntur AR, Gou B, Gu P, He R, Stern U, Xiang Y, Yang CH. H2O2-Sensitive Isoforms of Drosophila melanogaster TRPA1 Act in Bitter-Sensing Gustatory Neurons to Promote Avoidance of UV During Egg-Laying. Genetics. 2017 02; 205(2):749-759. PMID: 27932542.
      Citations: 13     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    13. Wu X, Zhang Y, Takle K, Bilsel O, Li Z, Lee H, Zhang Z, Li D, Fan W, Duan C, Chan EM, Lois C, Xiang Y, Han G. Dye-Sensitized Core/Active Shell Upconversion Nanoparticles for Optogenetics and Bioimaging Applications. ACS Nano. 2016 Jan 26; 10(1):1060-6. PMID: 26736013.
      Citations: 57     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    14. Im SH, Takle K, Jo J, Babcock DT, Ma Z, Xiang Y, Galko MJ. Tachykinin acts upstream of autocrine Hedgehog signaling during nociceptive sensitization in Drosophila. Elife. 2015 Nov 17; 4:e10735. PMID: 26575288.
      Citations: 31     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    15. Guntur AR, Gu P, Takle K, Chen J, Xiang Y, Yang CH. Drosophila TRPA1 isoforms detect UV light via photochemical production of H2O2. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Oct 20; 112(42):E5753-61. PMID: 26443856.
      Citations: 32     Fields:    Translation:HumansAnimalsCells
    16. Laurent B, Ruitu L, Murn J, Hempel K, Ferrao R, Xiang Y, Liu S, Garcia BA, Wu H, Wu F, Steen H, Shi Y. A specific LSD1/KDM1A isoform regulates neuronal differentiation through H3K9 demethylation. Mol Cell. 2015 Mar 19; 57(6):957-970. PMID: 25684206.
      Citations: 113     Fields:    Translation:HumansCells
    17. Yang L, Li R, Kaneko T, Takle K, Morikawa RK, Essex L, Wang X, Zhou J, Emoto K, Xiang Y, Ye B. Trim9 regulates activity-dependent fine-scale topography in Drosophila. Curr Biol. 2014 May 05; 24(9):1024-30. PMID: 24746793.
      Citations: 13     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    18. Yan Z, Zhang W, He Y, Gorczyca D, Xiang Y, Cheng LE, Meltzer S, Jan LY, Jan YN. Drosophila NOMPC is a mechanotransduction channel subunit for gentle-touch sensation. Nature. 2013 Jan 10; 493(7431):221-5. PMID: 23222543.
      Citations: 133     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    19. Yan, Z. *, Zhang, W. *, He, Y., Gorczyca, D., Xiang, Y., Cheng, L., Meltzer, S., Jan, L.Y., & Jan, Y.N. NompC is a pore-forming subunit of a mechanotransduction channel for sensing gentle touch in Drosophila. Nature. 2012; (In press).
    20. Yuan Q, Xiang Y, Yan Z, Han C, Jan LY, Jan YN. Light-induced structural and functional plasticity in Drosophila larval visual system. Science. 2011 Sep 09; 333(6048):1458-62. PMID: 21903815.
      Citations: 47     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    21. Yuan, Q., Xiang, Y., Yan, Z.Q., Han, C., Jan, L.Y., & Jan, Y.N. Light induced structural and functional plasticity in Drosophila larval visual System. Science. 2011; 333:1458-1462.
    22. Xiang Y, Yuan Q, Vogt N, Looger LL, Jan LY, Jan YN. Light-avoidance-mediating photoreceptors tile the Drosophila larval body wall. Nature. 2010 Dec 16; 468(7326):921-6. PMID: 21068723.
      Citations: 206     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    23. Xiang, Y., Yuan, Q., Vogt, N., Looger, L. L., Jan, L. Y. and Jan, Y. N. Light-avoidance-mediating photoreceptors tile the Drosophila larval body wall. Nature. 2010; 468:921-926. (research article).
    24. Yang CH, Rumpf S, Xiang Y, Gordon MD, Song W, Jan LY, Jan YN. Control of the postmating behavioral switch in Drosophila females by internal sensory neurons. Neuron. 2009 Feb 26; 61(4):519-26. PMID: 19249273.
      Citations: 126     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    25. Yang, C., Rumpf, S., Xiang, Y., Gordon, M. D., Song, W., Scott, K., Jan, L. Y. and Jan, Y. N. . Control of post-mating behavior switch in Drosophila females by internal sensory neurons. Neuron. 2009; 61:519-526.
    26. Xiang Y, Rybin VO, Steinberg SF, Kobilka B. Caveolar localization dictates physiologic signaling of beta 2-adrenoceptors in neonatal cardiac myocytes. J Biol Chem. 2002 Sep 13; 277(37):34280-6. PMID: 12097322.
      Citations: 79     Fields:    Translation:AnimalsCells
    27. Xiang, Y., Li, Y., Zhang, Z., Cui, K., Wang, S., Yuan, X., Wu, C., Poo, M. and Duan, S. Nerve growth cone guidance mediated by G protein-coupled receptors. Nature Neuroscience. 2002; 5:843-848.
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