Research Stories

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  • A Novel Mechanism for the Regulation of Lung Cancer Progression by Cereblon (CRBN) Medicine
    Prof. LEE, KI YOUNG
    Mi Jung Kim, Ji Soo Lee, Ji Young Kim

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    A Novel Mechanism for the Regulation of Lung Cancer Progression by Cereblon (CRBN)
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    World's first development of ultrahigh temporal resolution brain neuronal activity imaging technology that can see... Biomedical Engineering
    Prof. PARK, JANGYEON

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    World's first development of ultrahigh temporal resolution brain neuronal activity imaging technology  that can see...

Research News

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  • 융합생명공학과 윤기정 교수
    Prof. Kee Jung Yoon’s Research Team Investigates How Stress Hormones Help Brain Formation Process

    Prof. Kee Jung Yoon’s (Department of Integrative Biotechnology) Research Team Investigated How Stress Hormones Help Brain Formation Process ▲ Prof. Kee Jung Yoon (Department of Integrative Biotechnology) / Dr. Mookwang Kwon Prof. Kee Jung Yoon’s (Department of Integrative Biotechnology) research team found that CRH hormones that induce stress reactions in adults improve stemness in nerve stem cells, helping the formation process of the brain. The stress stimulus reactions such as blood pressure increase and suppressed digestive function in our bodies before an important test/interview begins with the secretion of corticotropin-releasing hormone (abbrev. CRH). The CRH hormone was originally known to be important in inducing adult biological activities but was recently discovered to be also found in brain tissues of the early embryogenesis phase, creating many research potentials about its reasons. The research team found that the CRH hormone signaling system contributes to the brain development process by improving the self-proliferation ability of nerve stem cells, which are important for brain formation. The leader of this research, Prof. Yoon said, “In comparison to humans, a talented semiconductor company researcher turns out to be a famous musical actor in the evening. The significance of this study is that the same protein can perform many unique functions as a multiplayer depending on the timing and location of expression.” Based on the results of this study, it is expected that by regulating the activity of the CRH hormone signaling system, the technology required for effective neural stem cell culture can be secured, providing important ideas for stem cell treatment for degenerative neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's dementia and Parkinson's disease. Prof. Yoon's findings were published in EMBO Reports, a world-renowned journal in molecular cell biology This study was conducted as a mid-sized research support project supported by the Ministry of Science and ICT and the Korea Research Foundation and a four-stage Brain Korea 21 (BK21) project, with Professor Yoon as the corresponding author and Dr. Mookwang Kwon (SKKU Department of Integrative Biotechnology, currently at University of California Santa Barbara) as the first author. ▲ In the embryonic brain, the receptor of CRH hormone, CRHR1, expressing cell exists more on VZ/SVZ area, where neural stem cells exist, and the marker of the stem cells, SOX2 proteins, are being shown through immunostaining ▲ Increased phosphorylation of CREB and REST gene expression by CRH hormones to inhibit differentiation of nerve stem cells and increase self-proliferation

    2022-11-30

  • 행정학과 이동성 교수
    Prof. Dong Seong Lee Investigates the Effect of Authoritarian/Colonial History on Political Stability

    Prof. Dong Seong Lee (Department of Public Administration) Investigates the Effect of Authoritarian/Colonial History on Political Stability - Introduced in the global journal ‘The Economist’ - The first to conduct scientific research on political stability in Asia regions ▲ Prof. Dong Seong Lee (Department of Public Administration) / Prof. Fernando Casal Bertoa (Nottingham University) Prof. Dong Seong Lee (Department of Public Administration) announced a research result about the effect of authoritarianism and colonial history on political stability after democratization for all of the democratic countries in Asia including Korea. Prof. Lee published the research in the internationally renowned academic journal in the party politics field, ‘Party Politics’. Prof. Lee was selected as the Fellow of England’s biggest research funding foundation, The Leverhulme Trust, for proceeding with such research. In the research field of politics, the history before democratization is discussed to have a major influence on political stability after democratization. However, it has not been precisely identified through systematic research on ‘what effect’ historical facts will have in detail for ‘how long’. This research sets its focus on a representative parameter for measuring political stability, and electoral volatility, to look at how long past authoritarianism and colonial history had their effect. This research databased all 154 parliament elections results after democratization for 18 democratic countries in Asia including Korea starting from 1948, right after World War II to 2017 for 70 years in panel format and analyzed short, mid, and long-term influence after categorizing colonial history & authoritarianism into 7 types (4 for authoritarianism and 3 for colonial history). For authoritarian histories such as Taiwan and Mongolia which established themselves based on strong authoritarian parties, the political stability right after authoritarian history is higher than military authoritarian histories like Korea or an individual dictatorship like the Philippines but extracted a result that as the history of democracy extends over 60 years, the difference between different types of authoritarian history fades away. On the other hand, in the case of colonial history, as discussed in the field of political history research, it was found that British colonies had higher political stability than those of non-British colonies of other countries, but for the countries that recently experienced democratization (e.g., Indonesia, East Timor, etc.), political stability was higher than the former. This study concludes that the future of Asian democracy and political stability ultimately depends on the will of political leaders and voters to overcome authoritarian and colonial history. This study was conducted in collaboration with Fernando Casal Bertoa, a professor of political science at Nottingham University in the UK, and the results were introduced not only in weekly magazines such as The Economist ("Democracy declined across Asia in 2021") but also in academic blogs and reports such as East Asia Forum ("The future of democracy and rise of authoritarianism in Asia") and East Asia Institute ADRN Issue Briefing ("How Authoritarian Legacies Play a Role in Shaping Electoral Volatility in Asia"). ※ Paper Title: On the Causes of Electoral Volatility in Asia since 1948 ※ Journal: Party Politics ※ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/13540688211046858

    2022-11-23

  • 심리학과 김민우 교수
    Prof. Minue Kim (Department of Psychology) Tracks the ‘Emotional Changes’ in K-pop Lyrics

    Prof. Minue Kim (Department of Psychology) Tracks the ‘Emotional Changes’ in K-pop Lyrics - Frequency Analysis of morpheme in lyrics that has positive/negative meaning - In the recent three decades, positivity ↑, negativity ↓ - Opposite trend compared to the West ▲ Prof. Minue Kim (SKKU Department of Psychology) / Prof. Wonkwang Jo (SNU Graduate School of Public Health) Prof. Minue Kim (Department of Psychology)’s research team has announced a research result that the emotions and sentiments included in lyrics of K-pop hit songs have changed consistently. Prof. Kim published such research in the psychology field’s international academic journal, Emotion. (IF: 5.56) Popular songs, especially so-called hits that many people enjoy, contain emotions that members of society prefer and experience. Therefore, by analyzing K-pop hits, we can see how the emotional preference of Koreans have changed, and how this aspect is related to the social and cultural changes in Korea. The international status of K-pop has risen significantly in recent years, and it is no longer the exclusive property of domestic fans as it became worthy of its title, mainstream music. As more people over the world enjoy listening to K-pop, researching K-pop hits has become to have more global implications. Prof. Kim’s research team employed Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithm and text mining to analyze the emotions behind the lyrics of K-pop hit songs. To be specific, the frequency of positive/negative morphemes in song lyrics was analyzed, and used computational and scientific techniques such as 'topic modeling' to identify how many topics containing specific emotions exist. As a result of almost 3000 K-pop hit songs that have reached the Top 100 charts of Melon starting from the 1990s to 2019, the research team confirmed a trend where more positivity is included in lyrics and a constant decrease in negativity in the last three decades. Surprisingly, this trend is very opposite to the emotional change trend shown in Western hit songs, within the same time period, including US and UK. The research team said that this stark difference is due to changes in Korea's socio-cultural characteristics over the past 30 years. In the U.S. and Britain, having originally individualistic cultures, individualistic tendencies became stronger, highlighting the shortcomings of individualistic cultures such as narcissism and selfishness, and this fact is reflected as negative emotions in the lyrics of hit songs. On the other hand, over the past 30 years in Korea, originally a collectivist culture, the advantages of individualism culture are shown on the front, such as encouraging efforts to achieve individual dreams and goals. K-pop hits also reveal more positive emotions that contain individual confidence and pride. Aligned with this, it is interpreted that Korea's economic power and purchasing power, which grew rapidly at the same time, also influenced the more positive emotions contained in the lyrics of K-pop hit songs. This study has the implication that results with socio-cultural implications can be derived through calculation and scientific analysis of natural language databases such as song lyrics. This research was conducted in cooperation with Prof. Wonkwang Jo of Seoul National University Graduate School of Public Health. ※ Paper Title: Tracking emotions from song lyrics: Analyzing 30 years of K-pop hits ※ Journal: Emotion ※ DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/emo0001185

    2022-11-16

  • 성균관대학교
    The World’s First Development of Ultra high Speed Neuronal Activity Imaging Technology

    The World’s First Development of Ultrahigh Speed Neuronal Activity Imaging Technology - Objective and Quantitative Evaluation of Mental Disorder or Cognitive Damage in Degenerative Brain Disease Prof. Jangyeon Park’s research team (Department of Biomedical Engineering) has developed the world’s first future-generation brain function imaging technology which can visualize neuronal activities in ultrahigh resolution with millisecond precision. The major verification of suggested high-speed neuronal activity imaging technology was conducted in cooperation with Prof. Jeehyun Kwag’s (Korea University) electrophysiology research team. Advanced noninvasive neuroimaging methods provide valuable information on the brain’s functional organization. However, the most widely used noninvasive neuroimaging methods such as functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), Electro Encephalo Graphy (EEG), and Magneto Encephalo Graphy (MEG) have clear merits and demerits in terms of temporal/spatial resolution which reacts as an important limitation in investigating brain in vivo. For example, EEG and MEG provide excellent temporal resolution (~millisecond), but spatial information is limited (~centimeter). On the other hand, fMRI using the blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) effect provides high spatial resolution (~millimeters) but its temporal resolution is limited (~second) and can only provide indirect neural activity information based on hemodynamic responses. Prof. Park’s research team expected that if magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with milliseconds temporal resolution close to nerve action potential difference time is demonstrated, direct imaging and measurement of neuronal activity can be rendered possible. Thus, they presented milliseconds of high temporal resolution MRI by using the method of splitting the imaging data. The research team used this method to implement direct imaging of neuronal activities in high temporal & spatial resolution at the same time as imaging the process of neural activities being transported in neural networks. Also, they suggested an important hypothesis related to the new signaling pathway of direct neural activity images. The research team demonstrated the ultrahigh-speed neuronal activity imaging technology through animal MRI in the vivo mouse brain at 9.4 teslas. Electrical stimulation was applied periodically to the whisker pad of anesthetized mice to obtain time-series neural activity imaging of 0.22 mm spatial resolution and 5 milliseconds temporal resolution, including the thalamus and primary somatosensory cortex (S1) and confirmed neural activity reactions at 20-25 milliseconds. Moreover, they also confirmed neural reaction at the thalamus between 10-15 milliseconds before neural activity reaction at S1, and through this, they visualized how neurotransmission occurs over time on the thalamic-cortical neurotransmission pathway through the thalamus to S1. Also, with this new signaling pathway of ultrahigh-speed neural activity imaging, the team suggested Changes in T2 relaxation time according to changes in cell membrane displacement during neural actions. The high temporal/spatial resolution in vivo brain neural activity imaging technology suggested by the research team is the future generation brain function imaging technology that can show how neural activity signals are transmitted in brain neural networks along with direct imaging of neural activity by visualizing neural activities in vivo brain with milliseconds resolution. Through this future-generation brain function imaging technique, an almost real dynamic brain neural network model that can reflect and represent how brain functions are being performed in various cognitive processes can be demonstrated. In clinical aspects, by making the objective and quantitative evaluation of cognitive impairment or mental illness in degenerative brain disease possible, it contributes to the current trend of modern medical science, individually customized precision diagnosis. Prof. Park said, “This study is very meaningful in that it implements neural activity images in vivo with high temporal and spatial resolution, which has been a long-cherished desire in the field of brain function imaging. In particular, the ability to image the activation and transmission of neural activity in a brain neural network with ultrahigh temporal resolution means that the brain neural network can visualize the flow of information, or the flow of thought, according to the cognitive process. Through this, we can achieve a deep, practical understanding of the ‘thinking brain’ by identifying the hierarchical connection structure of brain function. If it is verified to be applicable to humans as well, this will be the ‘Game Changer’ in the brain sciences field.” The research results have been published in the international journal ‘Science’ (IF: 47.728) as a Research Article and have also been posted in the commentary article ‘Perspectives’ which comments on noteworthy research papers. Along with the publication of the thesis, Nature news also covered an article about the thesis and the same for The Scientist (UK) and STAT News (USA). ※ Paper Title: “In vivo direct imaging of neuronal activity at high temporo-spatial resolution” ※ Science, https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.abh4340 [Figure 1] High temporospatial resolution DIANA captures thalamocortical spike propagation (A) Illustration of the DIANA experiment to image the contralateral S1BF and thalamus by applying electrical stimulation to the left whisker pad in an anesthetized mouse on a 9.4-T scanner (right) and brain imaging of a coronal slice containing both thalamus and S1BF regions (left). (B) BOLD activation map obtained as a reference (n = 10 mice). (C to E) Time series of t-value maps of DIANA for 30ms after electrical whisker-pad stimulation in 5-ms temporal resolution from five mice (C), percent changes in DIANA signals (D), and a bar graph showing the mean latencies of peak DIANA responses from the thalamus (green) and contralateral S1BF (magenta) (E) (n = 10 mice, ****p < 0.0001 for paired Student’s t-test). (F) Illustration of electrophysiological recording in mice in vivo with silicon probes implanted in the thalamus and contralateral S1BF applying electrical whisker-pad stimulation (top) and electrode track marking using a fluorescent lipophilic dye (DiI) (bottom). (G and H) MUA (black trace, top) from which single-unit spikes (bottom) were analyzed in the thalamus (green) (G) and the contralateral S1BF (magenta) (H). [Figure 2] Sublayer-specific DIANA responses reveal functionally distinct sublayer-specific microcircuits (A and B) Illustration of the DIANA experiment (A) and in vivo spike recording (B) in the VPMd, VPMv, POm, S1BF, and S2 in response to electrical whisker-pad stimulation. Yellow dotted boxes in [(A), right] indicate extraction areas of DIANA heatmaps. (C) Heatmap (left) and temporal profile (middle) for the percent change in the DIANA signal, displayed with the mean latency of peak DIANA response from the VPMd (dark green), VPMv (green), and POm (light green) (right) (n = 9 mice). (D) Heatmap of in vivo–recorded single-unit spike firing rate normalized to the peak spike firing rate (left) and temporal profile of spike firing rate (middle), displayed with the mean latency of peak spike firing rate in the VPMd (dark green, n = 22 units from 16 mice), VPMv (green, n = 15 units from 16 mice), and POm (light green, n = 59 units from 14 mice) (right). (E and F) Same as (C) and (D) but for DIANA experiments (n = 9 mice) and spikes recorded from S1BF in L2/3 (light pink, n = 9 units from 28 mice), L4 (pink, n = 51 units from 28 mice), L5 (magenta, n = 60 units from 28 mice), and L6 (dark magenta, n = 18 units from 28 mice). (G and H) Same as (C) and (D) but for DIANA experiments (n = 9 mice) and spikes recorded from S2 in L2/3 (light orange, n = 6 units from 20 mice), L4 (orange, n = 27 units from 20 mice), L5 (brown, n = 35 units from 20 mice), and L6 (dark brown, n = 14 units from 20 mice). The base in DIANA heatmaps indicates the average of prestimulation frames. The asterisk in the middle panels of (C) and (E) indicates the statistically significant negative signal. All data are means ± SEM. *p < 0.05, **p < 0.01, ****p < 0.0001, and n.s. is p > 0.05 for paired Student’s t test, unpaired Student’s t-test, and Welch’s t-test.

    2022-10-19

  • 성균관대학교
    Prof. Minue Kim’s Research Team Identified the Characteristics of Nervous Circuits in the Anxious Brain

    Prof. Minue Kim’s Research Team (Department of Psychology) Identified the Characteristics of Nervous Circuits in the Anxious Brain [Image] Prof. Minue Kim, Master’s degree student Wonyoung Kim (from the left) A research team led by Prof. Minue Kim (Department of Psychology) has released a study that reveals the relationship between anxiety and neural circuits in the brain. Prof. Kim and Wonyoung Kim, a master’s student, published their research on this topic in the international scientific journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences’ (IF: 12.78). It is known that people who feel anxious easily have weakened neural circuits linking the amygdala and the prefrontal cortex, which are responsible for processing emotional information and controlling emotions. However, some studies suggest that people with weaker neural circuits may feel less anxious. Previously, there was a limitation in that only the connectivity between brain regions was dealt with without considering the shape and size of neural circuits that are slightly different for each person. In other words, various characteristics of neural circuits could not be captured, and only one characteristic was abbreviated to a single dimension and used. To solve this problem, Prof. Kim’s research team newly proposed the concept of ‘Canvas Space’, making it possible to directly compare the morphological characteristics of each person’s unique neural circuits in a common space. In this study, the relationship between neural circuits and anxiety was analyzed using mathematical models inspired by the first sentence of Lev Tolstoy’s novel , “All happy families are alike, but unhappy families are unhappy in different ways.” In other words, the neural circuits of people with low anxiety levels are all similar, but the neural circuits of people with high anxiety levels are hypothesized and verified to have different forms. Through the representative similarity analysis method, it was confirmed that people with low anxiety levels had similar neural circuit shapes, and on the contrary, people with high anxiety levels had different neural circuit shapes. These results were equally observed in the brains of young people aged 20-35 years and elderly people aged 60-75 years, drawing the conclusion that it was an anxious brain characteristic regardless of age and aging. Prof. Kim said, “This study found that the morphological characteristics of neural circuits, which have traditionally been considered as an obstacle to be removed to analyze the connectivity of neural circuits, make an important contribution to explaining individual differences in anxiety. It is expected to be applied to the diagnosis and prognosis of pathological anxiety such as anxiety disorders in the future.” ※ Paper Title: Morphological similarity of amygdala-ventral prefrontal pathways represents trait anxiety in younger and older adults (Journal: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences(PNAS)) ※ DOI: https://www.pnas.org/doi/10.1073/pnas.2205162119)

    2022-10-11

  • 성균관대학교
    Prof. Jae-Seong Lee Discovers Epigenetic Plasticity is Related to Copepod’s Ocean Acidification Adaptation

    Prof. Jae-Seong Lee (Department of Biological Sciences) Discovers Epigenetic Plasticity is Related to Copepod’s Ocean Acidification Adaptation [Image] (from the left) Prof. Jae-Seong Lee, Dr. Yeong-Hwan Lee (first co-author and corresponding author), Min Sub Kim (first co-author) Prof. Jae-Seong Lee (Department of Biological Sciences)’s research team (Dr. Yeong-Hwan Lee (first co-author and corresponding author) and Combined Master’s & Ph.D. program course Min Sub Kim (first co-author)) revealed the relationship between epigenetic plasticity and copepod’s recovery process after multiple generations of negative reproduction due to exposal to ocean acidification. The research team asserted that the oceans are becoming more acidic as atmospheric CO2 densities are increasing and such acidification of oceans will have a great impact on the ocean’s ecosystem. Among many issues, a noticeable decrease in the copepod’s reproductive ability is observed which in the long term will affect the sustainability of the species and the nutritional epidemiology aspect of the ocean ecosystem. The research team proceeded multigeneration ocean acidification exposure experiment using Paracyclopina nana, which resulted in the discovery that negative change and sex ratio observed in the parent’s generation (F0) were not observed in the subsequent generations (F2 and afterward). Ocean epigenetics is gathering attention as the method for analyzing marine organisms’ fast adaptation process in dynamic ocean environments. Thus, by using copepods which has a short period of one generation (about 2 weeks), the team investigated DNA methylation pattern and transcriptome changes due to ocean acidification and through observation in vivo experiments, analyzed the epigenetic role inherent in the recovery of reproductive ability. The research team showed that DNA methylation-level epigenetic modification can play an important role in the adaptation of copepods to future climate changes and also emphasized the necessity for considering epigenetic plasticity when assessing copepod’s future vulnerability to environmental stress caused by CO2 increase. Prof. Lee, said, “This research overcame technological utility limits of small sized nonmodeled species (smaller than 0.6mm) and has its significance in revealing the causality between copepod’s multigeneration exposure to ocean acidification and epigenetic transformation along with their functional result analysis. We can expect some research in functional relevance of DNA methylation for tracking environment parameters that affect development & growth of the marine organism.” This research was conducted with the support of the Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries' Multi-Department Genomic Project, Marine Biotics Development Project and Korea Research Foundation’s Support for basic and Mid-sized Research Projects. The research results are published online in a global academic journal for the environment field, the Nature Clime Change (IF 28.660, JCR top 0.78%, 1/127) on September 29th (Thu.) * Paper Title: Epigenetic plasticity enables copepods to cope with ocean acidification * DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41558-022-01477-4

    2022-10-05