Yulong L. Chen
Binghamton University, USA
Yulong Chen is an assistant professor of biological sciences at the State University of New York at Binghamton. His research focuses on intracellular signaling and epigenetic regulation in neuronal and cancer cells. Prior to being at Binghamton, Dr. Chen investigated opioid receptor gene regulation and the molecular basis for targeting PI3K/Akt signaling for cancer therapy at the University of Minnesota. He earned his PhD from the Johns Hopkins University and did his postdoctoral fellowship at Harvard Medical School. He has published more than 20 papers in international peer-reviewed journals.
Opioids are some of the most effective painkillers. Morphine, the prototypic opioid, has been used to treat pain for thousands of years. The chronic usage of opioid painkillers could lead to drug tolerance and dependence. In fact, prescription opioid painkiller abuse has become one of the main problems of drug abuse in USA. The molecular mechanisms of action of opioids are not completely understood. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms will eventually provide novel molecular targets for the prevention and treatment of opioid drug addiction. Our laboratory has focused on the crosstalk between receptor tyrosine kinase signaling and opioid receptor signaling and on signaling-mediated epigenetic regulation of genes that are relevant to cell survival, growth, differentiation as well as the development of drug addiction. Our results show that the crosstalk converges in the nucleus at least in part through PI3K/Akt and NF-B signaling, resulting in epigenetic regulation of neurotrophin and opioid-responsive genes. Together, these results indicate that both PI3K/Akt/NF-КB signaling and epige¬netic regulation are an integral part of the molecular mechanisms of action of opioids.