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Prof. Kee Jung Yoon’s Research Team Investigates How Stress Hormones Help Brain Formation Process 2022.11.30
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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

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