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LI, Yulong
Office Address: LUI CHE WOO BUILDING,Peking University, No.5 Yiheyuan Road, Haidian District,Beijing, P.R.China 100871
Lab Address: LUI CHE WOO BUILDING,Peking University, No.5 Yiheyuan Road, Haidian District,Beijing, P.R.China 100871
Lab Homepage: http://www.yulonglilab.org
Personal Homepage: http://
Honors and Awards
XPLORER PRIZE in Life Sciences, 2019
The National Science Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars, 2019
The 12th Tan Jiazhen Life Science Innovation Award, 2019
Zhang Xiangtong Neuroscience Young Scientist Award, 2019
Research was selected into the Top Ten Progress of Life Sciences in China, 2018
Research was selected into the Top Ten News of Medical Science and Technology in China, 2018
VCANBIO Award for Innovations and Breakthrough in Life Sciences and Medicine, 2018
PKU & Boehringer-Ingelheim Faculty Research Award, 2018
“Green Leaf Eminent Young Scholar” Fellowship, Luye Pharma Group Co.,Ltd, 2015

Professional Society Affiliations
2019- present, Journal of Neurochemistry, Handling Editor
2018- present, Society of Chinese Bioscientists in America, Member
2001- present, Society for Neurosciences, Member
Research Interests
The human brain consists of billions of neurons, which connected to form networks by trillions of synapses. The interplay between distinct neuronal types through synapses by long range projections and short range local connections leads to cognitive brain functions such as perception, decision making and motor control.
The biggest challenge to study brain is its complexity. Our lab’s research centers on “synapse”, the fundamental unit for the communication between brain cells, called neurons. We carry two layers of research: first, we develop cutting edge research tools, namely advanced imaging probes, to untangle the complexity of nervous system in space and in time; second, capitalizing on the advancement of research toolkits, we study the regulation of synaptic transmission, focusing on the modulation of presynaptic transmitter release in health (e.g. sleep) and in disease conditions (e.g. neurodegenerative disease).
Specifically, for tool development, we focus on:
1, Development of non-invasive systems for opto-genetic mapping of electric synapses, a basic connection type between neurons. The malfunction of electric synapses could lead to devastating diseases such as deaf, heart problems, epilepsy and brain tumors.
2, Development of genetically-encoded sensors for imaging neurotransmitters/modulators. Those transmitters or modulators are crucial mediators for chemical synaptic transmission, important for our perception, learning/memory and our emotion.
Taking advantage of the above imaging sensors and additional, our functional studies are concentrating on:
1, Combined 2-photon imaging and genetically-encoded probes, studying how high brain centers are controlled during perception (olfaction) or sleep using fly and mice as model systems.
2, Matching the above novel chemical transmitters/ modulators with their cognate receptors: deorphanization of orphan receptors.
3, Exploration, identification and characterization of potential novel small molecule transmitters by a combination of bioinformatics, analytical chemistry, biochemistry, physiology and imaging approaches.
Representative Peer-Reviewed Publications
Main Research Articles

· Sun, F.#, Zhou, J.#, Dai, B.#, Qian, T., Zeng, J., Li, X., Zhuo, Y., Zhang, Y., Wang, Y., Qian, C., Tan, K., Feng, J., Dong, H., Lin, D.*, Cui, G.*, & Li, Y.*.(2020). Next-generation GRAB sensors for monitoring dopaminergic activity in vivo. Nature Methods, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41592-020-00981-9.
· Jing, M.*, Li, Y., Zeng, J., Huang, P., Skirzewski, M., Kljakic, O., Peng, W., Qian, T., Tan, K., Wu, R., Zhang, S., Pan, S., Xu, M., Li, H., Saksida, L. M., Prado, V. F., Bussey, T., Prado, M. A. M., Chen, L., Cheng, H., Li, Y.*.(2020). An optimized acetylcholine sensor for monitoring in vivo cholinergic activity. Nature Methods, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41592-020-0953-2.
· Yu, H., Zhao, T., Liu, S., Wu, Q., Johnson, O., Wu, Z., Zhuang, Z., Shi, Y., He, R., Yang, Y., Sun, J., Wang, X., Xu, H., Zeng, Z., Lei, X., Luo, W.* & Li, Y.*. (2019). MRGPRX4 is a bile acid receptor for human cholestatic itch. eLife, 8, e48431.
· Feng, J., Zhang, C., Lischinsky, J. E., Jing, M., Zhou, J., Wang, H., Zhang, Y., Dong, A., Wu, Z., Wu, H., Chen, W., Zhang, P., Zou, J., Hires, S. A., Zhu, J. J., Cui, G., Lin, D., Du, J. & Li, Y.* (2019). A Genetically Encoded Fluorescent Sensor for Rapid and Specific In Vivo Detection of Norepinephrine. Neuron, 102(4), 745-761.
· Wu, Z.#, Feng, J.#, Jing, M., & Li, Y.* (2019). G protein-assisted optimization of GPCR-activation based (GRAB) sensors. Neural Imaging and Sensing 2019, vol. 10865, p. 108650N. International Society for Optics and Photonics.
· Wu, L., Dong, A., Dong, L., Wang, S. Q., & Li, Y*. (2019). PARIS, an optogenetic method for functionally mapping gap junctions. eLife, 8, e43366.
· Sun, F.#, Zeng, J.#, Jing, M.#, Zhou, J., Feng, J., Owen, S., Luo, Y., Li, F., Wang, H., Yamaguchi, T., Yong, Z., Gao, Y., Peng, W., Wang, L., Zhang, S., Du, J., Lin, D., Xu, M., Kreitzer, A. C., Cui, G. & Li, Y.* (2018). A genetically-encoded fluorescent sensor enables rapid and specific detection of dopamine in flies, fish, and mice. Cell, 174(2), 481-496.
· Jing, M.#, Zhang, P.#, Wang, G., Feng, J., Mesik, L., Zeng, J., Jiang, H., Wang, S., Looby, J. C., Guagliardo, N. A., Langma, L. W., Lu, J., Zuo, Y., Talmage, D. A., Role, L. W., Barrett, P. Q., Zhang, L. I., Luo, M., Song, Y., Zhu, JJ* & Li, Y*. (2018). A genetically-encoded fluorescent acetylcholine indicator for in vitro and in vivo studies. Nature Biotechnology, 36(8), 726-737.
· Li, Y.*, & Tsien, R. W.* (2012). pHTomato, a red, genetically encoded indicator that enables multiplex interrogation of synaptic activity. Nature neuroscience, 15(7), 1047-1053.
· Li, Y., Augustine, G. J., & Weninger, K.* (2007). Kinetics of complexin binding to the SNARE complex: correcting single molecule FRET measurements for hidden events. Biophysical journal, 93(6), 2178-2187.

Collaborative Publications

· Wang, J.#, Li, J.#, Yang, Q.#, Xie, Y.-K., Wen, Y.-L., Xu, Z.-Z., Li, Y., Xu, T., Wu, Z.-Y., Duan, S., & Xu, H.* (2021). Basal forebrain mediates prosocial behavior via disinhibition of midbrain dopamine neurons. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences,118(7), e2019295118. https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2019295118。
· Song, Y., Xu, C., Liu, J., Li, Y., Wang, H., Shan, D., Wainer Irving, W., Hu, X., Zhang, Y.*, Woo Anthony, Y.-H.*, & Xiao, R.-P. Heterodimerization with 5-HT2BR Is Indispensable for β2AR-mediated Cardioprotection. Circulation Research, https://doi.org/10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.120.317011。
· Zhu, R.#, Zhang, G.#, Jing, M., Han, Y., Li, J., Zhao, J., Li, Y., & Chen, P. R.* (2021, 2021/01/25). Genetically encoded formaldehyde sensors inspired by a protein intra-helical crosslinking reaction. Nature Communications,,12(1), 581. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-20754-4。
· Mayer, F. P., Iwamoto, H., Hahn, M. K., Grumbar, G. J., Stewart, A., Li, Y., & Blakely, R. D.* (2021). There`s no place like home? Return to the home cage triggers dopamine release in the mouse nucleus accumbens. Neurochemistry International, 142, 104894. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuint.2020.104894
· Bari*, A., Xu, S., Pignatelli, M., Takeuchi, D., Feng, J., Li, Y., & Tonegawa, S.* (2020). Differential attentional control mechanisms by two distinct noradrenergic coeruleo-frontal cortical pathways. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, https://doi.org/10.1073/pnas.2015635117。
· Kim, H. R.*, Malik, A. N., Mikhael, J. G., Bech, P., Tsutsui-Kimura, I., Sun, F., Zhang, Y., Li, Y., Watabe-Uchida, M., Gershman, S. J., & Uchida, N.* (2020). A Unified Framework for Dopamine Signals across Timescales. Cell, https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cell.2020.11.013。
· Crouse,R. B., Kim, K., Batchelor, H. M., Kamaletdinova, R., Chan, J., Rajebhosale, P., Pittenger, S. T., Role, L. W., Talmage, D A., Jing, M. , Li, Y., Gao, X., Mineur , Y. S., & Picciotto, M. R. * (2020). Acetylcholine is released in the basolateral amygdala in response to predictors of reward and enhances learning of cue-reward contingency. eLife, 9:e57335.
· Kwak, H., Koh, W., Kim, S., Song, K., Shin, J., Lee, J. M., Lee, E. H., Bae, J. Y., Ha, G. E., Oh, J. Park, Y. M., Kim, S., Feng, J., Lee, S. E., Choi, J. W., Kim, K. H., Kim, Y. S., Woo, J., Lee, D., Son, T., Kwon, S. W., Park, K. D., Yoon, B. Lee, J., Li, Y. , Lee, H., Bae, Y. C., Lee, C. J.* & Cheong, E.* (2020). Astrocytes Control Sensory Acuity via Tonic Inhibition in the Thalamus. Neuron, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2020.08.013.
·Peng, W.#, Wu, Z.#, Kun, S.#, Zhang, S., Li, Y. & Min, X.* (2020). Regulation of sleep homeostasis mediator adenosine by basal forebrain glutamatergic neurons. Science, 369, 1208.
· Mazzone, C.M., Liang-Guallpa, J.,Li, C., Wolcott, N. S., Boone, M. H., Southern, M., Kobzar, N. P., Salgado, I. A., Reddy, D. M., Sun, F., Zhang, Y., Li, Y., Cui, G. * & Krashes, M. J.* (2020). High-fat food biases hypothalamic and mesolimbic expression of consummatory drives. Nature Neuroscience, https://doi.org/10.1038/s41593-020-0684-9.
· DeGroot, S.R., Zhao-Shea, R., Chung L., Klenowski, P.M., Sun, F., Molas, S., Gardner, P.D., Li, Y. & Tapper, A.R.* (2020). Midbrain dopamine controls anxiety-like behavior by engaging unique interpeduncular nucleus microcircuitry. Biological Psychiatry, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2020.06.018.
· Zhu, P. K. ,Zheng, W. S. , Zhang, P., Jing, M., Borden, P. M., Ali, F., Guo, K., Feng, J., Marvin, J. S., Wang, Y., Wan, J., Gan, L., Kwan, A. C., Lin, L., Looger, L. L., Li, Y. & Zhang, Y.* (2020). Nanoscopic visualization of restricted nonvolume cholinergic and monoaminergic transmission with genetically encoded sensors. Nano Lett., https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.nanolett.9b04877.
· Lin, R., Liang, J., Wang, R., Yan, T., Zhou, Y., Liu, Y., Feng, Q., Sun, F.,, Li, Y., Li, A., Gong, H., & Luo, M.* (2020). The Raphe Dopamine System Controls the Expression of Incentive Memory. Neuron, 1420-19.
· Zhang, X., Noyes, N. C. , Zeng, J., Li, Y. & Davis, R. L.* (2019). Aversive Training Induces Both Pre- and Postsynaptic Suppression in Drosophila. The Journal of Neuroscience, 1420-19.
· Handler, A., Graham, T. G. M., Cohn, R., Morantte, I., Siliciano, A. F., Zeng J., Li, Y. & Ruta, V.* (2019). Distinct dopamine receptor pathways underlie the temporal sensitivity of associative learning. Cell, 178(1), 60-75.
· Liang, X., Ho, M. C., Zhang, Y., Li, Y., Wu, M. N., Holy, T. E., & Taghert, P. H.* (2019). Morning and Evening Circadian Pacemakers Independently Drive Premotor Centers via a Specific Dopamine Relay. Neuron, 102(4), 843-857.
· Zhou, M.#, Chen, N.#, Tian, J., Zeng, J., Zhang, Y., Zhang, X., Guo, J., Sun, J., Li, Yulong., Guo, A.*, & Li, Yan.* (2019). Suppression of GABAergic neurons through D2-like receptor secures efficient conditioning in Drosophila aversive olfactory learning. PNAS, 201812342.
· Li, B.#, Wong, C.#, Gao, S. M., Zhang, R., Sun, R., Li, Y., & *Song, Y. (2018). The retromer complex safeguards against neural progenitor-derived tumorigenesis by regulating Notch receptor trafficking. eLife, 7, e38181.
· Tanaka, M., Sun, F., Li, Y., & Mooney, R.* (2018). A mesocortical dopamine circuit enables the cultural transmission of vocal behaviour. Nature, 563(7729), 117-120.
· Chen, B.#, Huang, X.#, Gou, D., Zeng, J., Chen , G., Pang, M., Hu, Y., Zhao, Z., Wu, H., Cheng, H., Zhang, Z., Xu, C., & Li, Y., Chen, L.*, Wang, A.* (2018). Rapid volumetric imaging with Bessel-Beam three-photon microscopy. Biomedical optics express, 9(4), 1992-2000.
· Shen, Y., Ge, W. P., Li, Y., Hirano, A., Lee, H. Y., Rohlmann, A., Missler, M., Tsien, R. W., Jan, L. Y., Fu, Y. H.* & Ptacek, L. J.* (2015). Protein mutated in paroxysmal dyskinesia interacts with the active zone protein RIM and suppresses synaptic vesicle exocytosis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 112(10), 2935-2941.
· Liang, L., Li, Y., Potter, C. J., Yizhar, O., Deisseroth, K., Tsien, R. W., & Luo, L.* (2013). GABAergic Projection Neurons Route Selective Olfactory Inputs to Specific Higher-Order Neurons. Neuron, 79(5), 917-931.
· Park, H., Li, Y., & Tsien, R. W.* (2012). Influence of synaptic vesicle position on release probability and exocytotic fusion mode. Science, 335(6074), 1362-1366.
· Yoo, A. S.*, Sun, A. X., Li, L., Shcheglovitov, A., Portmann, T., Li, Y., Lee-Messer, C., Dolmetsch, R. E., Tsien R. W. & Crabtree, G. R.* (2011). MicroRNA-mediated conversion of human fibroblasts to neurons. Nature, 476(7359), 228-231.
· Zhang, Q., Li, Y., & Tsien, R. W.* (2009). The dynamic control of kiss-and-run and vesicular reuse probed with single nanoparticles. Science, 323(5920), 1448-1453.
· Kuner, T.*, Li, Y., Gee, K. R., Bonewald, L. F., & Augustine, G. J. (2008). Photolysis of a caged peptide reveals rapid action of N-ethylmaleimide sensitive factor before neurotransmitter release. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 105(1), 347-352.

Reviews, Book Reviews and Highlights

· Wan, J. & Li, Y.* (2020). Recent Advances in Detection Methods for Neurotransmitters. Chinese Journal of Analytical Chemistry, 48(3), 307-315. (In Chinese)
· Wu, Z.* & Li, Y.* (2020). New frontiers in probing the dynamics of purinergic transmitters in vivo. Neuroscience Research, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neures.2020.01.008.
· Zeng, J., Sun, F., Wan, J., Feng, J. & Li, Y.* (2019). New optical methods for detecting monoamine neuromodulators. Current Opinion in Biomedical Engineering, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cobme.2019.09.010.
· Jing, M., Zhang, Y., Wang, H. & Li, Y.* (2019). GPCR‐based sensors for imaging neurochemicals with high sensitivity and specificity. Journal of Neurochemistry, https://doi.org/10.1111/jnc.14855.
· Dong, A.*, Liu, S., & Li, Y.* (2018). Gap Junctions in the Nervous System: Probing Functional Connections Using New Imaging Approaches. Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience, 12, 320.
· Wang, H., Jing, M., & Li, Y.* (2018). Lighting up the brain: genetically encoded fluorescent sensors for imaging neurotransmitters and neuromodulators. Current Opinion in Neurobiology, 50, 171-178.
· Wang, A.#, Feng, J.#, Li, Y.*, & Zou, P.* (2018). Beyond Fluorescent Proteins: Hybrid and Bioluminescent Indicators for Imaging Neural Activities. ACS chemical neuroscience, 9(4), 639-650.
· Qian, C., & Li, Y.* (2015). Spine maturation and pruning during development: Cadherin/Catenin complexes come to help. Science China. Life sciences,58(9), 929.
· Li, Y.*, & Rao, Y.* (2015). Pied Piper of Neuroscience. Cell, 163(2), 267-268.
Laboratory Introduction