Qiufu Ma
Qiufu Ma, Ph.D.
Professor of Neurobiology

We are interested in studying the neural circuits involved with the senses of pain, itch, touch, and temperatures. According to population coding hypothesis, each of these somatic sensory modalities is processed along a specific neural circuit or a labeled line, but the emergency of a specific sensation in response to a particular sensory stimulus is often involved with a cross talk among these labeled lines, due to polymodal nature of most sensory neurons. For example, both pain-related and itch-related sensory neurons respond to capsaicin, the pungent ingredient in "hot" chili peppers, but capsaicin injection in humans evokes only pain, due to a dominant suppression of itch by pain. Our research focuses on two related areas. One is to understand the genetic programs that control the assembly of specific sensory-labeled lines. The other is to characterize the neural circuits underlying cross interaction among distinct sensory-labeled lines by developing new genetic tools to mark and ablate specific neuronal populations in the dorsal spinal cord.

 

"We are interested in studying the neural circuits involved with the senses of pain, itch, touch, and temperatures."

Publications View
Identifying the pathways required for coping behaviours associated with sustained pain.
Authors: Authors: Huang T, Lin SH, Malewicz NM, Zhang Y, Zhang Y, Goulding M, LaMotte RH, Ma Q.
Nature
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Timing Mechanisms Underlying Gate Control by Feedforward Inhibition.
Authors: Authors: Zhang Y, Liu S, Zhang YQ, Goulding M, Wang YQ, Ma Q.
Neuron
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Incoherent feed-forward regulatory loops control segregation of C-mechanoreceptors, nociceptors, and pruriceptors.
Authors: Authors: Lou S, Pan X, Huang T, Duan B, Yang FC, Yang J, Xiong M, Liu Y, Ma Q.
J Neurosci
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Transcriptional profiling at whole population and single cell levels reveals somatosensory neuron molecular diversity.
Authors: Authors: Chiu IM, Barrett LB, Williams EK, Strochlic DE, Lee S, Weyer AD, Lou S, Bryman GS, Roberson DP, Ghasemlou N, Piccoli C, Ahat E, Wang V, Cobos EJ, Stucky CL, Ma Q, Liberles SD, Woolf CJ.
Elife
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Identification of spinal circuits transmitting and gating mechanical pain.
Authors: Authors: Duan B, Cheng L, Bourane S, Britz O, Padilla C, Garcia-Campmany L, Krashes M, Knowlton W, Velasquez T, Ren X, Ross S, Lowell BB, Wang Y, Goulding M, Ma Q.
Cell
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Merkel cells are a touchy subject.
Authors: Authors: Ma Q.
Cell
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Genetic control of the segregation of pain-related sensory neurons innervating the cutaneous versus deep tissues.
Authors: Authors: Yang FC, Tan T, Huang T, Christianson J, Samad OA, Liu Y, Roberson D, Davis BM, Ma Q.
Cell Rep
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Ontogeny of excitatory spinal neurons processing distinct somatic sensory modalities.
Authors: Authors: Xu Y, Lopes C, Wende H, Guo Z, Cheng L, Birchmeier C, Ma Q.
J Neurosci
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Activity-dependent silencing reveals functionally distinct itch-generating sensory neurons.
Authors: Authors: Roberson DP, Gudes S, Sprague JM, Patoski HA, Robson VK, Blasl F, Duan B, Oh SB, Bean BP, Ma Q, Binshtok AM, Woolf CJ.
Nat Neurosci
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Runx1 controls terminal morphology and mechanosensitivity of VGLUT3-expressing C-mechanoreceptors.
Authors: Authors: Lou S, Duan B, Vong L, Lowell BB, Ma Q.
J Neurosci
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