The Hong laboratory is focused on Chemical Biology of vertebrate development and stem cell differentiation. 

1) Chemical Genetics of Embryonic Development:  In a manner analogous to classic mutagenesis screens, we conduct high-throughput chemical screens using zebrafish to discover small molecules that specifically perturb embryonic pattern formation.  Using the chemical genetic approach, incorporating molecular cell biology, embryology, biochemistry and medicinal chemistry, we have discovered exquisitely selective modulators of the Bone Morphogenetic Protein (BMP), Wnt, Innate Immunity and Hedgehog pathways, as well as important new signaling components that direct early vertebrate development. 

2) Regenerative Chemical Biology:  Since small molecules that perturb embryonic patterning do so by promoting development of specific cell and tissue types, we predict that they will be valuable chemical reagents for stem cell research and cell-based regenerative therapies. We have developed chemical methods for robust induction of neurogenesis and cardiomyogenesis in pluripotent stem cells, including induced pluripotent cells from patients.

3) Drug Discovery/ Experimental Therapeutics:  Since aberrant activities of developmental pathways play major roles in pathogenesis of many adult diseases, we are exploring therapeutic potential of our novel small molecules for a number of human diseases.  For example, we have made key contributions to the elucidation of BMP signaling as a promising therapeutic target for anemia of chronic disease, heterotopic ossification syndromes, inflammatory bowel disease, and atherosclerosis.


Featured publications

  1. Emerging roles of the bone morphogenetic protein pathway in cancer: potential therapeutic target for kinase inhibition. Jiramongkolchai P, Owens P, Hong CC (2016) Biochem Soc Trans 44(4): 1117-34
    › Primary publication · 27528760 (PubMed) · PMC5483997 (PubMed Central)
  2. Development of thieno- and benzopyrimidinone inhibitors of the Hedgehog signaling pathway reveals PDE4-dependent and PDE4-independent mechanisms of action. Hempel JE, Cadar AG, Hong CC (2016) Bioorg Med Chem Lett 26(8): 1947-53
    › Primary publication · 26976215 (PubMed) · PMC5147493 (PubMed Central)
  3. Common pathways regulate Type III TGFβ receptor-dependent cell invasion in epicardial and endocardial cells. Clark CR, Robinson JY, Sanchez NS, Townsend TA, Arrieta JA, Merryman WD, Trykall DZ, Olivey HE, Hong CC, Barnett JV (2016) Cell Signal 28(6): 688-98
    › Primary publication · 26970186 (PubMed) · PMC4827451 (PubMed Central)
  4. BMP signaling and cellular dynamics during regeneration of airway epithelium from basal progenitors. Tadokoro T, Gao X, Hong CC, Hotten D, Hogan BL (2016) Development 143(5): 764-73
    › Primary publication · 26811382 (PubMed) · PMC4813333 (PubMed Central)
  5. Matrigel Mattress: A Method for the Generation of Single Contracting Human-Induced Pluripotent Stem Cell-Derived Cardiomyocytes. Feaster TK, Cadar AG, Wang L, Williams CH, Chun YW, Hempel JE, Bloodworth N, Merryman WD, Lim CC, Wu JC, Knollmann BC, Hong CC (2015) Circ Res 117(12): 995-1000
    › Primary publication · 26429802 (PubMed) · PMC4670592 (PubMed Central)
  6. Combinatorial polymer matrices enhance in vitro maturation of human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes. Chun YW, Balikov DA, Feaster TK, Williams CH, Sheng CC, Lee JB, Boire TC, Neely MD, Bellan LM, Ess KC, Bowman AB, Sung HJ, Hong CC (2015) Biomaterials : 52-64
    › Primary publication · 26204225 (PubMed) · PMC4550551 (PubMed Central)
  7. Comparable calcium handling of human iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes generated by multiple laboratories. Hwang HS, Kryshtal DO, Feaster TK, Sánchez-Freire V, Zhang J, Kamp TJ, Hong CC, Wu JC, Knollmann BC (2015) J Mol Cell Cardiol : 79-88
    › Primary publication · 25982839 (PubMed) · PMC4530041 (PubMed Central)
  8. An in vivo chemical genetic screen identifies phosphodiesterase 4 as a pharmacological target for hedgehog signaling inhibition. Williams CH, Hempel JE, Hao J, Frist AY, Williams MM, Fleming JT, Sulikowski GA, Cooper MK, Chiang C, Hong CC (2015) Cell Rep 11(1): 43-50
    › Primary publication · 25818300 (PubMed) · PMC4394042 (PubMed Central)
  9. Inhibition of BMP signaling suppresses metastasis in mammary cancer. Owens P, Pickup MW, Novitskiy SV, Giltnane JM, Gorska AE, Hopkins CR, Hong CC, Moses HL (2015) Oncogene 34(19): 2437-49
    › Primary publication · 24998846 (PubMed) · PMC4689138 (PubMed Central)
  10. Selective small molecule targeting β-catenin function discovered by in vivo chemical genetic screen. Hao J, Ao A, Zhou L, Murphy CK, Frist AY, Keel JJ, Thorne CA, Kim K, Lee E, Hong CC (2013) Cell Rep 4(5): 898-904
    › Primary publication · 24012757 (PubMed) · PMC3923627 (PubMed Central)