Directories - Faculty

Department of Biological Science

at Florida State University

Biological Science Faculty Member

Dr. Jian Feng

  • Office: 3061 King Life Sciences
  • Office: 850 644 3706
  • Lab: King 3012
  • Lab: 850 644 0396
  • Fax: 850 645 8447
  • Mail code: 4295
  • E-mail:

Neuro Home Page

Assistant Professor
Ph.D. UCLA, 2007; Postdoc, UCLA 2009; Postdoc, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City 2015.
Graduate Faculty Status

Research and Professional Interests:

Epigenetic regulation of neuropsychiatric disorders.


Brain function requires accurate control of gene transcription in response to environmental stimuli. Epigenetics plays a core role during this process by modulating gene expression without changing underlying DNA sequences. It has therefore been implicated in various neuropsychiatric disorders. With help of modern genomic tools and novel epigenetic concepts largely developed in proliferating cultured cells, I aim to decipher out the epigenetic underpinnings of neuropsychiatric diseases in vivo by using rodent models.


In the past, my studies revealed several modes of epigenetic regulation of cocaine action and depression in mouse nucleus accumbens (NAc), a key brain reward region. 1) we found unique combinations of histone modification changes/signatures, which accompany cocaine’s regulation of gene expression. Importantly, they have a widespread correlation with pre-mRNA alternative splicing (by RNAseq). Based on this, we further identified a novel role of splicing factor A2BP1 in cocaine behavioral abnormalities. 2) TET oxidases were recently recognized to mediate the conversion of methylated DNA to 5-hydroxymethylcytosine (5hmC). This not only presents additional layers of DNA epigenetic modification, but also provides a long sought after DNA demethylation pathway. We found repeated cocaine administration selectively decreases TET1 in NAc, which enhances behavioral responses to cocaine. Furthermore, we also demonstrated associated 5hmC dynamics in both coding regions and putative enhancer areas.  3) We showed that β-catenin mediates pro-resilient effects after social defeat stress. Through genome-wide β-catenin enrichment mapping (ChIP-seq), we recognized Dicer1, important in microRNA biogenesis­, as a novel β-catenin target. And Dicer1 mediated β-catenin-dependent microRNA regulation is associated with this stress resilience.


In my independent lab at FSU where I started in the summer of 2015, I look forward to continuing my neuroepigenetic efforts to study more biologically significant questions across a broader range of neuropsychiatric disorders with a focus on DNA epigenetics and non-coding RNAs. The laboratory will emphasize an integration of cutting-edge epigenetic/genomic tools with behavioral neuroscience researches. Highly motivated individuals are encouraged to apply to a position at all levels (e.g. undergrad researcher, graduate student, technician, and postdoc fellow) at anytime. I hope to work with you to explore novel epigenetic underpinnings of neuropsychiatric disorders derived from findings in aforementioned researches and beyond.

Selected Publications:

Feng J. (2017) Role of Cyfip2 in binge eating. Biological Psychiatry. (commentary)

Feng J, Pena CJ, Purushothaman I, Engmann O, Walker D, Brown AN, Issler O, Doyle M, Harrigan E, Mouzon E, Vialou V, Shen L, Dawlaty MM, Jaenisch R, Nestler EJ. (2017). Tet1 in nucleus accumbens opposes depression and anxiety-like behaviors. Neuropsychopharmacology.

Zhao JY, Liang L, Gu X, Li Z, Wu S, Sun L, Atianjoh FE, Feng J, Mo K, Jia S, Lutz BM, Bekker A, Nestler EJ, Tao YX. (2017)  DNA methyltransferase DNMT3a contributes to neuropathic pain by repressing Kcna2 in primary afferent neurons. Nature  Communications. 

Sun L, Zhao JY, Gu X, Liang L, Wu S, Mo K, Feng J, Guo W, Zhang J, Bekker A, Zhao X, Nestler EJ, Tao YX. (2017) Nerve Injury-Induced Epigenetic Silencing Of Opioid Receptors Controlled By Dnmt3a In Primary Afferent Neurons. Pain.

Pfau ML, Purushothaman I, Feng J, Golden SA, Aleyasin H, Lorsch ZS, Cates HA, Flanigan ME, Menard C, Heshmati M, Wang Z, Ma’ayan A, Shen L, Hodes GE, Russo SJ. (2016). Intergrative Aanalysis of Sex-Sepcific microRNA Networks Following Stress in Mouse Nucleus Accumbens. Frontiers in Molecular Neuroscience.

Wang T, Santos JH, Feng J, Fargo DC, Shen L, Riadi G, Keeley E, Rosh ZS, Nestler EJ, Woychik RP. (2016). A Novel Analytical Strategy to Identify Fusion Transcripts between Repetitive Elements and Protein Coding-Exons Using RNA-Seq. PLOS One. 11(7):e0159028.

Cahill ME, Bagot RC, Gancarz AM, Walker DM, Sun H, Wang ZJ, Heller EA, Feng J, Kennedy PJ, Koo JW, Cates HM, Neve RL, Shen L, Dietz DM, Nestler EJ. (2016). Bidirectional Synaptic Structural Plasticity after Chronic Cocaine Administration Occurs through Rap1 Small GTPase Signaling. Neuron. 89(3):566-82.

Mitsi V, Terzi D, Puruphashaman I, Manouras L, Gaspari S, Stratinaki M, Feng J, Shen L, Zachariou V. (2015) RGS9-2 actions in the nucleus accumbens modulate the antiallodynic and antidepressant actions of tricyclic antidepressants in models of neuropathic pain. PNAS. 112(36):E5088-97. 

Hodes GE, Pfau ML, Purushothaman I, Ahn HF, Golden SA, Christoffel DJ, Aleyasin H, Koo JW, Lorsch Z, Feng J, Heshmati M, Turecki G, Neve R, Shen L, Nestler EJ, Russo SJ. (2015) Sex differences in nucleus accumbens transcriptome profiles associated with susceptibility versus resilience to sub-chronic variable stress. Journal of Neuroscience. 35(50):16362-76.

       Wright KN, Hollis F, Duclot F, Dossat AM, Strong CE, Francis TC, Mercer R, Feng J, Dietz DM, Lobo MK, Nestler EJ, Kabbaj M. (2015) Methyl supplementation attenuates cocaine-seeking behaviors and cocaine-induced c-fos activation in a DNA methylation-dependent manner. Journal of Neuroscience. 10; 35(23):8948-58.

       Feng J, Shao N, Szulwach KE, Vialou V, Huynh J, Zhong C, Le T, Li Y, Ferguson D, Cahill ME, Koo JW, Laitman B, Estey D, Stockman V, Ribeiro E, Kennedy P, Mensah I, Turecki G, Faull KF, Song H, Fan G, Casaccia P, Shen L, Jin P, Nestler EJ. (2015) Role of Tet1 and 5-hydroxymethylcytosine in cocaine action. Nature Neurosci. 18(4):536-44.
News & Views: West AE. (2015) Cocaine shapes chromatin landscapes via Tet1. Nature Neuroscience. Mar 26;18(4):478-480.

       Ferguson D, Shao N, Heller EA, Feng J, Neve R, Shen L, Nestler EJ. (2015) SIRT1-FOXO3a regulate cocaine actions in the nucleus accumbens. Journal of Neuroscience. 18;35(7):3100-11

       Koo JW, Mazei-Robison MS, LaPlant Q, Egervari G, Braunscheide KM, Adank DN, Ferguson D, Feng J, Sun H, Scobie KN, Damez-Werno DM, Ribeiro E, Peña CJ, Walker D, Bagot RC, Cahill ME, Anderson SAR, Labonté B, Hodes GE, Browne H, Chadwick B, Robison AJ, Vialou VF, Dias C, Lorsch Z, Mouzon E, Lobo MK, Dietz DM, Russo SJ, Neve RL, Hurd YL, Nestler EJ. (2014Epigenetic basis of opiate suppression of Bdnf gene expression in the ventral tegmental area. Natture Neuroscience. 18(3):415-22.

      Dias C*, Feng J*, Sun H, Shao NY, Mazei-Robison MS, Damez-Werno D, Scobie K, Bagot R, LaBonté B, Ribeiro E, Liu X, Kennedy P, Vialou V, Ferguson D, Peña C, Calipari ES, Koo JW, Mouzon E, Ghose S, Tamminga C, Neve R, Shen L#, Nestler EJ#. (2014) β-Catenin mediated stress resilience through Dicer1/microRNA regulation. Nature. Dec 4;516(7529):51-5.
News & Views: Schratt G. (2014) Neurobiology: a molecular knife to dice depression. Nature. Dec 4;516(7529):45-6

      Heller EA, Cates HM, Peña CG, Sun H, Knight S, Shao N, Feng J, Golden SA, Walsh JJ, Mazei-Robison M, Ferguson D, Herman JP, Han MH, Russo SJ, Tamminga CS, Neve RL, Zhang HS, Shen L, Zhang F, Nestler EJ. (2014) Locus-specific epigenetic reprogramming controls addiction- and depression-related behaviors. Nature Neuroscience. 17(12):1720-7.

       Feng J, Wilkinson M, Liu X, Purushothaman I, Ferguson D, Vialou V, Maze I, Shao N, Kennedy P, Koo JW, Dias C, Laitman B, Stockman V, LaPlant L, Cahill M, Nestler EJ#, Shen L#. (2014) Chronic cocaine-regulated epigenomic chages in mouse nucleus accumbens. Genome Biology. 15(4):R65  

       Vialou V, Bagot R, Cahill M, Ferguson D, Robison A, Ku S, Dietz D, Fallon B, Mazei-Robison M, Harrigan E, Winstanley C, Joshi T, Feng J, Berton O, Nestler EJ. (2014) Prefrontal cortical circuit for depression- and anxiety-related behaviors mediated by cholecystokinin: Role of ΔFosB. Journal of Neuroscience 34(11):3878-87

       Ferguson D, Koo JW, Feng J, Heller E, Rabkin J, Heshmati M, Renthal W, Neve R, Liu X, Shao N, Sartorelli V, Shen L, Nestler EJ. (2013). Essential Role of SIRT1 Signaling in the Nucleus Accumbens in Cocaine and Morphine Action. Journal of Neuroscience. 33(41):16088-16098.

       Shen L, Shao NY, Liu X, Maze I, Feng J, Nestler EJ. (2013). diffReps: detecting differential chromatin modification sites from ChIP-seq data with biological replicates. PLOS One. 8(6):e65598.

       Kennedy PJ, Feng J, Robison AJ, Maze I, Badimon A, Mouzon E, Chaudhury D, Damez-Werno DM, Haggarty SJ, Han MH, Bassel-Duby R, Olson EN, Nestler EJ. (2013). Class I HDAC inhibition blocks cocaine-induced plasticity through targeted changes in histone methylation. Nature Neuroscience. 16(4):434-40.

       Robison AJ, Vialou V, Mazei-Robison M, Feng J, Kourrich S, Collins M, Wee S, Koob G, Turecki G, Neve R, Thomas M, Nestler EJ. (2013). Behavioral and Structural Responses to Chronic Cocaine Require a Feed-Forward Loop Involving ΔFosB and CaMKII in the Nucleus Accumbens Shell. Journal of Neuroscience. 33(10):4295-307.

       Feng J, Nestler EJ. (2013). Epigenetic mechanisms of drug addiction. Current Opinion in Neurobiology. 23(4):521-8. (Review)

       Koo JW, Mazei-Robison MS, Chaudhury D, Juarez B, LaPlant Q, Ferguson D, Feng J, Sun H, Scobie KN, Damez-Werno D, Crumiller M, Ohnishi YN, Ohnishi YH, Mouzon E, Dietz DM, Lobo MK, Neve RL, Russo SJ, Han MH, Nestler EJ. (2012). BDNF is a negative modulator of morphine action. Science. 5;338(6103):124-8.

       Vialou V, Feng J, Robison AJ, Nestler EJ. (2013). Epigenetic mechanisms of depression and antidepressant action. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology. 6;53:59-87. (Review)

       Warren BL, Vialou VF, Iñiguez SD, Alcantara LF, Wright KN, Feng J, Kennedy PJ, Laplant Q, Shen L, Nestler EJ, Bolaños-Guzmán CA. (2013). Neurobiological sequelae of witnessing stressful events in adult mice. Biological Psychiatry. 73(1):7-14.

       Vialou V*, Feng J*, Robison AJ, Ku SM, Ferguson D, Scobie KN, Mazei-Robison MS, Mouzon E, Nestler EJ. (2012). Serum response factor and cAMP response element binding protein are both required for cocaine induction of ΔFosB. Journal of Neuroscience. 32(22):7577-84.

       Dietz DM, Laplant Q, Watts EL, Hodes GE, Russo SJ, Feng J, Oosting RS, Vialou V, Nestler EJ. (2011). Paternal transmission of stress-induced pathologies. Biological Psychiatry. 70(5):408-14.

       Maze I, Feng J, Wilkinson MB, Sun H, Shen L, Nestler EJ. (2011). Cocaine dynamically regulates heterochromatin and repetitive element unsilencing in nucleus accumbens. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 108(7):3035-40.

       Gomez-Pinilla F, Zhuang Y, Feng J, Ying Z, Fan G. (2011). Exercise impacts brain-derived neurotrophic factor plasticity by engaging mechanisms of epigenetic regulation. European Journal of Neuroscience. 33(3):383-90.

       Feng J, Nestler EJ. (2010). MeCP2 and drug addiction. Nature Neuroscience. 13(9):1039-41. (News and Views)

       LaPlant Q, Vialou V, Covington HE 3rd, Dumitriu D, Feng J, Warren BL, Maze I, Dietz DM, Watts EL, Iñiguez SD, Koo JW, Mouzon E, Renthal W, Hollis F, Wang H, Noonan MA, Ren Y, Eisch AJ, Bolaños CA, Kabbaj M, Xiao G, Neve RL, Hurd YL, Oosting RS, Fan G, Morrison JH, Nestler EJ. (2010). Dnmt3a regulates emotional behavior and spine plasticity in the nucleus accumbens. Nature Neuroscience. 13(9):1137-43.
News & Views: Hopf FW, Bonci A. (2010). Dnmt3a: addiction's molecular forget-me-not? Nature Neuroscience. Sep;13(9):1041-3.

       Feng J, Zhou Y, Campbell SL, Le T, Li E, Sweatt JD, Silva AJ, Fan G. (2010). Dnmt1 and Dnmt3a maintain DNA methylation and regulate synaptic function in adult forebrain neurons. Nature Neuroscience. 13(4):423-30.
News & Views: Korzus E. (2010) Manipulating the brain with epigenetics. Nature Neuroscience. 2010 Apr;13(4):405-6.

       Feng J, Fan G. (2009). The role of DNA methylation in the central nervous system and neuropsychiatric disorders. International Review of Neurobiology. 89:67-84. (Review)

       Feng J, Fouse S, Fan G. (2007). Epigenetic regulation of neural gene expression and neuronal function. Pediatric Research. 61(5 Pt 2):58R-63R. (Review)

Feng J, Chang H, Li E, Fan G. (2005). Dynamic expression of de novo DNA methyltransferases Dnmt3a and Dnmt3b in the central nervous system. Journal of Neuroscience Research. 79(6):734-46.

Book Chapters

Brown A, Feng J (2017). Addiction and DNA modifications. in Raul Delgado-Morales (Eds.) Neuroepigenomics in Aging and Disease. Springer.

Feng J. (2017) Epigenetics and Drug Addiction-Translational Aspects. in Jacob Peedicayil, Dag Yasui, & Dennis Grayson (Eds.), Neurobehavioral Disorders and Epigenetics. Elsevier.

       Feng J, Nestler EJ. (2016) DNA modifications in neuropsychiatric disorders. in Timothy Bredy (Eds.) DNA Modifications and the Epigenome in the Brain. Elsevier.

Robison AJ, Feng J, Nestler EJ. (2013). Chapter 6: Drug Addiction and Reward. In Sweatt JD, Meaney MJ, Nestler EJ, and Akbarian S (Eds). Epigenetic Regulation in the Nervous System: Basic Mechanisms and Clinical Impact. Academic Press.

Postdoctoral Associates:

Xu, Haiyang

: External sites will open in a new browser window.