Dr Nelson Chong

Senior Lecturer

+44 20 7911 5000 ext 64878
115 New Cavendish Street London W1W 6UW

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After graduating from the University of Westminster with a BSc (Hon) Bioscience degree, I studied for a MSc in Pharmacology at Kings College London. My project (supervised by Dr Philip K. Moore) was the first to identify the novel nitric oxide synthase inhibitor L-NOARG and this work was subsequently published in the British Journal of Pharmacology. I then took up a PhD studentship at Kings College London (Physiology) under the supervision of Dr David Sugden, working on the characterisation of the receptors for the pineal hormone melatonin. My postdoctoral post at the Institute of Psychiatry (London), with Drs Clive Coen, Iain C. Campbell and John F. Powell, worked on the initial identification of circadian clock genes in the brain. Thereafter I became a Fogarty Visiting Fellow at the National Institutes of Health (USA), working with Dr David Klein on the first molecular characterisation of the limiting enzyme in melatonin synthesis. I continued to examine the pineal clock system as a Vice Chancellor fellow at the University of Surrey before taking up a Lectureship at the University of Leicester, where I focused on the molecular basis of cardiac function and circadian biology.

I have now come full circle and back to my home town London and back to Westminster (2013) where it all began, and this is rather exciting for me. I am very much looking forward to working with my colleagues on many diverse projects including circadian and cardiac biology.

Synchrony between external and internal circadian rhythms and harmony among molecular fluctuations within cells are essential for normal organ biology. Circadian (~24 hrs) clocks exist within multiple components of the cardiovascular system. Molecular circadian clock systems, which are located in almost every cell in the body, are pivotal adaptive intracellular machineries designed to allow the cell, organ, and organism to prepare for an anticipated stimulus prior to its onset such as every day biological processes and demands. These clocks have the potential of affecting multiple cellular processes and, therefore, hold the promise of modulating various aspects of cardiovascular function over the course of the day. Many aspects of cardiovascular physiology are subject to diurnal variations and adverse events such as heart attacks, sudden cardiac death, and arrhythmias, appear to be conditioned by the time of day with highest incident during the morning period.

The molecular clockwork is modeled as self-sustained transcriptional and posttranslational interlocking feedback loops, whereby circadian clock genes are periodically suppressed by their protein products with a cycle of ~ 24 hrs. Heterodimeric complexes of basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors CLOCK and BMAL1 (also known as ARNTL) comprise the positive limb of the loop and regulates the expression of Period and Cryptochrome genes via E-box DNA elements (CACGTG). PER and CRY proteins then dimerize and comprise the negative limb of the feedback loop by repressing their own transcription by inhibiting CLOCK:BMAL1. CLOCK:BMAL1 also induce the expression of the nuclear orphan receptor REV-ERBα, which in turn represses Bmal1 transcription, whereas another nuclear receptor (RORα) acts to promote Bmal1 transcription, thereby maintaining a robust circadian cycle.

Clock gene mutant/knockout organisms display diverse phenotypes in cardiovascular disease states. Using these animal models, circadian gene arrays have revealed that ~20-60% of all genes/proteins in peripheral tissues are regulated by the circadian clock. For example, adipocyte-specific deletion of Bmal1 results in obesity in mice and Clock mutant mice also display overt phenotype of obesity and metabolic syndrome and RORα mutant mice have severe atherosclerosis. In addition to transcriptional regulatory mechanisms, circadian clocks are involved in regulating chromatin remodeling and epigenetic processes in different tissues and microRNA expression. In addition, genetic association studies have identified SNPs in clock genes that are associated with cardiovascular disease such as type 2-diabetes, coronary artery disease and hypertension.

Using a systems approach (molecular, cell, organ and animal models), our focus is to identify and delineate novel gene regulatory networks in cardiac function and define molecular mechanisms that control the expression of these genes critical to human health i.e. how does the clock work, and what (and how) it regulates biological processes in the heart?

Current research projects

  • The role and mechanism of the circadian timing system (clock genes, pineal hormone melatonin) on cardiac function and disease
  • Mechanisms of regulation and action of the muscle-enriched gene, Actin-binding Rho-activating protein (Abra), in biology and disease

Individuals that can self-fund and are interested in PhD projects on circadian biology and cardiac function and disease can contact me directly.

2015

Getting rhythm: how do babies do it? (2015)
Joseph, D., Chong, Nelson W., Shanks, M.E., Rosato, E., Taub, N.A., Petersen, S.A., Symonds, M.E., Whitehouse, W.P. and Wailoo, M. 2015. Getting rhythm: how do babies do it? Archives of Disease in Childhood Fetal and Neonatal Edition. 100 (1), pp. F50-F54.

2014

O067 STARS SiRNA knockdown altered cardiac hypertrophy associated gene expression in cardiac myoblasts and rendered cells susceptible to hydrogen peroxide induced cell death (2014)
Fothergill, D.P. and Chong, Nelson W. 2014. O067 STARS SiRNA knockdown altered cardiac hypertrophy associated gene expression in cardiac myoblasts and rendered cells susceptible to hydrogen peroxide induced cell death. Global Heart. 9 (1 Supp), pp. e18-e18.

2012

Cardiac expression of STARS, a novel gene involved in cardiac development and disease, is regulated by GATA4 (2012)
Ounzain, S., Kobayashi, S., Peterson, R., He, A., Samani, N.J., Menick, D.R., Pu, W.T., Liang, Q. and Chong, Nelson W. 2012. Cardiac expression of STARS, a novel gene involved in cardiac development and disease, is regulated by GATA4. Molecular and cellular biology. 32 (10), pp. 1830-1843.
STARS (striated muscle activator of rho signalling) is essential to maintain cardiac development and function in vivo via a SRF pathway (2012)
Chong, Nelson W., Koekemoer, A.L., Ounzain, S., Samani, N.J., Shin, J.T. and Shaw, S.Y. 2012. STARS (striated muscle activator of rho signalling) is essential to maintain cardiac development and function in vivo via a SRF pathway. PLoS ONE. 7 (7), p. e40966.

2011

Melatonin synthesis in retina: cAMP-dependent transcriptional regulation of chicken arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase by a CRE-like sequence and a TTATT repeat motif in the proximal promoter (2011)
Haque, R., Chong, Nelson W., Ali, F., Chaurasia, S.S., Sengupta, T., Chun, E., Howell, J.C., Klein, D.C. and Iuvone, P.M. 2011. Melatonin synthesis in retina: cAMP-dependent transcriptional regulation of chicken arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase by a CRE-like sequence and a TTATT repeat motif in the proximal promoter. Journal of Neurochemistry. 119 (1), pp. 6-17.
Cardiac-specific RNAi knockdown of Abra disrupts heart function and alters lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster (2011)
Beaumont, K.L., Rosato, E. and Chong, Nelson W. 2011. Cardiac-specific RNAi knockdown of Abra disrupts heart function and alters lifespan in Drosophila melanogaster. European Heart Journal. 32 (sup. 1), p. 812.

2010

Identification of histone modification and associated histone deacetylase sensitivity in conserved cis-regulatory domains of the Abra gene (2010)
Ounzain, S., Bingham, A.J., Wood, I.C. and Chong, Nelson W. 2010. Identification of histone modification and associated histone deacetylase sensitivity in conserved cis-regulatory domains of the Abra gene. European Heart Journal. 31 (Sup 1), pp. 418-419.
RNAi inhibition of the circadian factor ROR alpha renders primary ventricular cardiomyocytes pro-arrhythmogenic (2010)
Chong, Nelson W., Rainbow, R.D., Rogard, M. and Mariani, J. 2010. RNAi inhibition of the circadian factor ROR alpha renders primary ventricular cardiomyocytes pro-arrhythmogenic. European Heart Journal. 31 (sup. 1), p. 896.

2009

Myocyte stress 1 plays an important role in cellular hypertrophy and protection against apoptosis (2009)
Koekemoer, A.L., Chong, Nelson W., Goodall, A.H. and Samani, N.J. 2009. Myocyte stress 1 plays an important role in cellular hypertrophy and protection against apoptosis. FEBS Letters. 583 (17), pp. 2964-2967.

2008

The canonical e-box motif: a target for glucocorticoid action that drives rhythmic mouse Pai-1 transcription in vitro (2008)
Singletary, J.H., Chan, D., Samani, N.J. and Chong, Nelson W. 2008. The canonical e-box motif: a target for glucocorticoid action that drives rhythmic mouse Pai-1 transcription in vitro. Gene. 420 (1), pp. 42-47.
Comparative in silico analysis identifies bona fide MyoD binding sites within the myocyte stress 1 gene promoter (2008)
Ounzain, S., Dacwag, C.S., Samani, N.J., Imbalzano, A.N. and Chong, Nelson W. 2008. Comparative in silico analysis identifies bona fide MyoD binding sites within the myocyte stress 1 gene promoter. BMC Molecular Biology. 9 (50).

2006

Circadian clock genes cause activation of the human PAI-1 gene promoter with 4G/5G allelic preference (2006)
Chong, Nelson W., Codd, V., Chan, D. and Samani, N.J. 2006. Circadian clock genes cause activation of the human PAI-1 gene promoter with 4G/5G allelic preference. FEBS Letters. 580 (18), pp. 4469-4472.
Knockdown in zebrafish supports an important role for myocyte stress (ms1) in cardiac development and function (2006)
Chong, Nelson W., Samani, N.J., Mahadeva, H., Koekemoer, A.L. and Shaw, S.Y. 2006. Knockdown in zebrafish supports an important role for myocyte stress (ms1) in cardiac development and function. European Heart Journal. 27 (1), p. 473.

2005

Over-expression of myocyte stress 1 protein in vitro switches on the fetal gene programme and anti-apoptotic pathways (2005)
Chong, Nelson W., Koekemoer, A.L. and Samani, N.J. 2005. Over-expression of myocyte stress 1 protein in vitro switches on the fetal gene programme and anti-apoptotic pathways. European Heart Journal. 26, p. 63.
Characterization of expressed sequence tags from a gallus gallus pineal gland cDNA library (2005)
Hartman, S., Touchton, G., Wynn, J., Geng, T., Chong, Nelson W. and Smith, E. 2005. Characterization of expressed sequence tags from a gallus gallus pineal gland cDNA library. Comparative and Functional Genomics. 6 (5-6), pp. 301-306.

2004

Retinal melatonin biosynthesis: interactions of A/T–rich regions and CRE–like sequences contribute to cAMP–dependent regulation of the chicken AANAT promoter (2004)
Chong, Nelson W., Haque, R., Chaurasia, S.S., Klein, D.C. and Iuvone, P.M. 2004. Retinal melatonin biosynthesis: interactions of A/T–rich regions and CRE–like sequences contribute to cAMP–dependent regulation of the chicken AANAT promoter. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 45 (13).

2003

Temporal–spatial characterization of chicken clock genes: circadian expression in retina, pineal gland, and peripheral tissues (2003)
Chong, Nelson W., Chaurasia, S.S., Haque, R., Klein, D.C. and Iuvone, P.M. 2003. Temporal–spatial characterization of chicken clock genes: circadian expression in retina, pineal gland, and peripheral tissues. Journal of Neurochemistry. 85 (4), pp. 851-860.
Circadian expression of Bmal1 in chicken retina, pineal gland, and peripheral tissues (2003)
Chong, Nelson W., Haque, R., Chaurasia, S.S., Klein, D.C. and Iuvone, P.M. 2003. Circadian expression of Bmal1 in chicken retina, pineal gland, and peripheral tissues. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 44 (13).
Expression of cMOP4, a putative clock component in retina, pineal gland and peripheral tissues (2003)
Chong, Nelson W., Chaurasia, S.S., Haque, R., Klein, D.C. and Iuvone, P.M. 2003. Expression of cMOP4, a putative clock component in retina, pineal gland and peripheral tissues. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 44 (13).

2002

ms1, a novel stress-responsive, muscle-specific gene that is up-regulated in the early stages of pressure overload-induced left ventricular hypertrophy (2002)
Mahadeva, H., Brooks, G., Lodwick, D., Chong, Nelson W. and Samani, N.J. 2002. ms1, a novel stress-responsive, muscle-specific gene that is up-regulated in the early stages of pressure overload-induced left ventricular hypertrophy. FEBS Letters. 521 (1-3), pp. 100-104.
Chickens’ Cry2: molecular analysis of an avian cryptochrome in retinal and pineal photoreceptors (2002)
Bailey, M.J., Chong, Nelson W., Xiong, J. and Cassone, V.M. 2002. Chickens’ Cry2: molecular analysis of an avian cryptochrome in retinal and pineal photoreceptors. FEBS Letters. 513 (2-3), pp. 169-174.

2001

Melatonin biosynthesis in chick retinal photoreceptor cells: developmental and cAMP-stimulated expression of serotonin N-acetyltransferase promoter constructs (2001)
Chong, Nelson W., Haque, R., Klein, D.C. and Iuvone, P.M. 2001. Melatonin biosynthesis in chick retinal photoreceptor cells: developmental and cAMP-stimulated expression of serotonin N-acetyltransferase promoter constructs. Investigative Ophthalmology & Visual Science. 42 (4), p. S354.

2000

Characterization of the chicken serotonin N-acetyltransferase gene: activation via clock gene heterodimer/E-box interaction (2000)
Chong, Nelson W., Bernard, M. and Klein, D.C. 2000. Characterization of the chicken serotonin N-acetyltransferase gene: activation via clock gene heterodimer/E-box interaction. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 275 (42), pp. 32991-32998.
Melatonin biosynthesis in chicken retina: regulation of tryptophan hydroxylase and arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase (2000)
Iuvone, P.M., Chong, Nelson W., Bernard, M., Brown, A.D., Thomas, K.B. and Klein, D.C. 2000. Melatonin biosynthesis in chicken retina: regulation of tryptophan hydroxylase and arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. 460, pp. 31-42.

1999

Melatonin synthesis pathway: circadian regulation of the genes encoding the key enzymes in the chicken pineal gland and retina (1999)
Bernard, M., Guerlotte, J., Greve, P., Grechez-Cassiau, A., Iuvone, P.M., Zatz, M., Chong, Nelson W., Klein, D.C. and Voisin, P. 1999. Melatonin synthesis pathway: circadian regulation of the genes encoding the key enzymes in the chicken pineal gland and retina. Reproduction, Nutrition, Development. 39 (3), pp. 325-334.

1998

Circadian expression of tryptophan hydroxylase mRNA in the chicken retina (1998)
Chong, Nelson W., Cassone, V.M., Bernard, M., Klein, D.C. and Iuvone, P.M. 1998. Circadian expression of tryptophan hydroxylase mRNA in the chicken retina. Molecular Brain Research. 61 (1-2), pp. 243-250.
Reduction of gaba and glutamate transporter messenger rnas in the severe-seizure genetically epilepsy-prone rat (1998)
Akbar, M.T., Rattray, M., Williams, R.J., Chong, Nelson W. and Meldrum, B.S. 1998. Reduction of gaba and glutamate transporter messenger rnas in the severe-seizure genetically epilepsy-prone rat. Neuroscience. 85 (4), pp. 1235-1251.

1996

Rapid identification of novel genes expressed in a circadian manner in rat suprachiasmatic nuclei (1996)
Chong, Nelson W., Cagampang, F.R.A., Coen, C.W., Campbell, I.C. and Powell, J.F. 1996. Rapid identification of novel genes expressed in a circadian manner in rat suprachiasmatic nuclei. NeuroReport. 7 (6), pp. 1199-1203.
Circadian variation of EAAC1 glutamate transporter messenger RNA in the rat suprachiasmatic nuclei (1996)
Cagampang, F.R.A., Rattray, M., Powell, J.F., Chong, Nelson W., Campbell, I.C. and Coen, C.W. 1996. Circadian variation of EAAC1 glutamate transporter messenger RNA in the rat suprachiasmatic nuclei. Molecular Brain Research. 35 (1-2), pp. 190-196.

1995

Structural requirements at the melatonin receptor (1995)
Sugden, D., Chong, Nelson W. and Lewis, D.F.V. 1995. Structural requirements at the melatonin receptor. British Journal of Pharmacology. 114 (3), pp. 618-623.

1994

Thermodynamic analysis of agonist and antagonist binding to the chicken brain melatonin receptor (1994)
Chong, Nelson W. and Sugden, D. 1994. Thermodynamic analysis of agonist and antagonist binding to the chicken brain melatonin receptor. British Journal of Pharmacology. 111 (1), pp. 295-301.

1993

Antigonadal effects of two novel melatonin analogues in adult Djungarian hamsters (1993)
Chong, Nelson W. and Sugden, D. 1993. Antigonadal effects of two novel melatonin analogues in adult Djungarian hamsters. Journal of Pineal Research. 15 (2), pp. 104-107.
N-Bromoacetyl 5-Methoxytryptamine: an irreversible melatonin ligand? (1993)
Chong, Nelson W., Evans, J.E. and Sugden, D. 1993. N-Bromoacetyl 5-Methoxytryptamine: an irreversible melatonin ligand? Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 193 (3), pp. 1355-1361.

1992

The ontogeny of 2-[125I]iodomelatonin binding sites in chicken brain (1992)
Chong, Nelson W. and Sugden, D. 1992. The ontogeny of 2-[125I]iodomelatonin binding sites in chicken brain. Neuroscience Letters. 138 (1), pp. 37-40.

1991

Guanine nucleotides regulate 2-[125I]Iodomelatonin binding sites in chick retinal pigment epithelium but not in neuronal retina (1991)
Chong, Nelson W. and Sugden, D. 1991. Guanine nucleotides regulate 2-[125I]Iodomelatonin binding sites in chick retinal pigment epithelium but not in neuronal retina. Journal of Neurochemistry. 57 (2), pp. 685-689.
Characterization of 2-[125I]iodomelatonin binding sites in the brain of a marsupial, Bennett's wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus) (1991)
Paterson, A., Chong, Nelson W., Brinklow, B., Loudon, A.L. and Sugden, D. 1991. Characterization of 2-[125I]iodomelatonin binding sites in the brain of a marsupial, Bennett's wallaby (Macropus rufogriseus rufogriseus). Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology. Part A: Molecular & Integrative Physiology. 102, pp. 55-58.
Pharmacological identity of 2-[125I]iodomelatonin binding sites in chicken brain and sheep pars tuberalis (1991)
Sugden, D. and Chong, Nelson W. 1991. Pharmacological identity of 2-[125I]iodomelatonin binding sites in chicken brain and sheep pars tuberalis. Brain Research. 539 (1), pp. 151-154.

1990

l-NG-nitro arginine (l-NOARG), a novel, l-arginine-reversible inhibitor of endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in vitro (1990)
Moore, P.K., Al-Swayeh, O.A., Chong, Nelson W., Evans, R.A. and Gibson, A. 1990. l-NG-nitro arginine (l-NOARG), a novel, l-arginine-reversible inhibitor of endothelium-dependent vasodilatation in vitro. British Journal of Pharmacology. 99 (2), pp. 408-412.

2013

The circadian timing system and cardiac function: ticking clocks in beating hearts (2013)
Chong, Nelson W. 2013. The circadian timing system and cardiac function: ticking clocks in beating hearts. International conference on “Developmental Physiology”. Kilworth Hotel, Leicestershire 20-21 June 2013
Melatonin and prevention of cardiac arrhythmias (2013)
Chong, Nelson W. 2013. Melatonin and prevention of cardiac arrhythmias. The 77th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Japanese Circulation Society. Yokohama, Japan March 2013

2012

The Abra gene: a crucial factor for cardiac development and disease (2012)
Chong, Nelson W. 2012. The Abra gene: a crucial factor for cardiac development and disease. International conference on “Developmental Physiology”. Kilworth Hotel, Leicestershire June 2012

2010

Circadian rhythm development related to sleeping patterns in human infants (2010)
Chong, Nelson W. and Joseph, D. 2010. Circadian rhythm development related to sleeping patterns in human infants. ISA and ISPID Joint Conference. Sydney, Australia 08 Oct 2010
Different sleep trajectories in childhood: from typical development to ADHD, autism and obesity (2010)
Chong, Nelson W. and Joseph, D. 2010. Different sleep trajectories in childhood: from typical development to ADHD, autism and obesity. Congress of the International Pediatric Sleep Association joint meeting with Pediatric Sleep Medicine Conference. Sala Capranica, Hotel Nazionale, Rome, Italy 05 Dec 2010
Melatonin protects isolated ventricular cardiomyocytes from high glucose induced arrhythmias (2010)
Chong, Nelson W. 2010. Melatonin protects isolated ventricular cardiomyocytes from high glucose induced arrhythmias. Society for Research on Biological Rhythms (SRBR) conference. Florida May 2010

2008

Mother-baby sleep interactions (2008)
Chong, Nelson W., Joseph, D., Rosato, E., Taub, N., Shanks, M. and Wailoo, M. 2008. Mother-baby sleep interactions. SIDS 10th International Conference. Portsmouth, UK Jun 2008

2007

Platelets induce Pai-1 mRNA expression in monocytes through TGF-BETA (2007)
Chong, Nelson W., Chan, D., Codd, V., Goodall, A.H. and Wright, J. 2007. Platelets induce Pai-1 mRNA expression in monocytes through TGF-BETA. British Atheroscelorosis Society Spring Meeting. MSTC, Magdalen College, Oxford 23 Mar 2007
Expression of myocyte stress 1 (ms1), a novel gene involved in cardiac development and hypertrophy is regulated by evolutionarily conserved GATA motifs (2007)
Chong, Nelson W., Ounzain, S., Menick, D.R. and Samani, N.J. 2007. Expression of myocyte stress 1 (ms1), a novel gene involved in cardiac development and hypertrophy is regulated by evolutionarily conserved GATA motifs. British Cardiovascular Society Annual Scientific Conference. Glasgow, Scotland 07 Jun 2007
Expression of myocyte stress 1 (ms1), a novel gene involved in cardiac development and hypertrophy is regulated by evolutionary conserved GATA motifs (2007)
Chong, Nelson W., Ounzain, S., Menick, D.R. and Samani, N.J. 2007. Expression of myocyte stress 1 (ms1), a novel gene involved in cardiac development and hypertrophy is regulated by evolutionary conserved GATA motifs. ESC Congress 2007. Vienna, Austria Sep 2007
Platelet PAI-1 is dependent on the 4G/5G polymorphism (2007)
Chong, Nelson W., Chan, D., Goodall, A.H. and Wright, J. 2007. Platelet PAI-1 is dependent on the 4G/5G polymorphism. XXIst Congress of the International Society on Thrombosis and Haemostasis. Geneva, Switzerland Jul 2007
Myocyte Stress 1 (ms1): a novel nexus that integrates the SRF and GATA4 cardiac gene regulatory networks (2007)
Chong, Nelson W., Ounzain, S., Menick, D.R. and Samani, N.J. 2007. Myocyte Stress 1 (ms1): a novel nexus that integrates the SRF and GATA4 cardiac gene regulatory networks. 32nd FEBS Congress 2007: Molecular Machines and their Dynamics in Fundamental Cellular Functions. Vienna, Austria Jul 2007
A conserved E-box module drives rhythmic mouse Pai-1 transcription in vitro and provides a cognate binding site clock and hypoxic factors (2007)
Chong, Nelson W., Singletary, J.H., Chan, D. and Samani, N.J. 2007. A conserved E-box module drives rhythmic mouse Pai-1 transcription in vitro and provides a cognate binding site clock and hypoxic factors. Joint Meeting of The Slovak Physiological Society, The Physiological Society and The Federation of European Physiological Societies. Bratislava, Slovakia Sep 2007

2006

Knockdown in zebrafish supports important role for myocyte stress (ms1) in cardiac development and function (2006)
Chong, Nelson W. 2006. Knockdown in zebrafish supports important role for myocyte stress (ms1) in cardiac development and function. ESC Congress 2006. Barcelona, Spain Sep 2006

2005

Over-expression of myocyte stress 1 protein in vitro switches on the fetal gene programme and anti-apoptotic pathways (2005)
Chong, Nelson W. 2005. Over-expression of myocyte stress 1 protein in vitro switches on the fetal gene programme and anti-apoptotic pathways. ESC Congress 2005. Stockholm, Sweden Sep 2005

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