Research: Molecular signaling events that underlie cellular morphogenesis.
- Developmental biology
Members of the Lundquist lab study the molecular mechanisms of nervous system development using the nematode C. elegans as a model. In particular, researchers in the lab study how the Rac GTPases regulate the actin cytoskeleton during axon outgrowth and in growth cone morphology (in the formation of growth cone lamellipodia and filopodia). Furthermore, lab members are interested in the molecular mechanisms of neuroblast polarization and migration and the roles of receptors and ligands in the control of direction of polarization and migration as well as the role of cytoplasmic signaling molecules (e.g. GTPases, kinases) in this process. The processes of neuronal polarization and migration and axon pathfinding sculpt the structure of the mammalian central nervous system, including the human brain, so understanding conserved mechanisms of morphogenesis will be important to understanding the basis of human developmental disorders and might elucidate mechanisms of central nervous system recovery after trauma such as spinal cord injury or stroke.
Recent work has focused on the role of the Rho GTPases in neuronal development. Rho GTPases are members of signaling pathways that link guidance receptors to the cytoskeleton. the lab has identified the UNC-115 protein (called abLIM in humans), which is actin-binding protein that acts with Rho GTPases and might modulate the actin cytoskeleton directly in response to guidance signals. Other studies in the lab have identified new and previously-identified proteins that control growth cone outgrowth during development of the nervous system.
- Developmental neurobiology