The nervous system is a complex cellular network specialized in intra- and intercellular information transfer. A human brain with ~86.1 billion neurons forms ~100 trillion connections whereas a simple multicellular organism such as the nematode, C. elegans with 302 neurons establishes ~7000 connections. Building this intricate neural network occurs in conjunction with the morphogenesis of the neuron. During neuronal morphogenesis the neuronal precursor transforms into a highly asymmetrically shaped neuron with unique cellular structures (axon, dendrite and synapse) that specializes in intra and intercellular information transfer. The formation of these neuron specific signaling structures relies on the dynamic remodeling of the microtubule cytoskeleton within the developing neuron, which requires the activity of several microtubule regulators.
Neuronal differentiation is tightly linked to cytoskeletal reorganization
Our lab is interested in understanding how microtubule regulators contribute to axon, dendrite and synapse formation and how this facilitates the precise wiring of the nervous system. The lab also employs a multidisciplinary approach involving classical genetic methods and state of the art genome editing tools (CRISPR), and high temporal imaging of neuronal development in vivo in C. elegans to manipulate and visualize the dynamic cellular structures within the neuron.