My laboratory investigates how individual neurons wire themselves together into a precisely interconnected and functional nervous system. Specifically, the lab is interested in how growth factors direct axon extension and innervation, as well as the intracellular signaling mechanisms that translate external neurotrophic signals into specific cellular responses such as growth cone formation and the elaboration of axonal and dendritic arbors. Our neuron of choice is the retinal ganglion cell (RGC), the only type of neuron that connects the eye to the brain. These connections must be formed with extreme precision in order for an organism to obtain an accurate representation of the visual field. RGC cell bodies and dendrites reside in the retina, while thier axons follow a stereotypic pathway through the diencephalon to innervate their target neurons in the optic tectum. We can manipulate and observe developing RGCs particularly well in the South African claw-toed frog, (Xenopus laevis) tadpoles. With the developing Xenopus visual system we are studying how neurotrophic molecules influence RGC axonogenesis, axonal vs. dendritic arborization, growth cone navigation, target recognition, and synaptogenesis in vivo.
Lab MembershipsLom Lab (Principal Investigator/Director)
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