Dr. Paula G Slater
During neuronal development, neurons extend axons that navigate the embryonic terrain to find their targets and generate connections. In the tip of the axon there is a structure called growth cone, which is responsible for properly steering the axon. The growth cone detects signals and respond to those signals generating a mechanical response from the axon (advance, turn or retract). The axon mechanical response is achieved by the coordination of two structures that function as scaffolding and highways for the growth cone. How the coordination of these structures is regulated and triggered by the signals is unknown. In my postdoctoral research, we suggest that the protein XMAP215, which was previously shown to be necessary for axon outgrowth, is able to regulate the coordination of these structures in the axon growth cone when exposing the neurons to repellent signals, acting like a bridge between these two scaffolding and/or highway structures. What is the medical relevance of my research? Some neurodevelopmental and mental health disorders, like autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia, are characterized by abnormalities in neuronal development and neuronal connections. The understanding of neuronal developmental processes, like how the microtubule polymerase XMAP215 regulates microtubules within the axonal growth cone and why it is necessary for continuous axon outgrowth, could contribute to the generation of new or improved treatments and/or preventions of these disorders.
Lab MembershipsLarrain Laboratory (Post-doc)
Department of Cellular and Molecular Biology
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile