Research AreaMy laboratory studies how nerve connections are first established in the brain. Our studies focus on the developing visual system and our main goal is to understand the molecular and cellular mechanisms of axon guidance that enable axons to navigate from the eye to their distant synaptic targets in the midbrain. We use a multidisciplinary experimental approach that involves in vivo gene transfer, growth cone turning assays and time-lapse imaging of live axons in the brain. Our past studies have revealed that molecularly defined decision-points positioned along the pathway, such as the optic chiasm, guide axon growth. Recent studies have shown that hundreds of mRNAs reside in the growing tips of axons, the growth cones, and that local translation and degradation are important for axon guidance. Basic knowledge of this sort will be essential for developing clinical therapies in nerve repair and for understanding neurodevelopmental disorders. Growth cone shows asymmetric beta-actin signal 5 minutes after onset of netrin-1 gradient (background gradient). Signal is highest (red) in filopodia closest to gradient source and is generated by local protein synthesis.
Current MembersHolt, Christine E. (Principal Investigator/Director)
ContactInstitution: University of Cambridge Address:
University of Cambridge
Dept. Physiology, Development & Neuroscience