Research Interests

Laminar organization of neurons in cerebral cortex is critical for normal brain function. Two distinct cellular events guarantee the emergence of laminar organization-- coordinated sequence of neuronal migration, and generation of radial glial cells that supports neurogenesis and neuronal migration. Our current goal is to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying neuronal migration and layer formation in the mammalian cerebral cortex and the relevance of these mechanisms to neurodevelopmental disorders such as Schizophrenia.

Our approach is to combine genetic analysis of neuron- glial interactions with in vivo examination of neuron- glial functions to understand the appropriate positioning and connectivity of neurons in cerebral cortex. Towards this goal, we are studying the following three related questions:
(1) What are the signals that regulate the establishment, development and differentiation of radial glial cells, a key substrate for neurogenesis and neuronal migration in cerebral cortex?

(2)
What are the signals for neuronal migration that determine how neurons reach their appropriate positions in the developing cerebral cortex?
(3) What are the specific cell- cell adhesion related or cytoskeletal mechanisms that determine how neurons migrate, coalesce, and differentiate into distinct layers in the developing cerebral cortex?

These studies provide a framework to characterize the mechanisms that regulate neuron- glial interactions essential for the emergence of cerebral cortical organization. An understanding of these mechanisms and how they are altered in models of neurodevelopmental disorders will help to delineate the pathophysiological processes that culminate in neurodevelopmental disorders.

 

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