The research work in our laboratory has focused on growth factor signaling pathways that regulate survival, proliferation and migration in the developing nervous system. These pathways are normally exquisitely regulated; disruption of these pathways can result in brain tumors or neurodegenerative disorders.
Survival. During development, target derived neurotrophins promote the survival of presynapic cells, allowing neurons that are connected within a neural circuit to survive. Our studies investigate this long distance signaling. Our studies have identified a specialized gene expression program, the retrograde response genes, that prevent axonal degeneration. We use molecular imaging approacher to determine how transcripting and local ...of retrograde response genes are regulated.
Proliferation and migration. We have found that factors that contribute to the proliferation and migration of neural precursors in the developing brain also are responsible for the abnormal proliferation and migration of brain tumor cells. We have identified mechanisms whereby heparan sulgate proteoglycans and chemokines modulate SHH signaling and contribute to proliferation. Our studies focus on how these processes are regulated in normal development, and how this regulation is lost in cancers.