The supraoptic (SON) and paraventricular (PVN) nuclei of the hypothalamus play critical roles in the regulation of bodily homeostasis, including the generation of coordinated neurosecretory and autonomic responses during challenges to fluid and electrolyte balance. In addition to major output neurons, including vasopressinergic (VP) and oxytocinergic (OT) magnocellular neurons, the SON and PVN also harbor a rich network of astroglial cells, and are some of the most vascularized regions in the brain.
Microtubules are dynamic cytoskeletal filaments that control different aspects of cell architecture. Microtubules are intrinsically asymmetric polymers, with fast-growing plus ends, which in cells serve as major sites of microtubule assembly and disassembly, and slow-growing minus ends, which are often stabilized and attached to different cellular structures. In my lab, we use in vitro assays combined with single molecule imaging to dissect how the proteins that bind to microtubule plus- and minus ends control microtubule nucleation and dynamics.
How social and symbiotic behaviors evolve in the Metazoa is poorly understood at the cellular and molecular levels. Rove beetles (Staphylinidae) comprise the most species-rich animal family, and form a remarkable clade in which numerous independent lineages have evolved from solitary, free-living organisms into highly social species capable of behaviorally assimilating into ant colonies.
Over the last 2 decades, the nematode C. elegans has become an important model for the study of host-pathogen interactions. It deploys a wide range of strategies to defend itself against infection. The first is pathogen evasion. Through chemosensation, C. elegans is able to detect specific microbial products, such as surfactants and quorum sensing molecules, and has the capacity to learn to avoid particular pathogens. If C.
The profound functional significance of myelin is revealed by the severe neurological deficits that are consequent upon multiple inherited or acquired demyelinating conditions. Recent observations demonstrate that the dimensions of myelin sheaths relative to axon calibers can be modulated in response to adult experience with significant functional consequences.
Maintaining average activity level within a set-point range constitutes a fundamental property of central neural circuits. Accumulated evidence suggests that mean firing rate (MFR), reflecting an average level of spontaneous spiking activity over extended timescales, represents a physiological variable regulated by homeostatic systems in central neural circuits. However, some central questions have remained open. What are the mechanisms that establish the specific values of MFR set-points? Are MFR set-points fixed (predetermined) or adjustable in central neural circuits?