Using the mouse neocortex and cerebellar cortex as models for central nervous system development, our laboratory studies the basic mechanisms of neurogenesis and fate specification during the early stages of brain development and during cellular migrations and the formation of synaptic connections in later developmental periods. Our lab pioneered the development of video imaging methods that provided the first dynamic view of the mode of movement of CNS neurons along glial fibers. Through combined molecular, biochemical, and imaging approaches, the laboratory studies how changes in gene expression modulate precursor cell proliferation and migration to form the neuronal laminae. We are using genetic and molecular genetic approaches to understand how human mutations in migration genes relate to developmental diseases, such as autism and schizophrenia, and to pediatric brain cancers.

Cerebellar granule neuron migrating along a glial fiber expresses the dynein inter-mediate chain in the nucleus (red) and β-tubulin (green) in the perinuclear tubulin cage. The centrosome, just forward of the nucleus, is double-labeled. From Solecki et al, 2004.