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Neuron-Glia Interactions

Environment to Embryo

How are new neurons created during embryonic development?

To determine the role of the kif11, Kinesin motor protein in neural stem cell division.

The Barresi lab is extremely interested in understanding how the very first neural stem cells in the embryonic brain are established and regulated to proliferate and ultimately give rise to different types of neurons. We are nearing completion of a study characterizing how one particular gene called kif11, functions to enable neural stem cells to divide. Its loss causes mitotic arrest and loss of certain neuron types. This project has basic implications in the field of stem cell biology, but also clinical implications in how misregulation of neural stem cell division can lead to brain cancers. This is an NIH funded project.

Image: Cross sections of a spinal cord showing neural stem cells (red) at the ventricular zone have arrested monoaster spindles (green) in kif11 mutants.