Autism, Intellectual Disability

Distal mRNA localization and translation in neural stem cells during mammalian cortical development
2013 Seed Grant

Debra Silver, Ph.D.
Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology
Duke University

Cell division is a fundamental mechanism used by stem cells to produce more differentiated cells.  In the developing brain neural progenitors generate both neurons and progenitors during a process called neurogenesis. This process is critical for shaping the proper size, structure and function of the adult brain. When neurogenesis is aberrant, a number of neurodevelopmental disorders can arise, including microcephaly (reduced brain size), intellectual disability, and autism. We lack a fundamental understanding of how neural stem cells generate differentiated cells. In many organisms, localization of mRNAs has emerged as a conserved mechanism influencing progenitor division. Dr. Silver’s lab will test the novel hypothesis that mRNAs are asymmetrically localized and translated within basal structures of neural stem cells. They will apply innovative approaches using a tagged ribosomal protein and a tagged RNA binding protein, FMRP, to perform screens to identify genome-wide mRNAs asymmetrically localized within neural stem cells of the developing brain. Upon completion of these studies they will uncover new molecules that we predict will be critical for cell fate specification in the developing brain.  Dr. Silver anticipates these studies will open up an entirely new field of research related to regulation of neurogenesis. Moreover it will help elucidate fundamental information critical for understanding the etiology and pathology of broad neurodevelopmental disorders.

Other Grants

Sarah C. Goetz, Ph.D., Duke University
Uncovering a Novel Role for Primary Cilia in Eph/Ephrin Signaling in Neurons
2022 Seed GrantSarah C. Goetz, Ph.D. Duke University Women’s Council Seed Grant Primary cilia are tiny projections from cells that function like an antenna- they receive and may also send…
Erin M. Gibson, Ph.D., Stanford University
Circadian Regulation of Oligodendroglial Senescence and Metabolomics in Aging
2022 Seed GrantErin M. Gibson, Ph.D.Stanford University The brain consists of two main classes of cells, neurons and glia. Glia make-up more than half of the cells in the brain…
Yvette Fisher, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley
Dynamic Modulation of Synaptic Plasticity During Spatial Exploration
2022 Seed GrantYvette Fisher, Ph.D.University of California, Berkeley The Virginia (Ginny) & Roger Carlson Seed Grant Cognitive flexibility is critical for appropriately adjusting thoughts and behaviors to meet changing demands…
Byoung Il Bae, Ph.D., University of Connecticut
Unique Vulnerability of Developing Human Cerebral Cortex to Loss of Centrosomal Protein
2022 Seed GrantByoung Il Bae, Ph.D.University of Connecticut Carl & Marilynn Thoma Foundation Seed Grant The cerebral cortex is the largest and outermost part of the human brain. It is…