Gene Manipulation: Possible Links to Schizophrenia and Autism

Novel Approach to Gene Manipulation in a Cerebral Cortical Signaling Center
2010 Seed Grant
Elizabeth Grove, Ph.D.
Department of Neurobiology
The University of Chicago

The mammalian cerebral cortex is responsible for higher functions of the brain, such as perception, cognition and memory. My lab focuses on how the developing cortex is organized into different areas specialized for different functions. We have found that cell groups, called signaling centers, at the edges of the embryonic cortex, release signaling proteins that form gradients across the cortical tissue. These protein gradients provide positional information that directs the development of the cortical “area map”. Interestingly, these signaling centers are close to regions of the cortex implicated in human mental health disorders such as schizophrenia and autism, suggesting that perturbations of the signaling centers in development could have serious consequences on mental health. In this project, I propose to establish, in mice, a new way to perturb signaling in one of these signaling centers, termed the cortical hem. This new approach should allow us to uncover the functions of this and other signaling centers with great precision, and to determine what goes wrong with cortical development when these centers do not function properly.

Other Grants

Lindsay M. De Biase, Ph.D., University of California Los Angeles
The Role of Microglial Lysosomes in Selective Neuronal Vulnerability
Synapses, the sites of signaling between neurons in the brain, play essential roles in learning, memory, and the health of neurons themselves. An enduring mystery is why some neurons are…
How the Nervous System Constructs Internal Models of the External World
As animals navigate their environments, they construct internal models of the external sensory world and use these models to guide their behavior. This ability to incorporate ongoing sensory stimuli into…
Xiaojing Gao, Ph.D., Stanford University
When Neural Circuits Meet Molecular Circuits: Quantitative Genetic Manipulation with Single-cell Consistency
Cells are the building blocks of our bodies. We get sick when the cells “misbehave”. The way modern gene therapies work is to introduce genes, fragments of DNA molecules that…
Rafiq Huda, Ph.D., Rutgers University
Conducting the Orchestra of Movement—Functional Role of Striatal Astrocytes in Health and Disease
Movement requires coordinated activity across a large brain-wide network. The striatum is a particularly important part of this circuit; it integrates motor-related information from many distinct brain regions to regulate…