Motor Neuron Function

Neural Control of Motor Functions
2008 Seed Grant
Kamal Sharma, Ph.D.
University of Chicago

Our long-term goal is to use genetic markers to identify neurons that regulate motor functions
and transgenic mouse models to understand their contribution to the rhythmic motor output. We
have identified a class of excitatory neurons located in the brainstem reticular formation and the
ventral spinal cord that express homeodomain factor Chx10. Genetic ablation of these neurons
in mice has revealed two distinct functions. Chx10 neurons in the brainstem regulate the
frequency and stability of the respiratory rhythm generated in the Pre-Bötzinger complex (PBC).
Chx10 neurons in the spinal cord regulate the locomotor network activity.

It is known that neurons in the hindbrain regulate breathing, walking and running. It is thought
that many motor related diseases affect the physiology of these neurons. Our goal is to identify
genetic markers for such neurons and to use transgenic and electrophysiological methods to
define their function.

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…