Research Concentration - Neurobiology; Stem Cells & Developmental Biology
College of Arts and Sciences
|Office:||PSC, Room 517|
|Resources:||Poulain Lab Website|
Research in the Poulain lab focuses on the mechanisms underlying brain wiring during development. Precise organization of neuronal connections is essential for processing information. A major challenge in neuroscience is to understand how these connections are established, and how errors in this wiring process can lead to disorders. During development, neurons extend axons that navigate along defined paths towards their target by responding to attractive and repulsive cues. Concomitantly or subsequently to this guidance process, refinement mechanisms involving degeneration or pruning correct axons that have deviated from the right path, thereby ensuring the formation of accurate neuronal circuits. An increasing number of neurological disorders have been associated with errors in axon guidance. In addition, axon degeneration recently appeared as the earliest determinant in certain neurodegenerative disorders. Our research aims to understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms by which axon guidance, fasciculation and selective degeneration lead to the formation of functional brain circuits. We use zebrafish as a vertebrate model system and a unique combination of genetic, embryological and live imaging approaches to observe and manipulate axons directly in the embryo in vivo.