Aakanksha Singhvi, Ph.D. - Assistant Professor
Division of Basic Sciences
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, WA
Nov 09, 2020 @ 4:00 p.m.
We use our nervous system throughout life to sense the world around us and respond with meaningful behaviors. Enabling this are its two major cell types, neurons and glia, which exist in about equal numbers in the human brain. Constant glia-neuron molecular interactions are critical for nervous system development, function and aging and their impairment correlates with many neurological diseases. However, roles of glia in neural functions remain poorly understood in molecular mechanistic detail. We previously helped establish C. elegans as a powerful experimental platform to molecularly dissect glia-neuron interactions in vivo. This has led us to uncover novel molecular pathways and logic by which glia regulate neuron shape and animal behaviors. This includes our recent discovery that C. elegans glia prune neuron-endings through life, like mammalian glia. Our uncovering the underlying machinery at single glia-neuron resolution led us to find that glia actively direct pruning to control neuron shape and function, and identify the glial molecular rheostat tuning this process. Broad conservation and disease-relevance of all C. elegans glial cues and functions we are uncovering underscores the potential of this genetically tractable model to define glial roles in neural health and disease with exquisite speed and molecular precision.
Host: Neuroscience Graduate Program