We are studying the cell biology of the neuron with a focus on the intricate relationship between intracellular trafficking and neuronal function. The lab is particularly fascinated by the transport of organelles and vesicles in the axons of neurons and our aim is to understand how regulatory nodes of this process can affect neuronal homeostasis during ageing. With time, we have also developed a strong interest in understanding how neuronal trafficking is spatially regulated within the cells. Our belief is that a better understanding of the spatio-temporal regulation of neuronal trafficking is crucial to dissect the mechanisms leading to ageing and neurodegeneration.
We are currently combining in vivo approaches in Drosophila melanogaster with studies in cultured mammalian neurons and Drosophila cells, and we work in close collaboration with the Wohl Centre Imaging Centre (WCIC) and the Nikon Imaging Centre (NIC) @ King’s College London. Expanding the available toolkit to study cytoskeletal trafficking is also an important part of our work and we are happy to share our knowledge and our reagents as they become available.
To answer our questions, we are currently modelling neuronal ageing by using three complementary model systems:
1) Sensory neurons of the Drosophila wing – To better understand the relationship between mitochondrial movement and function in vivo.
2) Mouse dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRGs) – To analyse how the dynamic properties of axonal cargoes are modulated over time in vitro (i.e. in cultured cells).
3) Human fibroblast-derived neurons – To study the mechanisms of intracellular cargo trafficking in a cellular model of human neuronal ageing.
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