Project Detail
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Glial control of neuronal receptive ending morphology  

In the nervous system, cell shape is malleable. Neuronal receptive endings, such as dendritic spines and sensory protrusions, are structurally remodelled by experience, and an emerging hypothesis in cellular neuroscience is that these shape changes accommodate and define changes in neuron output. Glia are the most abundant cell type in the human brain, and glia contribute extensively to nervous system disease. However, the roles played by glia in the nervous system remain largely mysterious. Several observations suggest that glia could influence the shapes of neuronal receptive-endings: they are in the right place at the right time, they can sense the postsynaptic milieu, their shapes correlate dynamically with neuronal receptive-ending cell shapes, and mutations in some glial proteins affect receptive ending shape. Researchers in this study will use a model animal system, the nematode C. elegans, to tease apart some of mechanisms leading to experience-dependent changes in behavior. They will employ powerful methods of genetic analysis in C. elegans to uncover 1) the molecular mechanisms by which glia affect neuronal shape and 2) how remodeling affects neuron function and animal behavior. Achieving a comprehensive understanding of the mechanisms that endow nervous systems with the ability to change in response to experience is of paramount importance in understanding learning, memory and other aspects of the brain. Such an understanding should ultimately allow researchers to tackle human disorders, including learning disabilities and autism, which may result from defects in nervous system plasticity. Project Status


Funder National Institutes of Health
Fiscal Year Funding $422,500.00
Current Award Period 2010-2015
Project Number 1R01NS073121-01
Principal Investigator Shaham, Shai
Received ARRA Funding? No
Strategic Plan Question Question 2: How Can I Understand What Is Happening? (Biology)
Subcategory Molecular Pathways
Strategic Plan Objective 2O. Not specific to Question 2 objectives
Federal or Private? Federal
Institution The Rockefeller University
State/Country New York
Web Link 1 Glial control of neuronal receptive ending morphology (External web link)
Web Link 2 No URL available.
Web Link 3 No URL available.
History/Related Projects N/A