Dr. Alvaro Sagasti, UCLA

Friday, November 16, 2012 at 1:10pm

Thompson Biology, 112 59 Lab Campus Dr, Williamstown, MA 01267

Dr. Alvaro Sagasti, UCLABiology Department Colloquium

"The development of touch sensation: intimate interactions between skin and neurons"

During development neurons elaborate axonal and dendritic processes to make contact with the environment or other neurons. Proper development of these processes is crucial for the assembly of circuits that allow animals to sense their environment and respond appropriately. The peripheral axons of somatosensory (touch-sensing) neurons in zebrafish provide an accessible setting for studying how the nervous system assembles during development. Using molecular approaches and live imaging techniques we have discovered a molecular guidance system that attracts sensory axons to the skin. Reciprocally, once in the skin, axons signal to skin cells, inducing them to remodel their apical membranes and cytoskeleton to accommodate axons within tunnel-like sheaths. These results attest to the extensive cell-cell communication that is required to form a properly functioning nervous system.

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