Neurons are extremely interesting cells because genetic information and most of the synthetic machinery is located in one region of the cell, and materials must be transported long distances (sometimes up to one meter) to supply the axon terminus. Disruption of this transport and alterations in the structural proteins often lead to protein aggregation and intracellular inclusions associated with neurodegenerative diseases. Neurobiologists within the department are working to decipher why these cellular disruptions occur, and how they lead to disease.
A major focus is on Alzheimer’s Disease, with studies aimed at developing an understanding of:
- How microtubule associated proteins abnormally associate to form filamentous inclusions
- How abnormal processing of the beta-amyloid peptide leads to toxic aggregates
- The normal cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate neurite elongation during development and how toxic cellular aggregate lead to neurite degeneration
- The mechanisms that regulate neural plasticity