Associate Professor Department of Neuroscience University of Minnesota
We are interested in understanding the fundamental process that determine when, where and how neurons make connections. Forming connections depends on the ability of axons and dendrites to extend into the surrounding tissue. This navigation is accomplished by the growth cone, a highly dynamic structure at the end of developing axons and dendrites. Interestingly, formation of a growth cone is also a key step in neuronal regeneration after injury, suggesting that regeneration may involve recapitulation of some aspects of neuronal development. In the Lanier lab, we are using primary neuronal cultures and a combination of molecular biology, biochemistry, live cell imaging and fluorescent and electron microscopy to identify key components of the growth cone machinery. This information can then be used to develop transgenic mouse models to study growth cone motility and guidance in vivo.