Welcome to the Chandrasekhar lab at the University of Missouri-Columbia!

The long-term goals of our research are to understand the mechanisms that mediate neuronal migration in mammals, and to elucidate the consequences of defective migration on the structure and activity of the underlying neural circuits.

In the vertebrate embryo, neurons frequently migrate long distances to reach their final positions, where they assemble into complex networks that control physiology and behavior. Many human neurological disorders result when neurons either migrate aberrantly or fail to migrate. Therefore, it is essential to understand the mechanisms mediating migration of specific neuronal types, so that the causes of and potential remedies for human brain disorders can eventually be identified. Our studies may also impact efforts to induce stem cell-derived neurons to migrate accurately into brain regions damaged by injury or disease.

Our lab employs the migration of facial branchiomotor (FBM) neurons in the zebrafish and mouse hindbrain as a model for neuronal migrations in mammals. The FBM neurons are a subset of cranial motor neurons found in the vertebrate brainstem. In mammals, the FBM neurons compose the motor component of cranial nerve VII, and innervate muscles of facial expression, and of the middle ear and upper neck.

Currently, we are elucidating the role of Celsr1, a component of the Wnt/Planar Cell Polarity pathway, in regulating the directionality of FBM neuron migration in mouse embryos. These studies involve analysis of compound mutants and conditional (tissue-specific) knockouts, and ex vivo explant experiments.

We are also analyzing zebrafish larval jaw movements , which are the motor output of the neural circuits assembled by FBM and other branchiomotor neurons.  These studies involve live imaging of larval movement and neural activity, and analysis of neural circuit structure in neuronal migration mutants.

Research supported by: