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

The long-term goal of our research is to understand the mechanisms that mediate neuronal migration in mammals. 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, our work is focused on elucidating the roles of components of the Wnt/Planar Cell Polarity pathway in regulating the directionality and extent of FBM neuron migration. These studies are performed in zebrafish and mice, using experimental approaches that each model system is uniquely suited for, such as time-lapse imaging and conditional gene knockout.

Research supported by: