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Dendrite morphogenesis: form, function and relevance to neurological disorders


Speaker:Yuh-Nung Jan, Ph.D.

Time:14:30 - 15:50


Dendrite arborization patterns are critical parameters of neural circuits. We have established the dendritic arborization (da) neurons, a group of sensory neurons in the Drosophila peripheral nervous system (PNS), as a model system to investigate fow neurons acquire their neuronal-type-specific dendritic morphology and how dendritic morphology contributes to the function of those neurons. da neurons are involved in mechano-sensation, the least well understood sensor modality. Drosophila has emerged as an excellent system for studying mechano-sensation. I will describe our recent progress in uncovering molecular mechanisms underling dendrite morphogenesis and mechano-sensation.

The human homologues of several Drosophila genes that we found to be important for dendrite morphogenesis (e.g. DYRK1a and TAOK2) have been implicated in autism spectrum disorders and Down syndrome. Thus, our studies of dendrite morphogenesis may provide insights to certain neurological disorders.