Our laboratory is interested in understanding how neural circuits form and function to elicit appropriate behavior, and how they can be modified by experience. Orderly and specific patterns of neuronal wiring are critical to trigger coherent responses to sensory inputs. Conversely, mistakes in connectivity may lead to altered behaviors observed in disorders such as autism or schizophrenia. It is therefore essential to learn how neurons choose synaptic partners as they “wire up” the developing brain and maintain such connections throughout life. To study mechanisms of neuronal wiring, we have focused on the visual system. The success of our research will provide novel insights into the cellular basis of visual perception and will allow to generate new methods to examine neural circuitry in the normal brain and in animal models of of neurological and psychiatric diseases.
Extensive Research Description
Our current research involves both retina (light-sensitive layer of eye) and brain targets: 1) Retina project includes investigating how retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) acquire specific morphological structure during development and how they eventually recognize distinct visual cues (e.g. color, motion). We are examining potential effects of overexpression and knock-out of candidate genes on structural development and functional specification of distinct subsets of RGCs that may lead to alteration in visual perception. 2) Brain project focuses on investigating how distinct visual information from the retina - perceived by different types of RGCs - is processed in the brain. Studies include the search of brain neurons receiving specific visual cues (e.g. direction selectivity) from the retina and examination of development of unique connections between the retina and the brain.
- De la Huerta I, Kim IJ, Voinescu PE and Sanes JR Direction-selective retinal ganglion cells arise from molecularly specified multipotential progenitors (2012) Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 109(43):17663-17668. PMCID: PMC3491461
- Zhang Y, Kim IJ, Sanes JR and Meister M. The most numerous ganglion cell type of the mouse retina is a selective feature detector (2012). Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 109(36):E2391-2398. PMCID: PMC3437843
- Kay JN*, De la Huerta I*, Kim IJ*, Zhang Y*, Yamagata M, Chu MW, Meister M and Sanes JR (2011). Retinal Ganglion Cells with Distinct Directional Preferences Differ in Molecular Identity, Structure, and Central Projections. J. Neurosci. 31 (21): 7753-7762,
- Kim IJ, Zhang Y, Meister M, Sanes JR. Laminar Restriction of Retinal Ganglion Cell Dendrites and Axons: Subtype-Specific Developmental Patterns Revealed With Transgenic Markers. J. Neurosci. 30(4):1452-1462, PMCID: PMC2822471
- Kim IJ*, Zhang Y*, Yamagata M, Meister M, Sanes JR (2008) Molecular Identification of a Retinal Cell Type That Responds to Upward Motion. Nature. 452 (7186):478-482. * co-first authors