Paul Forscher, PhD

Professor of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology

Research Summary

Have you ever wondered how your brain got wired? How a single neuron finds a unique signaling partner among over 10 billion other neurons? During
development neurons not only face this daunting task but often migrate extremely long distances (>50,000 cell diameter equivalents) to accomplish it!
My lab focuses on this problem and the specialized guidance device called the growth cone that provides the motility and signal transduction capabilities
needed for axon guidance. Current lab projects include: 1) Molecular motor and cytoskeletal protein dynamics underlying growth cone motility. 2) Cell surface receptors involved in target recognition. 3) Investigation of signal transduction pathways involved in controlling the cytoskeletal protein effectors involved. We address the relevant cell biological processes using a "molecular physiology"
approach. This typically entails generation of molecular probes to investigate dynamics of the process and/or protein-protein interactions in living neurons. We use a variety of high resolution imaging and biophysical approaches such as: multimode fluorescent speckle microscopy, laser trapping, photobleaching, and "caged" probe photoactivation.

Extensive Research Description

  1. Actin filament turnover dynamics in neuronal growth
  2. Rho GTPase and Ca signaling crosstalk in regulation of motility
  3. Mechano-transduction in axon growth and neuronal differentiation

Selected Publications

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Contact Info

Paul Forscher, PhD

Forscher Lab

Research Image 1

Growth cone ultrastructure with inset of microtubules and actin distribution and cytoskeletal protein dynamics (right, time flows down)

Research Image 2

Actin filaments (red), mictrotubules (blue) and intrapodia (yellow) in a neuronal growth cone.

Research Image 3

Ultrastructure of the growth cone neck. Microtbules labeled with colloidal gold (green), actin filaments (rec), clathrin coated pits (blue)