The human brain consists of 100 billion neurons and over 100 trillion synapses. The ability of a neuron to find its correct target in this complex environment is critical for the formation of the circuits that underlie human behavior. How do neurons discriminate between a plethora of target choices to form precise synaptic connections and assemble specific neural circuits? How do circuits become substrates to experience, and change during to learning?
We have established a system in the C. elegans nerve ring (the nematode brain) to study these questions. The C. elegans nerve ring, the most complex neuropil structure in the organism, is precisely wired to facilitate the nematode’s behaviors. In my lab we examine the decisions that single neurons make in the living, developing animal as they assemble into a functioning brain, and how these connections change during behaviors.
Our lab couples genetic, molecular, biochemical, behavioral and imaging techniques to identify the signals that direct precise circuit connectivity in the nematode brain and how they change during behavior and learning.
- Shao Z, Watanabe S, Christensen R, Jorgensen EM, Colón-Ramos DA. Synapse location during growth depends on glia location. Cell, 2013 Jul 18;154(2):337-50. PMID:23870123
- Nelson JC, Colón-Ramos DA. Netrin instructs neurosecretory terminal targeting in serotonin neurons of C. elegans. Journal of Neuroscience, 2013 Jan 23;33(4):1366-76. PMID: 23345213
- Stavoe A.K., Nelson J.C., Martínez-Velázquez L.A., Klein M, Samuel A.D., Colón-Ramos D.A. Synaptic vesicle clustering requires a distinct MIG-10/Lamellipodin isoform and ABI-1 downstream from Netrin. Genes and Development, 2012 Oct 1;26(19):2206-21. PMID
- Stavoe A.K., Colón-Ramos D.A. Netrin instructs synaptic vesicle clustering through Rac GTPase, MIG-10/Lamellipodin and the actin cytoskeleton. Journal of Cell Biology, 2012 Apr 2;197(1):75-88. PMCID:3317799
- Christensen R., de la Torre-Ubieta L., Bonni A., Colón-Ramos DA. A conserved PTEN/FOXO pathway regulates neuronal morphology during C. elegans development. Development 2011 Dec; 138(23)5257-67
- Colón-Ramos, D.A., Margeta, M., Shen, K., (2007). Glia promote local synaptogenesis through UNC-6/Netrin signaling in C. elegans. Science. 318 (5847): 103-6.