PhD in Neuroscience. University of Zurich, Switzerland
MSc in Biochemistry and Bioinformatics. University of Conception, Chile.
BSc in Biochemistry. University of Conception, Chile.
Polarization of neural circuits ensures the transmission of neural information in the proper direction throughout the nervous system. For example, light is detected by photoreceptors in the outer retina and visual information is transmitted through interneurons toward retinal ganglion cells in the inner retina and on to the brain. Little is known about how neurons polarize with respect to each other and the surrounding environment.
The retina offers an excellent model in which to investigate mechanisms of circuit polarity. Upon contact in the inner plexiform layer (IPL), amacrine cells (ACs) become unipolar by retracting one process and stabilizing the one that faces the IPL, where they form synapses. Our lab discovered that AC morphology and hence circuit polarity is controlled by Fat3, a member of the Fat family of atypical cadherins. In Fat3 KO retinas, two ectopic plexiform layers are observed and ACs develop an abnormal bipolar morphology with two primary dendrites, one pointing into the IPL and an ectopic one pointing into the INL. However, the Fat3 signaling pathway in any system is poorly understood.
To understand how neuronal polarity is coordinated across circuits, I am interested in investigating how ACs detect their position and change their morphology, using Fat3 as a starting point. My specific objectives are: 1) to identify and characterize the extracellular cue detected by Fat3 at the IPL; and 2) to dissect the intracellular mechanisms by which Fat3 transmits a signal to maintain AC polarity.
What fictional universe do you wish you could visit?
I wish I could live in a world without time so I would never be in a hurry
Which historical figure would you like to have dinner with, and what would you ask?
Antoni Gaudi, and I would ask him to make the house of my dreams!