Scheme: Newton Advanced Fellowship
Organisation: University of Oxford
Dates: Mar 2015-Feb 2018
Summary: We study molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying neural development by using C. elegans Q neuroblasts as our experimental system. Q neuroblast undergo asymmetric cell division, migration, apoptosis to generate three types of neurons. Interestingly, at the end of differentiation, the dendritic endings of Q neuroblast progenies specialize into sensory cilia. We have developed fluorescence live cell imaging methodologies to document Q neuroblast development; and we have also devised somatic TALEN and somatic CRISPR-Cas9 techniques to generate conditional mutations within Q cell lineages. In a combination with imaging, genetic and biochemical approaches, we discovered a new type of asymmetric cell division and its regulatory mechanisms; we illustrated the fate of midbody after asymmetric cell division; and we demonstrated the roles of actin-binding protein Coronin and Anillin and a transmembrane protein MIG-13 in organizing the actin cytoskeleton during neuroblast migration. Recently, we have identified the embryonically essential dynein subunits as key components in building neuronal cilia. We expect that our results can provide insights to mammalian neural development and may shed lights on the related diseases.