Welcome to the Diaz Lab
Functional Genomics of Nervous System Development
My lab's main research interest is to understand molecular mechanisms of neural development using a rodent model system. In particular, my lab is interested in two areas: neural proliferation and synapse development. We used DNA microarrays as a tool to identify genes that are developmentally regulated during postnatal cerebellum development. We have identified several candidate molecules that increase in gene expression during the period of neural proliferation or synapse formation and we are currently studying the role of two molecules (Mad3 and synDIG1) in these processes.
Mad3 and neural proliferation:
SynDIG1 and synapse formation:
During development, synapse formation relies on signaling between pre- and postsynaptic neurons and the expression of specific genes. Synapse Differentiation Induced Gene (synDIG1) was identified as a gene upregulated during synapse development whose upregulation failed in a mutant mouse line with defects in synaptic differentiation. We have shown that synDIG1 encodes a novel, postsynaptic transmembrane protein that is a critical regulator of synapse development in cultured hippocampal neurons. Interestingly, synDIG defines a family of four genes within the mouse genome that are expressed in distinct and partially overlapping cell types within nervous sytem tissues. Intriguingly, overexpression or knock-down of synDIG1 in cultured neurons alters the electrophysiological properties of excitatory synaptic transmission, presumably by the altered trafficking of AMPA receptors. Our current research aims are: 1) to generate and characterize mice with a conditional deletion of the synDIG1 gene; 2) to identify synDIG1-interacting proteins; and 3) to test if synDIG1 is subject to activity-dependent regulation at synapses.
Graduate Studies at UC Davis
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