The College of Natural Sciences at The University of Texas at Austin
The University of Texas at Austin

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Seema Agarwala
Associate Professor

Main Office: PAT 406
Phone: 232-4797

Alternate Office: PAT 410
Alt. Phone: 232-4890

Mailing Address
The University of Texas at Austin
Section of Molecular Cell and Developmental Biology
1 University Station CO920
Austin ,TX 78712

Seema Agarwala

Research Summary

During embryogenesis, neurons learn of their cell-fates and are assigned to specific brain nuclei (nucleogenesis), which organize brain connectivity and function. Little is known about how such complex patterning is achieved during vertebrate development. We study these processes in the mouse and chick midbrain, where clinically important nuclei such as the oculomotor complex (involved in eye movements) and midbrain dopaminergic neurons (involved in Parkinson's disease and addictive behaviors) reside. I have previously shown that the signaling molecule, Sonic Hedgehog, is sufficient to specify the entire ventral midbrain (organogenesis). We are now examining the downstream transcriptional mechanisms that allow this single molecule to specify multiple cell and nuclear fates. Experimental approaches include in vivo gene misexpression by electroporation (in chick and mouse), protein misexpression using coated-beads, and gene silencing by novel strategies such as RNA interference and morpholino oligonucleotides and microarray analyses. Manipulations in the chick are complemented with gene expression analyses of mutant chicks and mice with defects in midbrain patterning.



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