Mechanisms of growth factor signalling
Normal development requires highly specific and co-ordinated growth factor signaling. Precise control of signaling is dependent on a number of factors, such as presentation of the ligand, receptor structure and activation, the expression of co-receptors and adaptor molecules, and the negative control or inhibition of signaling. One focus of our laboratory is to investigate growth factor signalling and how it is positively and negatively regulated. In particular, we focus on the neurotrophins Nerve Growth Factor (NGF) and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
We are currently investigating a number of aspects of neurotrophin signalling, including the form in which the neurotrophins are presented, as well as a number of novel molecules that interact with neurotrophin receptors. We have several projects investigating how neurotrophin signalling is regulated by these molecules, which include:
- The precursor form of the neurotrophins, and their impact on cell signaling.
- The Spred and Sprouty proteins, inhibitors of growth factor signalling.
- The Neurotrophin Receptor Homolog, which modulates neurotrophin signaling.
- The Sorting Nexin (SNX) proteins, which regulate the cellular location of receptors.
This project will utilise in vitro approaches, such as tissue culture techniques, cellular transfection, immunocytochemistry, SDS-PAGE and Western blotting, immunoprecipitation, PCR and cDNA mutagenesis. The aim of this project is to identify novel aspects of neurotrophin signalling that could influence some of the vitally important cellular events that the neurotrophins regulate to control the development and growth of the mammalian nervous system. Analyses such as these could provide new insights and develop into approaches that may be utilised to halt the progression of degenerative neurological diseases.
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