Cytoskeletal dynamics in mechanically loaded sensory neurons

Friday, March 4, 2011 - 1:15pm - 2:15pm
Reiss 261A
Sameer B. Shah
Department of Bioengineering, U. Maryland

The axonal cytoskeleton is a well organized heterogeneous scaffold composed of polymer filaments. This scaffold passively bears externally and internally applied loads, but also contributes to force generation as the substrate for the action of motor proteins. Cytoskeletal dynamics have been explored in other cell types, especially during crawling in motile cells and in the growth cone of neurons, but have rarely been imaged in the axon. This talk has two parts. In the first, we will examine mechanisms underlying the mobility of actin within the axon, based on quantitative analysis of movies of sensory neurons expressing fluorecently labeled actin. In the second, we will examine cytoskeletal deformations in response to mechanical loading. Results from our work support the idea that the axon is a dynamic and heterogeneous structure. We also propose testable hypotheses about the interaction of the actin and microtubule cytoskeleton in the broader context of development and disease.