Academic Unit: College of Science
Title: Assistant Professor
Professional degrees (Degree, year, Institution): D.Phil., 1994, Oxford University
Mail Stop: 314
Developmental Biology, Neurobiology, Genetics
The cells of our nervous system are separated by large distances and have to be connected to one another by wiring capable of carrying electrical or chemical signals. The individual fibers of the wiring are known as axons, and in the early embryo they have to navigate large distances to connect up the nervous system. Understanding the mechanisms they use to navigate is of great interest, not only for understanding how our brains form, but also as a starting point to devise ways to stimulate the re-growth of axons after injury, especially spinal cord injuries.
The focus of the lab is to identify novel navigational cues and receptors for axons. The approach we use is to knock out gene functions in the fruit fly and examine the effects on the trajectories of growing nerves. The well-developed genetics of the fruit fly allows us to dissect the mechanisms at single axon resolution. A major area of interest is the fruit fly equivalent of the spinal cord, the ventral nerve cord, particularly the formation of connections between the left and right hand sides of the nervous system. We are also interested in the formation of the nervous system that controls the digestive tract.
Almost all of the genes identified in the fly have been found to have equivalent genes active in forming the vertebrate spinal cord. Mutations in these genes have been proposed to underlie conditions ranging from scoliosis to dyslexia, and the fly experiments have helped to illuminate their functions. Our current work may lead to a better understanding of the congenital heart defects seen in Down Syndrome patients. In the future, by analyzing the behavior of fruit fly mutants, I would like to be able to predict what effects human mutations might have on behavior. I am also interested in the genetics of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, a human neurodegenerative condition in which the nerves engage in failed attempts to regenerate.
Current Graduate Students
Other Lab Members
Mandy Miller (undergraduate researcher)
Kidd T, Bland KS, Goodman CS. (1999). Slit is the midline repellent for
the robo receptor in Drosophila. Cell 96:785-94.
Brose K, Bland KS, Wang KH, Arnott D, Henzel W, Goodman CS, Tessier-Lavigne
M, Kidd T. (1999). Slit proteins bind Robo receptors and have an evolutionarily
conserved role in repulsive axon guidance. Cell 96:795-806.
Farmer WT, Altick AL, Nural HF, Dugan JP, Kidd T, Charron F, Mastick GS.
(2008). Pioneer longitudinal axons navigate using floor plate and Slit/Robo
signals. Development 135:3643-53.
Andrews GL, Tanglao S, Farmer WT, Morin S, Brotman S, Berberoglu M, Price
H, Fernandez GC, Mastick GS, Charron F, Kidd T. (2008). Dscam guides embryonic
axons by Netrin-dependent and –independent functions. Development 135:3839-48.
Cavalcanti F, Kidd T, Patitucci A, Valentino P, Bono F, Nistico R, Quattrone A. (2009). An Axon Regeneration Signature in a Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Type 2 Patient. Journal of Neurogenetics, epub ahead of print.
Faculty by research area
- Mastick, C
- Mastick C.
- Mastick G.
- Van der Linden
- von Bartheld
- von Bartheld