Dysfunction of mRNA translation and neurodegeneration
The goal of the Ackerman laboratory is to define the molecular pathways necessary to maintain homeostasis in both developing and aging mammalian neurons. To do this they utilize forward genetics to identify mutations that are associated with loss of neurons in the aging mouse brain. To further dissect pathways underlying homeostatic disruption and disease, they also use forward genetics to identify genetic variants that enhance or suppress neural phenotypes. Their approach allows the identification, without a priori assumptions, of molecules critical for neuron homeostasis and survival, and indeed they have discovered disruptions in several novel pathways that were not previously associated with loss of neuronal function or survival. The Ackerman lab is particularly interested in the role of alterations in translation elongation, translational fidelity, proteostasis, and RNA metabolism in neuronal function.
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