New Research Fellow joins NUS group to lead drug discovery efforts for transmembrane receptors

Vanessa Rodrigues holds a PhD in Pathology and Molecular Genetics from ICBAS, University of Porto, Portugal, with a thesis work entitled “Understanding P-glycoprotein mediated multidrug resistance in cancer: new potential targets, biomarkers and molecular inhibitors”.  Vanessa joins the NUS group to lead a drug discovery program to identify novel chemical probes targeting p75NTR, TrkB and ALK7 receptors.

 

New Research Fellow joins NUS group to investigate p75NTR signaling mechanisms

Ajeena Ramanujan holds a PhD from the Jawaharlal Nehru University, India, for work on the interaction between FZR1 and the Retinoblastoma protein in the control of cell-cycle regulation, under the direction of A/Prof Swati Tiwari. Ajeena is joining the NUS group to lead investigations on p75NTR signaling mechanisms involving RhoGDI and RhoA proteins and their actions on the cell cytoskeleton and neurite outgrowth control.

Joint retreat of NUS and KI labs in Singapore

Fellows from the KI lab flew to Singapore for a 2 day retreat with the NUS group on 16th and 17th of January 2017. After 4 years of joint lab meetings over Skype, fellows of both groups enjoyed an opportunity to discuss common projects and ideas face to face. We were joined by the NUS and UCSD groups of Prof. Ed Koo and had joint plenary and also parallel sessions, as well as group building activities, as shown in the photo below.

 

Open Postdoctoral Positions

UPDATE 2017-05-29: The positions have been filled. 

Postdoc/Research Fellows are being recruited to our NUS laboratory. We are seeking talented, innovative and enthusiastic researchers with a PhD awarded within the last 5 years.

Cell signaling

The successful candidate will have a strong background in studies of cell signaling using molecular, cellular and biochemical methods. The aim of the project is to elucidate mechanisms of differential signaling by death receptors through the NFkB, c-Jun kinase and RhoA GTPase pathways, among others, taking advantage of recent knowledge on structure-function relationships in this class of receptors as well as a large collection of mutants developed at our laboratory. Strong expertise in cell and molecular biology techniques is essential. Additional expertise in live cell imaging will also be an asset to the project.

Drug Discovery

The successful candidate will have a strong background in studies of intracellular signaling involving biochemical assays, gene reporter assays and microscopy techniques. The aim of the project is the identification and characterisation of novel small molecule modulators (inhibitors and activators) of growth factor receptor signaling taking advantage of a novel screening strategy developed in the laboratory based on recent knowledge on the mechanisms of activation and downstream signal propagation of death receptors and receptors of the TGFb superfamily. Strong expertise in cell and molecular biology techniques is essential. Additional expertise in small molecule screening and/or chemistry will also be an asset to the project.

Applications, including CV, list of publications and statement of future interests should be sent to Prof. Carlos Ibanez . Applicants should arrange to have at least two confidential letters of reference sent independently by referees to this email address.

Funding is available for an initial period of 2 to 3 years, starting any time during 2017.

Deadline for the application is March 07, 2017.

New paper shows novel function of the GFRα1 receptor

In this new paper, we show how the GFRα1 receptor regulates Purkinje cell migration independently of GDNF or RET, by limiting the function of NCAM. The paper has just been published in Cell Reports.

During embryonic development of the cerebellum, Purkinje cells (PCs) migrate away from the ventricular zone to form the PC plate. The mechanisms that regulate PC migration are incompletely understood. Here, we report that the neurotrophic receptor GFRα1 is transiently expressed in developing PCs and loss of GFRα1 delays PC migration. Neither GDNF nor RET, the canonical GFRα1 ligand and co-receptor, respectively, contribute to this process. Instead, we found that the neural cell adhesion molecule NCAM is co-expressed and directly interacts with GFRα1 in embryonic PCs. Genetic reduction of NCAM expression enhances wild-type PC migration and restores migration in Gfra1 mutants, indicating that NCAM restricts PC migration in the embryonic cerebellum. In vitro experiments indicated that GFRα1 can function both in cis and trans to counteract NCAM and promote PC migration. Collectively, our studies show that GFRα1 contributes to PC migration by limiting NCAM function.

Read the full paper HERE.

New paper shows how thalamo-cortical axons regulate the radial dispersion of neocortical GABAergic interneurons

In our latest paper, we show how thalamo-cortical axons regulate the radial dispersion of neocortical GABAergic interneurons. The paper has just been published in eLife.

Neocortical GABAergic interneuron migration and thalamo-cortical axon (TCA) pathfinding follow similar trajectories and timing, suggesting they may be interdependent. The mechanisms that regulate the radial dispersion of neocortical interneurons are incompletely understood. In this new study we report that disruption of TCA innervation, or TCA-derived glutamate, affected the laminar distribution of GABAergic interneurons in mouse neocortex, resulting in abnormal accumulation in deep layers of interneurons that failed to switch from tangential to radial orientation. Expression of the KCC2 cotransporter was elevated in interneurons of denervated cortex, and KCC2 deletion restored normal interneuron lamination in the absence of TCAs. Disruption of interneuron NMDA receptors or pharmacological inhibition of calpain also led to increased KCC2 expression and defective radial dispersion of interneurons. Thus, although TCAs are not required to guide the tangential migration of GABAergic interneurons, they provide crucial signals that restrict interneuron KCC2 levels, allowing coordinated neocortical invasion of TCAs and interneurons.

Read the full paper HERE. (Supplemental information 31.6MB)

Two new Research Assistants join NUS group

Shuhailah Salim holds a Bachelor in Science from Nanyang Technological University. She did a research internship at the Institute of Molecular and Cell biology (IMCB, A*STAR). She joins our NUS group to support biochemical, tissue culture and drug screening studies.

New Chih Sheng holds a Bachelor in Science from the University of Toronto. He did a research internship at the Institute of Molecular and Cell biology (IMCB, A*STAR). She joins our NUS group to support our metabolism research projects with mouse genotyping and tissue culture.

New Research Fellow joins NUS group to investigate p75NTR-mediated neurodegeneration mechanisms

Yi Chenju holds a Bachelor in Clinical Medicine from Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China, a PhD in Neurology form the same institution and an MD from the Institute of Brain Research, University of Tübingen, Germany. She performed postdoctoral studies at College de France under the direction of Drs. Christian Gaume and Annette Koulakoff. Chenju is joining the NUS group to lead investigations on p75NTR-mediated mechanisms of neurodegeneration in mouse models of Alzheimer’s disease.

 

New paper demonstrates requirement of p75NTR death domain and transmembrane cysteine for neuronal death in the CNS

In our latest paper, we show how dimers of the p75NTR neurotrophin receptor are indipensable for p75NTR-mediated cell death in the central nervous system. The paper has justg been published in the Journal of Neuroscience.

The oligomeric state and activation mechanism that enable p75 NTR to mediate these effects have recently been called into question. In this new study, we have investigated mutant mice lacking the p75NTR death domain (DD) or a highly conserved transmembrane (TM) cysteine residue (Cys 259) implicated in receptor dimerization and activation. Neuronal death induced by proneurotrophins or epileptic seizures was assessed and compared with responses in p75NTR knock-out mice and wild-type animals. Proneurotrophins induced apoptosis of culturedhippocampalandcorticalneuronsfromwild-typemice,butmutantneuronslackingp75NTR,onlythep75NTR DD,orjustCys259 were all equally resistant to proneurotrophin-induced neuronal death. Homo-FRET anisotropy experiments demonstrated that both NGF and proNGF induce conformational changes in p75 NTR that are dependent on the TM cysteine. In vivo, neuronal death induced by pilocarpine-mediated seizures was significantly reduced in the hippocampus and somatosensory, piriform, and entorhinal cortices of all three strains of p75 NTR mutant mice. Interestingly, the levels of protection observed in mice lacking the DD or only Cys 259 were identical to those of p75 NTR knock-out mice even though the Cys 259 mutant differed from the wild-type receptor in only one amino acid residue. We conclude that,bothinvitroandinvivo,neuronaldeathinducedbyp75NTR requirestheDDandTMCys259,supportingthephysiological relevance of DD signaling by disulfide-linked dimers of p75NTR in the CNS.

Read the full paper HERE.

Open position: Research Assistant

UPDATE 01-06-2016: The position has been filled.

A Research Assistant/Associate is currently being recruited to our laboratory in the Centre for Life Sciences, National University of Singapore, Kent Ridge campus.

The successful candidate will be a dynamic, service-minded person, with a solid research background in molecular biology, tissue culture, histological techniques and/or mouse genetics methods. He/she will have a strong presence in the laboratory by assisting the group with experimental lab routines as well as conducting research together with other lab members or independently, including:

  • maintenance of mouse colonies and genotyping
  • histological studies
  • molecular biology studies
  • tissue culture studies

Applications including CV  and names plus email addresses of three referees should be sent by email to Prof. Carlos Ibanez 

Deadline: MAY 21st, 2016

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Death Domain Signaling by Disulfide-Linked Dimers of the p75 Neurotrophin Receptor Mediates Neuronal Death in the CNS

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