The Shaw laboratory aims to understand processes involved in embryogenesis and in nervous system development. The lab focusses their research on the model organism C. elegans, since it is simple animal, with very well-described development and nervous system wiring.
Currently, the lab studies the role that gap junctional communication plays in animal embryogenesis. Gap junctions allow direct intercellular communication through channels that permit small molecules, such as second messenger signals, ions and metabolites to pass between cells. Although gap junctions are present in all types of embryonic cells in animals, their function in embryonic development is not understood. The lab is investigating several gap junction genes, which are essential for normal development, to understand the processes for which they are required.
The lab's investigation into nervous system development involves analyzing mutants whose nervous systems function abnormally. Interests include genes that are required for proper neuronal structure, proper axonal guidance, and proper neuronal connections. Of particular interest, is a gap junction gene that is required for the proper specificity of electrical coupling between neurons. The lab is analyzing the roles that this gene plays in regulating neuronal connections.
Approaches used in the Shaw lab to analyze gene function include genetics, microscopy, cell lineage analysis, laser killing of specific cells, molecular biology and immunocytochemistry.
Selected Publications (Pubmed Search)
Maniar T.A., Kaplan M., Wang G.J., Shen K., Wei L., Shaw J.E., Koushika S.P., Bargmann C.I. (2011) UNC-33 (CRMP) and ankyrin organize microtubules and localize kinesin to polarize axon-dendrite sorting. Nat Neurosci. 15: 48-56. doi: 10.1038/nn.2970.
Starich T.A., Xu J., Skerrit I.M., Nicholoson B.J., and Shaw J.E. (2009) Interactions between innexins UNC-7 and UNC-9 mediate electrical synapse specificity in the Caenorhabditis elegans locomotory nervous system. Neural Development 4:16
Von Stetina, S.E., R.M. Fox, K.L. Watkins, T.A. Starich, J.E. Shaw and D.M. Miller III (2007) UNC-4 represses CEH-12/HB9 to specify synaptic inputs to VA motor neurons in C. elegans. Genes & Dev. 21:332-346.
Bell L.R., S. Stone, J.Yochem, J. E. Shaw, and R. K. Herman (2006) The molecular identities of the Caenorhabditis elegans intraflagellar transport genes dyf-6, daf-10, and osm-1. Genetics 173:1275-1286.
Spartz AK, RK Herman and JE Shaw (2004) SMU-2 and SMU-1, C. elegans homologs of mammalian spliceosome-associated proteins RED and fSAP57, work together to affect splice-site choice. Mol. Cell. Bio. 24: 6811-6823.
Starich, T.A., A. Miller, R.L. Nguyen, D.H. Hall and J.E. Shaw. (2003)The Caenorhabditis elegans innexin INX-3 is localized to gap junctions and is essential for embryonic development. Developmental Biology 256:403-417.