The primary aim of research in the McLoon laboratory is to understand the cellular mechanisms responsible for development of the vertebrate nervous system with an emphasis on the visual system. The projects currently underway in the laboratory have three main focuses. First is to identify the mechanisms responsible for determination of cell fate in the developing retina. The aim of current work is to understand how the competence of progenitor cells changes during development so as to allow the initial onset of cell differentiation and later the termination of production of specific cell types (e.g. Silva et al., 2002 & 2003). The second area of work is to understand how the pattern of axonal connections develops between the retina in the eye and the central visual centers in the brain. This process has two steps. In the first step, retinal ganglion cells form a rough pattern of connections, which appears to be guided by certain molecules that encode position in the retina and brain. The second step involves refinement of the pattern of connections, such that aberrant connections are corrected or the cells giving rise to these connections are eliminated. The laboratory is working to identify the mechanisms involved in both steps of this process (e.g. Wu et al., 2001 and Jurney et al., 2002). The third area of work is new to the laboratory. Stem cells are being used in an effort to replace certain cell types in the retina as a potential clinical therapy for the most common types of blindness. Stem cells are being coaxed to recapitulate aspects of normal retinal development by treatment of the cells with certain factors and by introducing certain genes to the cells.
Most Cited Publications:
(For a comprehensive list of recent publications, refer to PubMed, a service provided by the National Library of Medicine.)
- Aaker JD, Patineau AL, Yang HJ, Ewart DT, Nakagawa Y, McLoon SC, Koyano-Nakagawa N. Interaction of MTG family proteins with NEUROG2 and ASCL1 in the developing nervous system. Neurosci Lett. 2010 Apr 19;474(1):46-51.
- Yang HJ, Silva AO, Koyano-Nakagawa N, McLoon SC. Progenitor cell maturation in the developing vertebrate retina. Dev Dyn. 2009;238(11):2823-36.
- Aaker JD, Patineau AL, Yang HJ, Ewart DT, Gong W, Li T, Nakagawa Y, McLoon SC, Koyano-Nakagawa N. Feedback regulation of NEUROG2 activity by MTGR1 is required for progression of neurogenesis. Mol Cell Neurosci. 2009;42(4):267-77.
- Silva, AO, Ercole CE, McLoon SC. Regulation of ganglion cell production by Notch signaling during retinal development. J. Neurobiol. 2003;54:511-524.
- Silva, AO, Ercole CE, McLoon SC. Plane of cell cleavage and Numb distribution during cell division relative to cell differentiation in the developing retina. J. Neurosci. 2002;22:7518-7525.
- Jurney WM, Gallo G, Letourneau PC, McLoon SC. Rac1 mediated endocytosis during Ephrin-A2 and Semaphorin 3A-induced growth cone collapse. J. Neurosci. 2002;22:6019-6028.
- Wu, HH, Selski D, El-Fakahany E, McLoon SC. The role of nitric oxide in development of the topographic precision in the retinotectal projection of chick. J. Neurosci. 2001;21:4318-4325.
Former Graduate Students:
Alan Ernst (Ph.D. 2001, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).
William Jurney (Ph.D. 2001, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).
Amila Silva (Ph.D. 1999, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).
David Waid (Ph.D. 1997, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).
Cheri Williams (Ph.D. 1992, Neuroscience, University of Minnesota).