The establishment of the intricate wiring of the nervous system relies on filopodial navigation to form complex interconnections between neurons. Until recently, cellular level investigations into filopodial dynamics had focused primarily on axonal growth cone filopodia. Here we focus on their oft ignored cousins—dendritic filopodia, and the cues that guide their development. While being implicated in crucial developmental processes of dendritic morphogenesis, spinogenesis and synaptogenesis, these filopodia have received only limited attention. Our long-term goal is to advance our understanding of the processes that define and modulate the connectivity of neurons in the mammalian brain, with our overall objective being the elucidation of the underlying filopodial dynamics as governed by chemical guidance cues.
Anika Jain is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Cell and Developmental Biology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Before joining U of I, She pursued her undergraduate studies at Panjab University, India, completing a B.E. in Biotechnology in 2007. She is currently working with Prof. Martha Gillette towards furthering understanding of the processes that define and modulate the connectivity of neurons in the mammalian brain. She is specifically interested in examining the factors influencing the development of dendritic filopodia, which are dynamic, thread-like protrusions of the cell membrane of neuronal dendrites, using microfluidic culture systems. When not peering through the microscope at neurons, She can be found digging deeper into matter, following recent developments in the field of particle physics. Other interests outside the lab include astronomy, reading, trekking and bungee jumping.
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1000 MNTL, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL