We aim at understanding the regulatory logic underlying the organization of a nervous system and the cell biology of neuronal morphogenesis. We are currently using the Touch Receptor Neurons and the ventral cord motor neurons of the nematode C. elegans to address this question.
The six touch receptor neurons (TRNs) are a set of mechanosensory neurons that mediate avoidance response upon gentle body touch. They have distinct cell fate, specialized microtubule structures, simple morphology, and characteristic circuit features. They serve as our gateway to understanding the mechanisms of neuronal differentiation.
The ventral cord motor neurons contain a diverse set of subtypes that have distinct lineage origin and wiring patterns. They serve as a model system for us to understand the genetic basis of neuronal subtype diversification.