Simon Moore, "The importance of mechanical forces & mechano-transduction for axon guidance"

Feb 06, 2013 (Wed) | 12:00 PM -2:00 PM
318 Campus Drive West : Stanford, CA

In order to establish the intricate connectivity of the nervous system, neurons extend long, thin protrusions known as axons that navigate through a complex chemical and mechanical landscape to reach specific targets. At the leading tip of a growing axon, a structure known as the growth cone senses chemical guidance cues and generates traction forces on the surrounding environment. My research explores the mechanics of axon guidance using tools that apply and report local pico-Newton strength forces of live embryonic mouse neurons. I have found that the growth cone evaluates the mechanical context of the guidance cue netrin-1 using the intracellular protein Focal Adhesion Kinase. This information is critically important for the growth cone’s decision to build the adhesive contacts and forces that direct axon growth. Many aspects of the interplay between mechanical forces and chemical cues remain unclear. My future research seeks to clarify these issues by examining localized pico-Newton strength forces in relation to the super-resolved biochemical events of live neurons. This research contributes to accumulating evidence that mechanical forces regulate a variety of cellular processes, including cell migration, cellular differentiation, and synapse function.

Department:  Biology

Contact: May Chin | 650-725-1827 |


  • Simon Moore Columbia University