Current Role at Stanford
Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery
Honors & Awards
Career Transition Award, National MS Society (2014-2019)
Postdoctoral Fellowship, Life Sciences Research Foundation (2011-2014)
Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery
Myelin is essential in vertebrates for the rapid propagation of action potentials, but the molecular mechanisms driving its formation remain largely unknown. Here we show that the initial stage of process extension and axon ensheathment by oligodendrocytes requires dynamic actin filament assembly by the Arp2/3 complex. Unexpectedly, subsequent myelin wrapping coincides with the upregulation of actin disassembly proteins and rapid disassembly of the oligodendrocyte actin cytoskeleton and does not require Arp2/3. Inducing loss of actin filaments drives oligodendrocyte membrane spreading and myelin wrapping in vivo, and the actin disassembly factor gelsolin is required for normal wrapping. We show that myelin basic protein, a protein essential for CNS myelin wrapping whose role has been unclear, is required for actin disassembly, and its loss phenocopies loss of actin disassembly proteins. Together, these findings provide insight into the molecular mechanism of myelin wrapping and identify it as an actin-independent form of mammalian cell motility.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.devcel.2015.06.011
View details for Web of Science ID 000358599400007
GPR126 is an orphan heterotrimeric guanine nucleotide-binding protein (G protein)-coupled receptor (GPCR) that is essential for the development of diverse organs. We found that type IV collagen, a major constituent of the basement membrane, binds to Gpr126 and activates its signaling function. Type IV collagen stimulated the production of cyclic adenosine monophosphate in rodent Schwann cells, which require Gpr126 activity to differentiate, and in human embryonic kidney (HEK) 293 cells expressing exogenous Gpr126. Type IV collagen specifically bound to the extracellular amino-terminal region of Gpr126 containing the CUB (complement, Uegf, Bmp1) and pentraxin domains. Gpr126 derivatives lacking the entire amino-terminal region were constitutively active, suggesting that this region inhibits signaling and that ligand binding relieves this inhibition to stimulate receptor activity. A new zebrafish mutation that truncates Gpr126 after the CUB and pentraxin domains disrupted development of peripheral nerves and the inner ear. Thus, our findings identify type IV collagen as an activating ligand for GPR126, define its mechanism of activation, and highlight a previously unrecognized signaling function of type IV collagen in basement membranes.
View details for DOI 10.1126/scisignal.2005347
View details for PubMedID 25118328
Myelination of the central nervous system requires the generation of functionally mature oligodendrocytes from oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPC). Electrically active neurons may influence OPC function and selectively instruct myelination of an active neural circuit. Here, we use optogenetic stimulation of premotor cortex in awake, behaving mice to demonstrate that neuronal activity elicits a mitogenic response of neural progenitor cells and OPCs, promotes oligodendrogenesis and increases myelination within the deep layers of the premotor cortex and subcortical white matter. We further show that this neuronal activity-regulated oligodendrogenesis and myelination is associated with improved motor function of the corresponding limb. Oligodendrogenesis and myelination appear necessary for the observed functional improvement, as epigenetic blockade of oligodendrocyte differentiation and myelin changes prevents the activity-regulated behavioral improvement.
View details for DOI 10.1126/science.1252304
View details for PubMedID 24727982
Dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRGs) are sensory neurons that reside in ganglions on the dorsal root of the spinal cord. Here we introduce a method for the acute, prospective purification and culture of DRGs from rodents in a serum-free, defined medium, in the absence of glial cells. This immunopanning-based method facilitates the study of DRG biology and function.
View details for DOI 10.1101/pdb.top073965
View details for PubMedID 25086024
Dorsal root ganglion neurons (DRGs) are sensory neurons that facilitate somatosensation and have been used to study neurite outgrowth, regeneration, and degeneration and PNS and CNS myelination. Studies of DRGs have relied on cell isolation strategies that generally involve extended culture in the presence of antimitotic agents or other cytotoxic treatments that target dividing cells. The surviving cells typically are dependent on serum for growth. Other methods, involving purification of DRGs based on their large size, produce low yield. In contrast, the immunopanning-based method described here for prospective isolation of DRGs from rodents allows for rapid purification in the absence of antimitotic agents and serum. These DRG cultures take place in a defined medium. They are free of Schwann cells and other glia and thus can be used to study the role of glia in the biology of DRG neurons.
View details for DOI 10.1101/pdb.prot074948
View details for PubMedID 25086011
Oligodendrocytes (OLs) are the myelinating glia of the central nervous system. Myelin is essential for the rapid propagation of action potentials as well as for metabolic support of axons, and its loss in demyelinating diseases like multiple sclerosis has profound pathological consequences. The many steps in the development of OLs - from the specification of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) during embryonic development to their differentiation into OLs that myelinate axons - are under tight regulation. Here we discuss recent advances in understanding how these steps of OL development are controlled intrinsically by transcription factors and chromatin remodeling and extrinsically by signaling molecules and neuronal activity. We also discuss how knowledge of these pathways is now allowing us to take steps toward generating patient-specific OPCs for disease modeling and myelin repair.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.conb.2013.06.005
View details for Web of Science ID 000328517800003
Transplantation of oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) is a promising potential therapeutic strategy for diseases affecting myelin. However, the derivation of engraftable OPCs from human pluripotent stem cells has proven difficult and primary OPCs are not readily available. Here we report the generation of induced OPCs (iOPCs) by direct lineage conversion. Forced expression of the three transcription factors Sox10, Olig2 and Zfp536 was sufficient to reprogram mouse and rat fibroblasts into iOPCs with morphologies and gene expression signatures resembling primary OPCs. More importantly, iOPCs gave rise to mature oligodendrocytes that could ensheath multiple host axons when co-cultured with primary dorsal root ganglion cells and formed myelin after transplantation into shiverer mice. We propose direct lineage reprogramming as a viable alternative approach for the generation of OPCs for use in disease modeling and regenerative medicine.
View details for DOI 10.1038/nbt.2564
View details for PubMedID 23584610
Myelin is a lipid-rich, spiraled membrane structure that allows for rapid propagation of action potentials through axons. In this issue, Aggarwal et al. (2011) present evidence that myelin basic protein, essential for myelination by oligodendrocytes, regulates the biosynthesis of myelin membranes by restricting diffusion of membrane-bound proteins into compact myelin.
View details for DOI 10.1016/j.devcel.2011.08.023
View details for PubMedID 21920305