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Christiana Ruhrberg

Institute of Ophthalmology Neurovascular connections

The Ruhrberg lab investigates the molecular pathways that control the co-patterning of the cell types that form the central, peripheral and autonomous nervous system, in particular the interaction of neuronal precursors, glial cells and blood vessel endothelium during develoment. The PhD student will combine tissue culture methods with the analysis of genetic models that selectively impair specific aspects of VEGF and neuropilin signalling. The Ruhrberg lab has joint research projects with other UC Neuroscience labs (Parnavelas, Jessen)..

Available Projects:

  1. The angiogenic niche of neurogenesis: VEGF and blood vessels are thought to promote neurogenesis by supporting the creation of a neural stem cell niche. However, the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying this niche remain to be defined.
  2. Boundary cap cells provide a source of neurons and glial cells to the embryonic PNS, but have the capacity to act as stem cells for neural regeneration. Their proliferation and differentiation is regulated by VEGF/NRP1 signalling, but the underlying mechanism needs to be defined.
  3. We have found that microglia control blood vessel growth in the CNS. The molecular signals that coordinate their interaction needs to be defined.

Figure: Microglia interact with growing blood vessels in the CNS. Angiogenesis the process by which new blood vessels in the CNS sprout from pre-existing ones and fuse to each other to add new circuits to expand the vascular network. This image represents a three dimensional reconstruction of a microglial cell interacting with an angiogenic blood vessel. The macrophage (green) contacts a filopodium extending from an endothelial cell (vascular endothelium is shown in red).

Selected references (a complete list can be accessed via the Lab web page link below):

Schwarz Q, Maden C, Vieira, J M, Ruhrberg C (2009). Neuropilin 1 signalling guides neural crest cells to coordinate pathway choice with cell specification. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A106:6164-6169.

Schwarz Q, Vieira JM, Howard B, Eickholt B and Ruhrberg C (2008). Neuropilin 1 and neuropilin 2 control cranial gangliogenesis and axon guidance through neural crest cells. Development135:1605-1613.

Vieira JM, Schwarz Q and Ruhrberg C (2007). Selective requirements for neuropilin ligands in neurovascular development. Development134 (10): 1833-1843.

Schwarz Q, Gu C, Fujisawa H, Sabelko K, Gertsenstein, M, Nagy A, Taniguchi M, Kolodkin AL, Ginty DD, Shima DT and Ruhrberg C (2004). Vascular endothelial growth factor controls neuronal migration and cooperates with Sema3A to pattern distinct compartments of the facial nerve. Genes & Development18:2822-2834.

Lab web page

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