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John Wood

Department of Cell and Developmental Biology

Molecular genetics of sensory neurons

We are interested in the development and function of peripheral sensory neurons, particularly those that respond to tissue damage (nociceptors). We are using molecular genetic approaches to define transcription factors, regulatory proteins, receptors and ion channels expressed specifically by these cells. In this way we hope to define the genetic regulatory mechanisms that specify this particular neuronal phenotype. Blocking nociceptor-specific gene expression provides an attractive approach to some forms of pain therapy


A number of possible projects exist at the moment:

  • a developmental analysis of the regulation of expression of neuron specific markers in neural crest cell commitment,
  • the construction and analysis of null mutant mice that no longer express certain voltage-gated sodium channels in nociceptors,
  • the expression and role of cyclic nucleotide-gated cation channels in nociceptors,
  • a promoter analysis of 4 sensory neuron-specific transcripts.

Candidates would obtain a strong training in the application of recombinant DNA technology to neurobiological problems.


Akopian A.N., Sivilotti L. and Wood J.N. (1996) A tetrodotoxin-resistant sodium channel expressed by C-fibre associated sensory neurons. Nature in press January 1996.

Akopian A.N. and Wood J.N. (1995) Peripheral nervous system-specific genes identified by subtractive cloning. J. Biol. Chem. 270, 21264-70

Chen Chih-Cheng, Akopian A., Sivilloti L., Colquhoun D., Burnstock G. and Wood J.N. (1995) A subset of sensory neurons express a novel P2X receptor. Nature 377, 428-432.


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