LMCB - MRC Laboratory for Molecular Cell Biology

Chiara Mencarelli's picture

Research Associate, Pichaud Lab


Europe PMC | PubMed | LinkedIn

Research Synopsis

My long-standing interest has always been understanding how biological systems work. Throughout my PhD and postdoctoral research, I have gained much knowledge of the concepts and fundamental processes in developmental neurobiology. My postdoctoral work at the LMCB focuses on how neurons polarize to form a single axon and multiple dendrites, the cellular morphology upon which neuronal circuits are built and along which electrical signals are propagated. Using in vitro (primary rat neuron culture) and in vivo (rodents and Drosophila melanogaster) approaches, together with large-scale genetic screens, advanced microscopy, and manipulation of protein subcellular localization, this work is helping to uncover the complex ways in which neurons polarize their cortex and plasma membrane into functionally distinct domains. Most recently, I have focused on axonal development and nuclear export. Working with colleagues at the LMCB, we have identified a novel mechanism that neurons use to establish their polar shape.  We found that developing neurons set up an asymmetric nucleo-cytoplasmic transport to direct macromolecules towards their nascent axon. Although we discovered this in neurons, we are now finding that the same mechanism likely contributes to the polarization of multiple cell types.


2012 | PhD in Neuroimmunology, Maastricht University, The Netherlands
2007 | MSc Medical Biotechnology, University of Florence, Italy 


Medical Research Council

Research Themes

Polarity & cell shape, Signalling pathways, Cell-cell interactions, Neuronal development


Light microscopy, Super-resolution microscopy, Molecular cell biology, Biochemistry