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Glial contribution to synaptic dynamics and diseases

Updated: Sep 28, 2020

The nervous system comprises two broad classes of cells: neurons and glia. Neuroscientists once believed that only neurons were responsible for information processing, and glia were merely supportive. This dogma is now being challenged, as recent studies have shown that glia are integral to neuronal circuit reorganization and are implicated in many neuropathologies.

My early work explored the role of terminal Schwann cells in developing and aging neuromuscular junctions. Our recent work investigates the role of glia in excitatory synaptic transmission and structural plasticity. We showed the involvement of glial related signals in experience-dependent spine formation and stability. We also found that the expression of the Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein in astrocytes is necessary, but insufficient, for normal synaptic development and neuronal functions.

Example Papers

  • Yu X, Wang G, Gilmore A, Yee AX, Li X, Xu T, Smith SJ, Chen L and Zuo Y (2013) Accelerated experience-dependent pruning of cortical synapses in ephrin-A2 KO mice. Neuron 80:64-71

  • Hodges JL, Yu X, Gilmore A, Li X, Perna JF, Tjia M, Chen C-C, Bennett H, Lu J and Zuo Y (2017) Astrocytic contributions to synaptic and learning abnormalities in a mouse model of Fragile X Syndrome. Biol. Psychiatry 82(2):139-149

  • Zemmar A, Chen C-C, Weinmann O, Kast B, Vajda F, Bozeman J, Isaad N, Zuo Y, Schwab ME (2018) Oligodendrocyte- and neuron-specific Nogo-A restrict dendritic branching and spine density in the adult mouse motor cortex. Cereb. Cortex 28(6):2109-2117

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