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Roman Giger

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Primary Appointment: Cell and Developmental Biology
Primary PIBS Dept.: Cell and Developmental Biology
PubMed Name: giger rj
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  A long standing goal of our research is to understand how neuronal growth and sprouting is regulated in the mammalian nervous system during development, adult neuronal plasticity, and following injury (i.e. spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury, stroke or multiple sclerosis). We pursue a mouse genetic approach to study the function of different classes of proteins known to regulate neuronal growth and plasticity. In the hippocampus we study the role of Semaphorin family members and their cognate receptors (Neuropilins and Plexins) in developmentally-born and adult-born dentate granule neurons.

The Nogo receptors NgR1, NgR2, and NgR3 have been implicated in neuronal responses toward CNS regeneration inhibitors, including Nogo/RTN4, myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG), oligodendrocyte-myelin glycoprotein (OMgp), and chondroitin sulfate proteglycans (CSPGs). Blockage of the interactions of NgR family members with CNS regeneration inhibitors attenuates growth cone collapse in vitro, and NgR compound mutants exhibit enhanced axon regeneration following injury to optic nerve in vivo. Curiously, NgR1, Nogo-A, and OMpg are found at synapses. We identified novel functions for the NgR1/Nogo and NgR1/OMgp interactions in regulating activity-dependent synaptic strength. Ongoing studies are aimed at understanding the mechanisms of how CNS regeneration inhibitors regulate synaptic function and morphology.

A third line of investigation is focused on mechanisms of axon-glia interaction during nervous system development, adult homeostasis and disease such as Multiple Sclerosis. Myelin-associated glycoprotein (MAG) has axon protective function in vivo, however, the mechanisms of MAG mediated axon protection are poorly understood. We identified low-density lipoprotein related receptor-1 (LRP1) and the Nogo receptor family member NgR2 as a high affinity receptors for MAG. We are currently investigating the role of these receptors in MAG mediated axon protection.