Labonne, Carole, PhD



Labonne, Carole, PhD




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Neurobiology; Soretta and Henry Shapiro Research Professor in Molecular Biology


Pancoe 3-411 Evanston

Areas of Research

Molecular Neuroscience, Neurobiology of Disease, Signal Transduction

NU Scholar Profile

Recent Publications on PubMed

Current Research

Current Research

My laboratory studies the cellular and molecular events underlying the formation, migration and differentiation of neural crest cells. These multipotent stem-cell-like embryonic precursor cells migrate extensively and give rise to an amazingly diverse set of derivatives in vertebrate embryos. Neural crest cells are important precursors of the peripheral nervous system, and give rise to a wide variety of neuronal and glial cell types. In addition, neural crest cells form a number of important non-neuronal derivatives including melanocytes, craniofacial bone and cartilage and smooth muscle. This remarkable diversity makes the neural crest an exciting system in which to investigate the mechanisms by which cells make decisions about their fate.

What are the signals that underlie the induction and early development of the neural crest? What triggers these cells to begin their migration and what signals dictate the routes they will follow? What mechanisms control the cell fate decisions of neural crest cells? These are the types of questions my laboratory addresses. Most of these studies are carried out on Xenopus embryos using a combination of powerful techniques including RNA and DNA injection into early embryos, explant culture, tissue grafting and sophisticated biological imaging. We study the role played by a number of known genes in these processes, including members of the Wnt and BMP signaling pathways and the zinc-finger transcription factors Slug and Snail. We are also taking an expression screening approach in order to identify novel regulators of neural crest development. Such studies are essential to understanding vertebrate development and have added importance due to the central role that neural crest cells play in a number of birth defects and cancers.