The Cave laboratory studies mechanisms regulating the proliferation and differentiation of neural stem cells in the post-natal and adult brain. Our long-term goal is to apply this mechanistic knowledge to the treatment of neurological disease and injury.
Our studies focus on neural stem cells in the adult subventricular zone of the lateral ventricles, which generate both neuronal and glial progenitors during post-natal development as well as part of regenerative processes in the normal and pathological adult brain. The laboratory uses molecular biological and genetic approaches with both in vivo and in vitro systems.
Recent studies have revealed a novel role for nucleic acid secondary structures in the control of synaptic activity-dependent gene expression for dopaminergic and GABAergic neurons produced by SVZ neural secondary structures modify adult SVZ neural stem cell proliferation and differentiation as well as how these structures may regulate the mRNA transport within the axons.
The laboratory is also currently investigating molecular mechanisms that maintain neural stem cells in a proliferative state, and how astrocytes in other brain regions may use these mechanisms to become proliferative following injury.