Elizabeth Crummy


Summer Research Description:  Adult neurogenesis is critical to maintaining synaptic plasticity, memory function, and is implicated in recovery after injuries such as strokes or seizures. For neurogenesis to occur, clearance of dead cells through phagocytosis is necessary. Two niches, the subventricular zone (SVZ) of the lateral ventricles and the subgranular zone in the dentate gyrus, both involved in learning and memory, have active neurogenesis occurring. Previous studies indicate that neuronal progenitors serve as phagocytes in neurogenic niches of the brain, along with increased proliferation of these cells occurring within neurogenic niches.  To examine if the proliferative capacity of neural precursor cells (NPCs) relates to their potential involvement as phagocytes for apoptotic cell clearance, the effects of engulfed materials will be explored. It is hypothesized that NPCs will exhibit increased proliferation with exposure to apoptotic targets. NPCs will be obtained from SVZ tissues in postnatal (p6) B6 mice. Experiments examine NPC proliferation in response to apoptotic HeLa cells, conditioned media from these cells or both conditions. Microbeads will be utilized for NPC treatments to determine the significance of engulfment on NPC proliferation. Determining NPC proliferative responses to phagocytic stimuli, and elucidating the mechanisms behind it, will provide greater insight into adult neurogenesis in the SVZ.