Gary Bassell, PhD
Department of Cell Biology
The research interests of our laboratory are to understand the diverse and critical roles played by mRNA binding proteins and associated factors in the posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression in the nervous system, and investigate how these processes go awry in neurodevelopmental and neurodegenerative disorders. We investigate the normal mechanism, function and regulation of mRNA binding proteins in local protein synthesis needed for neuronal development and synaptic plasticity. We investigate pathomechanisms for Fragile X syndrome (FXS) and other autism spectrum disorders, as well as two motor neuron diseases: spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We are using mouse models of neurological diseases to assess the function of mRNA regulation and local protein synthesis in axon guidance, synapse development and neuronal signaling. Efforts are also underway to evaluate different therapeutic modalities in these mouse models of neurological diseases. Fragile X syndrome (FXS) is the most frequent inherited form of intellectual disability, and most common monogenetic cause of autism. Currently, we are investigating whether PI3K inhibitors and/or p110β antagonists can reverse synaptic and behavioral phenotypes in FXS mice. Our current findings suggest that targeting PI3K, which is currently used to treat cancer, might also be a promising therapy for FXS and other ASDs. Our research utilizes an integrated multi-disciplinary approach that involves cellular, molecular, biochemical, physiological, and behavioral methods and paradigms. These studies are expected to reveal new mechanisms important for neuronal development and function, and targeted approaches for therapeutic intervention that treat underlying molecular defects in SMA, Fragile X Syndrome and autism spectrum disorders.
I have published with the following Emory faculty:
Stephen Warren, Yue Feng, James Zheng, Arthur English, Robert Liu, Anita Corbett, Ken Moberg