The development of the nervous system is a complex process involving cell division, neuronal specification, migration, and synapse formation. Building a well-functioning nervous system requires the precise developmental expression of genes. To investigate genes that are important for regulating the excitability, our lab is using Drosophila to uncover the developmental pathways leading to epilepsy. Our laboratory is also collaborating with the Levitan lab on neuropeptide mobility and secretion.
Approximately 50 million people worldwide suffer from epilepsy. While there are many different types of seizures, uncontrolled neural activity is shared by all forms of epilepsy. A class of Drosophila mutants, known as bang-sensitives, reproduces many aspects of the human disease. My laboratory recently identified a novel gene, julius seizure (jus), that causes seizures when mutated. We are currently identifying proteins that interact with Jus in order to identify the molecular pathways of epileptogenesis. To hear more about this work on the Locally Sourced Science podcast click here.