Prof Andrew FurleyPh.D.
Professor of Developmental Neuroscience
Cell adhesion, SHH signalling, Axon guidance, neural stem cell, cerebellum
Our research is focussed on the role L1CAM-like cell adhesion molecules (L1-CNTNs) in neural development and disease (Gennarini et al., 2017; Gennarini & Furley., 2017). L1-CNTNs affect neural function at all stages, including the earliest proliferation and differentiation of progenitor and stem cells (Bizzoca et al 2003; Ma et al 2008; Xenaki et al., 2011; Bizzoca et al., 2012; Ha et al., 2015), the guidance of axons (Cohen et al 1998; Law et al 2008; Dang et al 2012), through to firing of action potentials (Poliak et al 2003) and functioning of synapses (Bliss et al 2000). As a result, these molecules are widely implicated in neurological disease and cancers.
Our aim is to understand the cellular mechanisms through which L1-CNTNs affect this wide variety of processes. Our current work is focussed particularly on the role of NrCAM in regulating the Sonic Hedgehog (SHH) pathway in medulloblastoma (Sakurai et al., 2001; Xenaki et al., 2011) and in neural stem cells (Bizzoca et al., 2012), with a specific emphasis on its role in controlling the trafficking of SHH pathway components into and out of primary cilia.