F A C U L T Y   P R O F I L E 

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Associate Professor of Physiology & Cellular Biophysics

Mechanisms of dendritic morphogenesis and patterning.


Grueber Lab

Current Research

Dendrites and axons show extraordinarily diverse forms, with important implications for nervous system wiring and neuronal function. Our lab is interested in how neurons acquire their type-specific morphology and how this morphology influences nervous system function. To approach this problem, we use molecular genetic and anatomical approaches to identify the mechanisms by which specific neuronal circuits are sculpted during development.

A major focus has been somatosensory neurons that innervate the body wall of the fruit fly Drosophila. Using this system, we can dissect the mechanisms of neuronal morphogenesis at the level of single neurons. We have recently worked to elucidate the mechanisms by which branches from the same cell spread from each other to cover their appropriate territory. This process of “self-avoidance” is controlled by the homophilic Ig superfamily member Dscam1 and enforced by integrin receptors for the extracellular matrix.

Current interests in the lab include 1) characterization of somatosensory circuitry, 2) mechanisms of dendro-dendritic repulsion, and 3) morphological and functional changes that occur in neurons and circuits during aging.

Selected Publications

Kim M.E., Shrestha B.R., Blazeski R., Mason C.A., Grueber W.B. 2012. Integrins establish dendrite-substrate relationships that promote dendritic self-avoidance and patterning in Drosophila sensory neurons. Neuron 73:79-91.

Matthews B.J., Grueber W.B. 2011. Dscam1-mediated self-avoidance counters netrin-dependent targeting of dendrites in Drosophila. Curr Biol 21:1480-1487.

Grueber W.B., Sagasti A. 2010. Self-avoidance and Tiling: Mechanisms of Dendrite and Axon Spacing. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol doi:10.1101/cshperspect.a001750.

Hattori D., Chen Y., Matthews B.J., Salwinski L., Sabatti C., Grueber W.B., Zipursky S.L. 2009. Robust discrimination between self and non-self neurites requires thousands of Dscam1 isoforms. Nature 461:644-648.

Corty M.M.*, Matthews B.J.*, and Grueber W.B. 2009. Molecules and mechanisms of dendrite development in Drosophila. Development 136:1049-1061.

Matthews B.J., Kim M.E.*, Flanagan J.J.*, Hattori D., Clemens J.C., Zipursky S.L., and Grueber W.B. 2007. Dendrite self-avoidance is controlled by Dscam. Cell 129:593-604.