Department of Cell Systems & Anatomy

CSA Faculty

 

Lizhen Chen, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

 

University of Georgia, 2008

 

Barshop, STCBM 2.200.02
(210) 562-5062
ChenL7@uthscsa.edu

 

The goal of our research is to discover molecular pathways involved in neuronal aging and disease, and to translate such findings into potential therapeutic targets. Specifically, our research focuses on molecular mechanisms of neuronal aging and age-dependent axon regeneration. Axons in the central nervous system of adult mammals fail to regenerate after injury. In contrary, embryonic and early postnatal animals show a remarkable ability to regenerate axons. Despite decades of studies, the age-dependent changes and the factors influencing this transition remain largely unknown. We use C. elegans and mouse models in our research. The short life span and powerful genetics of C. elegans offers unique advantage for understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying neuronal aging. The findings from C. elegans will then be applied to mammals.

 

Based on our previous genetic screen and mechanistic dissection, we are currently working on the following projects:

  • 1. Regulation of MT dynamics in neuronal responses to age and injury
    Age-dependent deterioration in neuronal morphology and disorganized MT arrays has been reported, but the MT dynamics in aged neurons has received little attention. MT plus ends are constantly undergoing growth and shrinkage, while the minus ends are relatively less dynamics. We have previously used a MT plus end marker EBP-2::GFP to study MT growth in injured axons. We aim to understand age-associated changes in MT organization and dynamics, and their effect on neuronal aging and regeneration.
  • 2. Roles of CELF RBP and neurotransmission genes in age-dependent axon regeneration
    From our genetic screen, we have uncovered unexpected roles of neurotransmission genes and their upstream regulators in adult axon regeneration. We hope to reveal how these factors regulate neuronal intrinsic ability to adapt to injury and damage in normal and aging animals.
Recent Publications:
Chen L, Liu Z, Zhou B, Wei C, Zhou Y, Rosenfeld MG, Fu XD, Chisholm AD, Jin Y. (2016) CELF RNA binding proteins promote axon regeneration in C. elegans and mammals through alternative splicing of Syntaxins. Elife. Jun 2;5. pii: e16072. doi: 10.7554/eLife.16072.

 

Chen L, Chuang M, Koorman T, Boxem M, Jin Y, Chisholm AD. Axon injury triggers EFA-6 mediated destabilization of axonal microtubules via TACC and doublecortin like kinase. Elife. 2015 Sep 4;4.

 

Grill B, Chen L, Tulgren ED, Baker ST, Bienvenut W, Anderson M, Quadroni M, Jin Y, Garner CC. RAE-1, a novel PHR binding protein, is required for axon termination and synapse formation in Caenorhabditis elegans. J Neurosci. 2012 Feb 22;32(8):2628-36.

 

Chen L, Wang Z, Ghosh-Roy A, Hubert T, Yan D, O'Rourke S, Bowerman B, Wu Z, Jin Y, Chisholm AD. Axon regeneration pathways identified by systematic genetic screening in C. elegans. Neuron. 2011 Sep 22;71(6):1043-57.

 

Chen L, Chisholm AD. Axon regeneration mechanisms: insights from C. elegans. Trends Cell Biol. 2011 Oct;21(10):577-84.

 

Chen L, Zhao P, Wells L, Amemiya CT, Condie BG, Manley NR. Mouse and zebrafish Hoxa3 orthologues have nonequivalent in vivo protein function. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2010 Jun 8;107(23):10555-60.

 

Representative Publications:
Chen L, Chuang M, Koorman T, Boxem M, Jin Y, Chisholm AD. Axon injury triggers EFA-6 mediated destabilization of axonal microtubules via TACC and doublecortin like kinase. Elife. 2015 Sep 4;4.

 

Chen L, Wang Z, Ghosh-Roy A, Hubert T, Yan D, O'Rourke S, Bowerman B, Wu Z, Jin Y, Chisholm AD. Axon regeneration pathways identified by systematic genetic screening in C. elegans. Neuron. 2011 Sep 22;71(6):1043-57.

 

Chen L, Xiao S, Manley NR. Foxn1 is required to maintain the postnatal thymic microenvironment in a dosage-sensitive manner. Blood. 2009 Jan 15;113(3):567-74.