Seminar Speaker – Denise Garcia, Ph.D.

Event Date & Time

April 15, 2019



Event Details:

Denise Garcia, Ph.D
Assistant Professor
Dept. of Biology
Drexel University

“Astrocyte modulation of cell type specific synaptic connectivity mediated by Sonic hedgehog signaling”

Videoconference to AT&T 1.120

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About the Speaker(s)

Astrocytes encompass a broad class of cells whose diverse roles in CNS function are only beginning to be understood. We identified a subpopulation of astrocytes in the adult mammalian forebrain that expresses the transcription factor, Gli1, indicating active Sonic hedgehog (Shh) signaling. Interestingly, Shh is expressed in neurons, identifying Shh signaling as a mediator of neuron-astrocyte communication. Our work is focused on understanding the role of Shh signaling in astrocyte function. Recent studies have revealed that Shh activity in astrocytes is required for establishing and maintaining synaptic organization of cortical neurons. Targeted loss of Shh signaling selectively in astrocytes produces aberrant synapse number that emerges during development and persists into adulthood. Moreover, neurons in these mutant mice exhibit perturbations in neuronal activity. These data identify a critical role for neuron-astrocyte communication mediated by Shh signaling in sculpting local cortical circuits.