Abstract: The complex neuronal morphology plays a critical role in physiological and pathological brain function by integrating complex patterns of synaptic inputs and outputs as wells as subserving network connectivity. To examine how neurons achieve and maintain this intricate and complex architecture, we use a wide array of molecular biology techniques, in vitro and in vivo assays, animal models, behavioural analysis and bioinformatics tools as well as calcium imaging. We find that many members of the TNF superfamily regulate neuronal morphology and synaptic function in developing nervous system. Interestingly, we discovered that the developmental TNF superfamily signalling mechanisms are recapitulated in aging neurons and neurodegenerative processes. Moreover, some of the members are involved in dendrite degeneration in healthy aging neurons leading to impaired physiological and behaviour phenotypes that are hallmarks of aging. These findings highlight the important role that the TNF superfamily members plays in formation and maintenance of complex neuronal morphology that is prerequisite for proper brain function.
Catarina de Sousa Osório