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Laura Anne Lowery

assistant professor of biology

Dr. Laura Anne Lowery

Ph.D., Massachusetts Institute of Technology


The Lowery Lab Website

Fields of Interest

Cytoskeletal dynamics during cell migration, axon outgrowth, development of the nervous system

Academic Profile

One of the most remarkable feats in early neural development occurs when each neuron sends out an axon tipped with a growth cone, which navigates through the embryonic terrain and interprets guidance cues to find and connect with its final target. Abnormalities in axon guidance are associated with a multitude of neurodevelopmental disorders, including autism and schizophrenia. Many decades of axon guidance research have defined key extracellular cues and signaling pathways for this process, yet we still do not understand how these cues translate into the coordinated cytoskeletal dynamics that drive the morphological responses (advance, retraction, and turning) of the growth cone.

A long-term goal of our lab is to understand how cytoskeletal coordination occurs in the embryonic growth cone. Specifically, we focus on the regulation of the plus-ends of microtubules (MTs), which play a key role in growth cone steering. An important feature of MT plus-ends is the presence of a conserved set of proteins called 'plus-end tracking proteins' (+TIPs) that localize to the plus-ends and regulate their behavior. Evidence suggests that +TIPs act in response to upstream guidance cues by coordinating the downstream MT response.

Our research utilizes high-resolution live imaging and computational analysis of cytoskeletal behavior in cultured Xenopus laevis embryonic neurons to answer the question of how +TIPs interact and function within the growth cone to drive directed cell motility.

Representative Publications

Lowery LA. Axon guidance: FLRTing promotes attraction, Current Biology 2014 24 (5), R198-R200.

Lowery LA, Stout A, Faris AE, Ding L, Baird MA, Davidson MW, Danuser G, Van Vactor D. Growth cone-specific functions of XMAP215 in restricting microtubule dynamics and promoting axonal outgrowth, Neural Dev 2013 Dec 1;8(1):22.

Long JB, Bagonis M, Lowery LA, Lee H, Danuser G, Van Vactor D. Multiparametric analysis of CLASP-interacting protein functions during interphase microtubule dynamics,; Mol Cell Biol 2013 Apr;33(8):1528-45.

Lowery LA, Faris AE, Stout A, Van Vactor D. Neural explant culturing from Xenopus laevis. Journal of Visualized Experiments 2012 (68), e4232, DOI: 10.3791/4232.

Chang J, Lowery LA, Sive H. Multiple roles for the Na,K-ATPase subunits, Atp1a1 and Fxyd1, during brain ventricle development, Developmental Biology 2012 Aug 15;368 (2):312-22.

Lowery LA, Lee H, Lu C, Murphy R, Obar RA, Zhai B, Schedl M, Van Vactor D, Zhan Y. Parallel genetic and proteomic screens identify Msps as a CLASP-Abl pathway interactor in Drosophila, Genetics2010 Aug;185(4):1311-25.

Lowery LA, Van Vactor D. The trip of the tip: understanding the growth cone machinery, Nature Reviews Molecular Cell Biology 2009 May;10(5):332-43.

Lowery LA, Sive H. Totally tubular: the mystery behind function and origin of the brain ventricular system, Bioessays 2009 Apr;31(4):446-58.

Lowery LA, De Rienzo G, Gutzman J, and Sive H. Characterization and classification of zebrafish brain morphology mutants, Anatomical Record; 2009 Jan;292(1):94-106.

Gutzman JH, Graeden E, Lowery LA, Holley H, Sive H. Formation of the midbrain hindbrain boundary constriction requires laminin-dependent basal constriction, Mechanisms of Development 2008 Nov-Dec;125(11-12):975-83.

Lowery LA, Rubin J, and Sive H. wis/sfpq is required for cell survival and neuronal development in the zebrafish, Developmental Dynamics 2007 May;236(5):1347-57.

Lowery LA and Sive H. Strategies of vertebrate neurulation and a re-evaluation of teleost neural tube formation, Mechanisms of Development 2004 Oct; 121(10):1189-97.

Lowery LA and Sive H. Formation of zebrafish brain ventricles occurs independently of circulation and requires the nagie oko and snakehead/atp1a1a.1 gene products, Development 2005 May;132(9):2057-67.

Hardaker LA, Singer E, Kerr R, Zhou G, Schafer WR. Serotonin modulates locomotory behavior and coordinates egg-laying and movement in Caenorhabditis elegans, Journal of Neurobiology 2001 Dec;49 (4):303-13.

Waggoner LE, Hardaker LA, Golik S, and Schafer WR. Effect of a neuropeptide gene on behavioral states in Caenorhabditis elegans egg-laying. Genetics 2000, 154:1181-1192.


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