Our research focuses on the role of guanine metabolism in neuronal development and in recovery after injury. My lab identified the postsynaptic density protein-95 (PSD-95) interactor cypin (cytosolic PSD-95 interactor; aka guanine deaminase or GDA), a purine metabolic enzyme, as a core regulator of neuronal development that directly interacts with the cytoskeleton and alter its dynamics. My laboratory studies the role of cypin/GDA in the promotion of recovery after traumatic brain injury and glutamate-induced toxicity. We determined that overexpression of cypin is neuroprotective as is treatment with uric acid but that the two treatments act via distinct mechanisms. Our most recent work work uses our novel tools – small molecules that modulate the guanine deaminase activity of cypin - to elucidate whether cypin is a target for treatment of patients who have experienced a moderate traumatic brain injury. An additional focus of my laboratory is to guide motoneurons to connect to myotubes using a biocompatible, biodegradable matrix with the goal of promoting regeneration of the neuromuscular (NMJ) circuit after a glutamate-induced toxicity model for SCI.
Since we are also interested in neurocognitive disorders and their underlying pathophysiology, we study how dysregulation of dendrite patterning, neuron placement, and electrophysiology occur, with emphasis on proteins that are misregulated in patients with schizophrenia.