Formation and Regulation of Neuronal Connectivity Research Unit (David Van Vactor)

Unit outline

David Van Vactor

Formation and Regulation of Neuronal Connectivity Research Unit

David Van Vactor, Visiting Professor

davie at




The mechanisms that control the formation and maintenance of accurate and functional synaptic connections are vital to the operation of the nervous system.  While much remains to be learned about the molecular machinery underlying the specific directional growth of axons to reach target cells and the formation of synapses in the developing and regenerating nervous system, many of the genes needed for these events have been identified. This foundation of knowledge provides an opportunity to better understand the mechanisms that regulate the deployment of this molecular arsenal during normal development, or in disease states that compromise the function or survival of neural circuits.  Multiple levels of regulatory mechanisms exist, from transcriptional to post-transcriptional and translational control of neural gene expression.  Our interest is to better define such regulatory strategies, using Drosophila melanogaster as a model system to allow genetic dissection of neural development and neurodegeneration in vivo.