Areas of Interest
What are the mechanisms involved in learning and memory? What genes/proteins are the major contributors in determining cognitive ability? The Murphy lab uses the most common form of genetic intellectual disability, Down Syndrome (DS), to probe these foundational questions. DS results from triplication of the 21st chromosome (HSA21), and therefore the potential overexpression of the 250-300 protein-coding genes located on HSA21. If overexpression of one or more of these genes is found to be the cause of cognitive impairment in DS, then through that discovery we expect to learn more about how cognitive ability is determined in the mammalian brain. The DSCAM gene is located on HSA21 and acts as a transmembrane receptor protein on neuronal projections throughout the developing fetal brain. In collaboration with the Bing Ye lab, we are exploring DSCAM’s role in the mammalian brain, and specifically in DS, through behavioral evaluation of transgenic mice as well as electrophysiology and imaging techniques in brain slices and neuronal cell culture.