Development of human neocortex

How does extracellular matrix regulate human neocortex development?

Extracellular matrix is highly expressed throughout the development of the human neocortex, but its function remains largely unknown. Our research will focus on characterising the dynamics of the extracellular matrix in the developing human neocortex, and understanding the functions of the components and networks identified. We use multidisciplinary techniques, such as novel hydrogel systems, cutting edge imaging and atomic force microscopy, to investigate how extracellular matrix signaling and stiffness regulates the development of the human neocortex.

What is the function of extracellular matrix in neurodevelopmental disorders?

Mutations is several extracellular matrix genes have been linked to neurodevelopmental disorders with cognitive impairments. We are particularly interested in those mutations that have been linked to disorders with abnormal cortical folding. These include the folding disorder lissencephaly, in which there are too few folds on the surface of the neocortex. Our research focuses on understanding how perturbations in these specific extracellular matrix components can lead to these neurodevelopmental abnormalities, using the multidisciplinary tools outlined above. We are also interested in how the extracellular matrix is affected in other neurodevelopmental disorders and how it may contribute to the changes in neocortex size, shape and organisation observed in them.