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Undergraduate Advising and Research
Parker House, HB 6201
Hanover, NH
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George M. Langford

2012 Symposium abstract: "Vesicle Transport in Nerve Cells"

Ernest Everett Just had a profound influence on the fields of embryology and developmental biology and his path breaking work made it possible for individuals like me to be successful research scientists. His life story provides excellent examples of ways to navigate through the difficult issues of racial discrimination and racial bias. I used several of his strategies to help sustain my career endeavors. My research program uses cell and molecular biology approaches to understand the function of the actin cytoskeleton, an essential component of all eukaryotic cells, in health and disease. The actin cytoskeleton functions as tracks for the movement of organelles/vesicles in the axons of nerve cells and is therefore integral to the mechanism of learning and memory. My research group was the first to discover that vesicles in the giant axon of the squid move on both microtubules and actin filaments. These initial studies documented the ability of individual vesicles to move from microtubules to actin filaments and led to the development of the dual filament model of vesicle transport. The model proposes that long-range movement of vesicles occurs on microtubules and short-range movement on actin filaments. Short-range movement of ER vesicles at the synapse of neurons is required to locate these calcium-releasing organelles at sites of electrical excitation and serves to couple excitation and signal transduction. The calcium stimulated signaling cascades are postulated to initiate the cellular mechanisms that lead to learning and memory.

Last Updated: 8/23/12