The Laboratory of Dr. Shermali Gunawardena

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Laboratory of Axonal Transport and Neurodegenerative Disease

Within axons vital neuronal cargoes must be transported over great distances along microtubule tracks. The fundamental question our lab is interested in is whether axonal transport problems are an early precursor in neurodegenerative disease initiation, and if so do problems in transport initiate a “domino effect” that ultimately contributes to neuronal death and degeneration. To test this we rely primarily on the analysis of transport in Drosophila larval axons combined with classical genetic techniques, biochemical tools and an in vivo motility assay.

Drosophila Kinesin heavy chain mutant shows the tail flip phenotype.
Movies by Mary-Ann Martin and Bill Saxton



Our research also focuses on elucidating if the MT- transport pathway can be used to direct specific therapeutic aids to problem sites cabasedused by transport defects. In this regard, we are utilizing nanoparticles as drug delivery systems to target axonal pathology.


GFP expression is seen within the entire larval nervous system in a 3rd instar larvae.