Liu Lab
Children's National Medical Center
Our lab works on the mechanisms that regulate neuronal development in the cortex.
Field(s) of Research: Neurosciences, Developmental Biology
Disease Focus: Mental Illness, Autism
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Lab Members
Judy Liu
Assistant Professor
Xiaoqin Fu
Post-doctoral Fellow
Lissencephaly is a neuronal migration disorder that causes mental retardation and epilepsy in affected children. In this disorder, the morphology of the brain is characterized by a decrease or absence of gyri and sulci in the cerebral cortex. The majority of causative genes are known to regulate the cytoskeleton through microtubule function, including doublecortin (DCX), a microtububle binding protein, Lissencephaly 1 (LISS1), an adaptor protein for a transport motor, and tubulin alpha1a, (TUBA1A) a subunit of the tubulin dimer that polymerizes to form the actual microtubule. Data from many labs shows that microtubules are tracks on which intracellular transport takes place. We have identified a novel role for DCX, a microtubule binding protein, in regulation of vesicle transport.

Our goal is to further define the function of the lissencephaly genes by understanding their affect on microtubule-based transport within developing neurons. The long term goals for this work are three fold 1) is to look for other proteins which may be causative for those patients who lack a diagnosis 2) identify points in the microtubule pathway which can be manipulated to overcome either a genetic or environmental insult which would ordinarily lead to migration defects and 3) to determine whether the microtubule pathway dysfunction is important in more commonly occurring, non-genetic causes of neuronal migration disorders.
Keywords neuronal migration, microtubules

Fu X, Brown KJ, Yap CC, Winckler B, Jaiswal JK, Liu JS
J Neurosci. 2013 Jan 9. 33(2):709-21.
Liu JS, Schubert CR, Fu X, Fourniol FJ, Jaiswal JK, Houdusse A, Stultz CM, Moores CA, Walsh CA
Mol Cell. 2012 Aug 1. ():.
Yap CC, Vakulenko M, Kruczek K, Motamedi B, Digilio L, Liu JS , Winckler B
J Neurosci. 2012 May 30. 32(22):7439-53.
Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2011 Jan 11. ():.
Friocourt G, Liu JS , Antypa M, Rakic S, Walsh CA, Parnavelas JG
J Neurosci. 2007 Apr 4. 27(14):3875-83.
Deuel TA, Liu JS , Corbo JC, Yoo SY, Rorke-Adams LB, Walsh CA
Neuron. 2006 Jan 5. 49(1):41-53.