Interdisciplinary Life Science - PULSe Great research is a matter of choice

Peter J. Hollenbeck

Peter J. Hollenbeck Profile Picture

Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Ph.D., California, Berkeley, 1984

Contact Info:

Training Group(s):
Integrative Neuroscience

Current Research Interests:

Nerve cells are the longest cells in the body: their relative dimensions can approximate those of a garden hose 1 inch in diameter and thousands of feet long. This allows individual nerve cells to convey messages rapidly in the nervous system, but also requires that they transport the energy sources and raw materials that they need over enormous distances.

In my laboratory we are working to determine how nerve cells accomplish and coordinate this long-range movement, and how the process goes awry in neurodegenerative diseases. To observe and perturb nerve cells directly, we remove them from the nervous system of chick embryos and induce them to grow in a culture dish, where we can study their responses to specific molecular events using the computer-enhanced light microscope. Our efforts are focused in three areas:

First, we are using vertebrate neurons to examine the relationship among mitochondrial biogenesis, metabolic activity, and traffic in the axon. Second, we are using Drosophila neurons in culture to determine which subset of molecular motors powers the complex movements of mitochondria in the axon. And third, we are using a Drosophila model of the human mitochondrial neurodegenerative disease Friedreich Ataxia to unravel the cellular pathogenesis of the disease.

Selected Publications:

Hollenbeck, P. J. ans W. M. Saxton. 2005. The axonal transport of mitochondria. Journal of Cell Science 118:5411-19.

Chada, S. R. and P. J. Hollenbeck. 2004. Nerve growth factor signaling regulates motility and docking of axonal mitochondria. Current Biology 14:1272-1276.

Lee, S.-K. and P.J. Hollenbeck. 2003. Organization and translation of mRNA in sympathetic axons. Journal of Cell Science 116:4467-4478.

Ruthel, G. & P. J. Hollenbeck. 2003. Response of mitochondrial traffic to axon determination and differential branch growth. Journal of Neuroscience 23:8618-8624.

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