Sharlene Brown, Ph.D.


Biological Sciences

Area of Doctoral Study: Biology
Undergraduate Institute: Ursinus College

Research Advisor: Dr. Rachel Brewster

Description of Research

The vertebrate brain and spinal cord tissues are continuous because of their origins from a hollow structure called the neural tube. Early in development, the neural tube is formed from a flat sheet of cells, the neural plate, that must transition from wide and short to narrow and long. The cell movements that narrow and elongate the neural plate, convergence and extension, respectively, rely heavily on coordinated, polarized membrane protrusiveness.

The goal of my project is to uncover how the genes involved in neural convergence and extension (NCE) coordinate this crucial step in neural tube formation. I use loss- and gain-of-function tools to isolate the role of each molecular component of interest. I also capture the live cell behaviors using time lapse confocal microscopy in a transparent vertebrate, the developing zebrafish embryo.