Mary Halloran, PhD

Credentials: Integrative Biology, Neuroscience

Position title: Professor


Phone: 608-263-7875

Organ System/Disease Focus
Neural development, axon growth, axonal transport, neurodegenerative disease
Aligned Research Focus
Basic science in neural development and cellular cargo transport
Research Description

Our research is aimed at understanding the molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate axon growth, branching and pathfinding during development of neuronal morphology and circuit connections. We are particularly interested in the processes of axonal transport of organelles and vesicular cargo, and regulation of the neuronal cytoskeleton. Because of their complex and highly polarized morphology, neurons are especially dependent on high fidelity axonal transport/cargo trafficking. Many neurodegenerative diseases have defects in the machinery of cargo transport. We use zebrafish as a model system, which allows us to image axon growth, transport and localization of cellular cargos and microtubule dynamics in neurons developing in live, intact embryos. In addition, we can assay animal behavior in larvae and adults to assess circuit function. To model human neurodegenerative disease, we generate zebrafish mutants for genes known to be disease causing. Using our imaging approaches, we can define their precise cellular functions and effects of gene loss on the dynamic processes of axon growth, cargo transport and microtubule organization.

Selected References:
  1. Alassaf, M. and Halloran, M.C. (2021) Pregnancy-associated plasma protein-aa regulates endoplasmic reticulum-mitochondria associations. eLife 10:e59687. DOI: 10.7554/eLife.59687
  2. Lee TJ, Lee JW, Haynes EM, Eliceiri KW and Halloran MC (2017). The kinesin adaptor Calsyntenin-1 organizes microtubule polarity and regulates dynamics during sensory axon arbor development. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 11:107. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2017.00107
  3. Ponomareva, O.Y., Eliceiri, K.W. and Halloran, M.C. (2016) Charcot-Marie-Tooth 2b associated Rab7 mutations cause axon growth and guidance defects during vertebrate sensory neuron development. Neural Development Jan 20, 11:2. PMCID: PMC4721196
  4. Ponomareva, O.Y., Holmen, I.C., Sperry, A.J., Eliceiri, K.W., and Halloran, M.C. (2014) Calsyntenin-1 regulates axon branching and endosomal trafficking during sensory neuron development in vivo. J Neurosci 34:9235-9248. PMCID: PMC4087204