Fuss Lab


Research in the Fuss Lab is geared towards a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms that regulate the formation of the myelin sheath in the central nervous system (CNS). Myelination enables fast and efficient propagation of signals within the limited space of the mammalian CNS and is thus crucial for proper functioning of the CNS. The importance of the myelin sheath is highlighted by the devastating consequences of pathological damage to it in de- and dysmyelinating diseases. The most common demyelinating disease in humans is multiple sclerosis (MS), which also represents one of the most common disabling neurological diseases of young adults. Pathologically, the CNS of MS patients is characterized by the presence of inflammatory, demyelinating lesions. These lesions cause neurological symptoms that often lead to permanent disability. Current therapies focus on regulating the immune response. These therapies are improving the quality of life. However, they do not represent a cure. Thus, additional therapeutic approaches need to be developed.

In light of the severe loss of myelin and the myelin generating cells, namely oligodendrocytes, promoting remyelination represents itself as an obvious choice for therapeutic intervention. However, changes in the extracellular environment have been found to be associated with demyelinated lesions and to negatively affect the behavior and functioning of oligodendrocytes. Thus, a better understanding of the role of the extracellular environment on oligodendrocyte maturation and myelination is of particular interest. To address this issue, studies currently ongoing in the Fuss Lab are aimed to investigate the role of different extracellular environments on oligodendrocyte maturation and myelination. A particular focus is the role of the extracellular protein autotaxin (ATX), also known as PD-Iα/ATX, ENPP2 and lysoPLD. In addition, the Lab is analyzing the role of cell surface and intracellular signaling molecules known to be involved in regulating the interactions of cells with their extracellular environment and proposed to function downstream of ATX. As experimental tools, the Lab uses ex-vivo tissue culture paradigms as well as in vivo models, namely transgenic and knock-out mice as well as the developing zebrafish. In addition, the Lab takes advantage of the advanced imaging techniques enabled through the state-of-the-art microscopy facility.


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Comments should be sent to Babette Fuss