Welcome to the Barbee Lab:

Our laboratory is interested in understanding the basic molecular functions of cytoplasmic ribonucleoprotein (RNP) particles in polarized cells. We currently are using the Drosophila melanogaster neuromuscular junction (NMJ) as a model system and are focusing on identifying biological functions for components of a class of synapse-localized RNPs called RNA processing bodies (or "P bodies”). P bodies were initially identified as sites of 5' to 3' exonucleolytic messenger RNA (mRNA) decay but have since been found to be involved in both general and microRNA (miRNA)-mediated translational repression pathways. Distinct types of P bodies have recently been identified in fly and mammalian neurons that exhibit microtubule-based motorized movement towards distal synapses in response to chemical stimulation. These observations have lead to the development of two testable hypotheses: 1) neuronal P bodies are involved in the transport and/or translational repression of mRNAs that localize to distal dendrites and/or axon terminals; and 2) neuronal P bodies are required to transport components of the 5' to 3' mRNA degradation pathway to dendrites and/or axon terminals where they are involved in coupling mRNA translation to decay. Importantly, these hypotheses are not mutualy exclusive. Different flavors of neuronal P bodies may be involved in the control of each process.

© Scott A. Barbee 2012