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Laboratory of Glial and Neuronal Autophagy

Laboratory of Glial and Neuronal Autophagy


The main goal of our laboratory is to understand how signaling pathways clustered in the primary cilium modulate autophagy in physiological but also pathological conditions, such as neurodegenerative diseases.

Neurons and glia possess a primary cilium, a protruding organelle that acts as a major sensory antenna, transducing extracellular signals into the cell and modulating intracellular events such as autophagy and cell cycle. However, despite the fact that the identification of cilia-dependent signaling pathways continues to grow, the cellular mechanisms that govern them are poorly understood in the adult brain.

By using inducible transgenic animal models with defective cilia, we study the in vivo contribution of this organelle to the accumulation of amyloid-beta during aging, one of the hallmarks of Alzheimer´s disease. More in detail, we are especially interested in dissecting the molecular pathways that connect cilia with a malfunction of autophagy in the brain. To this end, we use super- and high-resolution imaging techniques as well as biochemical and behavioral approaches. Additionally, we are interested in investigating the role of the primary cilium in the communication between astrocytes and neurons. We focus on how this interaction is modulated under neurodegenerative conditions as well as during physiological aging.

Ultimately, the understanding of brain ciliary signaling pathways could contribute to develop new tools to burst autophagy function in neurodegenerative diseases.


Neuron cultures; astrocytic cultures; neuron-astroglia co-cultures; autophagy assays; protein and biochemical studies; confocal and wide-field microscopy; STED super-resolution microscopy; behavioral studies; stereotaxic brain surgery; inducible transgenic mouse models.



Group Leader

Research Assistants

  • Laura de las Heras