Kyle E. Miller, PhD
- Faculty, Training Faculty, Cellular & Molecular
Associate Professor, Integrative Biology
Ph.D., 1996, Emory University
The morphology of neurons arises through the application of forces on the cytoskeletal framework and the selective transport of cellular components. We are particularly interested in how mitochondria, the organelle that is major source energy, are transported in neurons for two reasons:
- By observing fast mitochondrial transport, we can understand how new materials are supplied and damaged materials are removed from neurons.
- By watching the movements of mitochondria tightly bound to the cytoskeletal framework, we can observe how forces shape neuronal morphology.
To observe and perturb nerve cells directly, we remove them from the nervous system of chick embryos and induce them to grow in a culture dish where we can study their responses to forces. To understand the genes that underlie mitochondrial transport and neuronal morphology, we directly observe mitochondrial movements in living fly embryos and larva using confocal microscopy. Because disruption of mitochondrial transport has been implicated in several neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and Huntington’s diseases), our work not only addresses one of the fundamental problems in neurobiology, but could also lead to insights into neurodegeneration.