Research Faculty

650 West 168th Street
P&S 14-401
New York, NY 10032

Phone: 212-342-3928

Hynek Wichterle
Kevin Kanning, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Pathology and Cell Biology at the Columbia University Medical Center
Research Summary

I am interested in determining the variables that direct the diversification of spinal motor neurons (MNs) into functional subtypes, how this variation is translated into connections within specific circuits, and how this diversification renders some MN subtypes more vulnerable to stress and disease.

The primary approach we are using to address these questions is based upon the power to recapitulate and manipulate motor neuron development using methods of directed differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESC). In collaboration with Dr. Hynek Wichterle, I am establishing a vast toolbox of genetically engineered stem cells that allow us to visualize, purify, and manipulate motor neurons. Currently a major aim is to adapt and optimize our stem cell systems to facilitate lentiviral CRISPR genetic screens in ESC derived motor neurons. In a first test of this system, we are using the robust differentiation of ES-MN in a screen for modifiers of early MN differentiation. Building upon this system, we will use unbiased CRISPR screens to identify genes and DNA regulatory regions required for other aspects of MN development or disease for which we have established in vitro phenotypes. Collectively these studies hope to provide the rationale for translational approaches to treatment of motor system pathologies.

Selected Publications

Machado CB, Kanning KC, Kreis P, Stevenson D, Crossley M, Nowak M, Iacovino M, Kyba M, Chambers D, Blanc E, Lieberam I. Reconstruction of phrenic neuron identity in embryonic stem cell-derived motor neurons. Development. 2014 Feb;141(4):784-94.

Kaplan A, Spiller KJ, Towne C, Kanning KC, Choe GT, Geber A, Akay T, Aebischer P, Henderson CE. Neuronal matrix metalloproteinase-9 is a determinant of selective neurodegeneration. Neuron. 2014 Jan 22;81(2):333-48

Kanning KC, Kaplan A, Henderson CE. Motor neuron diversity in development and disease. Annu Rev Neurosci. 2010;33:409-40.

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