Hereditary diseases characterized by an insufficient growth of a child’s brain (congenital microcephalies), cause mental and often physical disabilities. One of the causes of congenital microcephalies is that the division of nerve cell precursors is not proceeding normally. As a result, too few nerve cells form and the brain remains small. The cytoskeleton is known to play an important role in cell division. Previous studies have identified a new protein that is mutated in a small number of children with severe microcephaly. This enzyme is important for cell division and controls the conversion of certain lipids in the cell membrane. This project will study the function of this enzyme in brain development and how the cytoskeleton and membrane lipids of the cell communicate with each other to coordinate neuronal cell division.
In this project a new aspect of neuronal cell division will be mapped, which may enable other microcephaly-related genes to be identified.