Dr. Hawkes' research activities focus on spatially repeated patterns in developing organisms - from segmentation in the leech, through the patterned expression of homeodomain proteins in Drosophila, to somitic segregation in vertebrates - are a central problem in development.
In the nervous system, the mammalian cerebellum is an ideal tissue in which to explore these questions. A variety of molecules - ZEBRINS - are expressed in the adult mouse cerebellum in an elegant array of stripes, interposed by similar stripes of unlabelled cells. This pattern of stripes is, in turn, correlated closely with the pattern of axons bringing information into the cerebellum.
This raises four broad sets of issues:
- how are the zebrin bands generated during development?
- how do the different ingrowing axons recognize their appropriate targets?
- what is the modular structure of the cerebellum?
- how do cerebellar modules function in motor control?
We use cell and molecular biology techniques to approach these issues, including:
- raising monoclonal antibodies to zebrins
- cloning zebrin genes and constructing zebrin transgenic mice
- anatomical methods such as anterograde tracer transport, immunocytochemistry, and in situ hybridization
- surgical and pharmacological interventions in normal development, including
- intrauterine and ex utero approaches
- culture of cerebellar slices and dissociated neurons