Graphic illustration of researcher in science lab with test tube and microscope.

Research & Publications

Takako Makita, PhD, and her research team seek to understand the molecular mechanisms the development of the peripheral nervous system, necessary for postnatal development and function throughout life.  How the nervous system becomes correctly wired remains one of the major unexplained mysteries of biology. Dr. Makita's lab uses mouse genetics and physiological assessment to dissect the biological roles of several signaling pathways in peripheral neural development, coupled with molecular and biochemical approaches to understand the underlying mechanisms in each process.

Shown below are representative data from her findings using transgenic mice in the study of the enteric nervous system.

immunofluorescence image

The juvenile mouse colon immunolabeled for neuronal makers visualizes diverse population of enteric neurons that control peristaltic muscle contraction and relaxation.

explant section taken from the gut of a 10.5 day mouse embryo

The mouse embryonic gut slice culture shows that neurotrophic factor (GDNF) promotes enteric progenitor cell outgrowth (magenta) and neuronal (yellow) and glial (cyan) differentiation in vitro.