The Manton Center for Orphan Disease Research
Duyu Nie, MD, PhD
Dr. Duyu Nie received his medical degree from Xiang-ya School of Medicine (formerly Hunan Medical University) in China. He did his PhD training in neuroscience at National University of Singapore (NUS) Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine. His graduate research projects focused on understanding the role and molecular mechanism of axon-glia interactions during myelin development as well as for rewiring neural network after lesions to the central nervous system. He joined Dr. Mustafa Sahin’s laboratory at F. M. Kirby Neurobiology Center and Department of Neurology in 2007.
Dr. Nie continued his interests in studying the axon development and neuronal connectivity. The disease models that are extensively investigated in Dr. Mustafa Sahin’s laboratory include Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC) and Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). Particularly, they focus on dissecting the identity and regulation of mRNA transport and translation that governs all aspects of the axonal development, neuronal connectivity and synaptic plasticity, with a combination of biochemistry, genetic approach and imaging techniques. In particular, Dr. Nie has discovered that the local mRNA translation within the axonal growth cone is fine-tuned in response to a specific extracellular cue, namely ephrins. Dysregulated protein translation has emerged as a common defect in several genetic disorders characterized by intellectual disability and autism. Dr. Nie proposes to look into the mRNA profiling in neuronal models of TSC deficiency with an un-biased approach and further investigate axonal specification, growth cone dynamics and pre-synaptic differentiation regulated by specific mRNAs. This study has the potential to offer novel targets of treatment for patients with TSC and other related neurodevelopmental disorders.