PhD student in Neuroscience
Award-winning publication: Overexpression of Down syndrome cell adhesion molecule impairs precise synaptic targeting
Published in: Nature Neuroscience, 16, 677-682, 2013.
"It is generally thought that miswiring of neuronal circuits leads to cognitive impairment in intellectual disabilities. My study provides evidence that elevated levels of Down Syndrome Cell Adhesion Molecule (Dscam) could be a common molecular mechanism leading to neuronal miswiring in two of the most common forms of intellectual disability: Down syndrome and Fragile X syndrome. Both disorders are characterized by elevated protein levels and my research identifies Dscam protein as a molecule responsible for impaired synaptic targeting and behavior in drosophila. Maintaining the correct levels of Dscam appears crucial for proper brain development and circuit formation, and dysregulation of Dscam levels may contribute to other neural developmental disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorders and Rett syndrome."
Vedrana Cvetkovska' study has shown that dysregulation of a single molecule may lie at the heart of the improper neuronal connections in two different intellectual disabilities. Dscam is now identified as an important molecule involved in neural wiring and contributing to neural developmental disorders. In the future, Dscam may be used as a therapeutic target to help manage some of the disability associated with different and complex disorders.