Matthew Yasuo Pecot
Matthew Yasuo Pecot, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Neurobiology
(in memorium)

Our nervous systems comprise vast numbers of different neuronal cell types, yet in order for us to detect, interpret, and respond to changes in our environment, neurons must be organized into highly precise synaptic networks. How do neurons navigate cellular complexity and synapse with the right partners amidst so many inappropriate ones? Our goal is to identify general molecular principles underlying precise neural connectivity.

We study the molecular basis of neural connectivity in the fly visual system which comprises a stereotyped cellular architecture and contains genetic tools that allow manipulation of specific cell types during development with single cell resolution. In flies, visual information is captured by photoreceptors in the retina and processed in the brain by large ensembles of neurons. Anatomically, these neurons are organized in a modular fashion into columns and layers. Columns process information captured from discrete points in visual space and within each column different visual features (e.g. motion and color) are computed within specific layers. Each layer contains synapses between many neurons but not all neurons in a layer synapse with each other, suggesting molecular determinants underlie synaptic specificity.

Using the advanced genetic toolkit for Drosophila and cell-specific tools available in the visual system we design creative and rigorous experiments to address the following questions:

(1) How do neurons achieve their unique morphologies and layer specificities?

The organization of synapses between specific neurons into layers provides a structural basis for extracting salient features from the environment. Thus, the ability of neurons to elaborate layer-specific arborizations is fundamental to neural circuit assembly and information processing.  By understanding how highly related neurons innervate distinct layers we aim to identify molecular strategies underlying layer specificity.

(2) Within layers how do neurons discriminate between appropriate and inappropriate synaptic partners?

We have identified two families of heterophilic cell recognition molecules whose members are expressed in a complementary manner by specific synaptic pairs. We envision that heterophilic interactions between these molecules provide a common mechanism by which neurons form connections with specific partners. We are currently assessing whether and how these molecules contribute to synaptic specificity.

(3) How do interactions between synaptic partners lead to synapse formation in vivo?

We have developed tools to study synapse formation in vivo between genetically accessible synaptic pairs. Our goal is to identify cell surface molecules that mediate interactions between synaptic partners and understand how those interactions lead to synapse formation.

pecot media"How do neurons navigate cellular complexity and synapse with the right partners amidst so many inappropriate ones?"

Publications View
Purification of Low-abundant Cells in the Drosophila Visual System.
Authors: Authors: Peng J, Santiago IJ, Pecot MY.
J Vis Exp
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Strategies for assembling columns and layers in the Drosophila visual system.
Authors: Authors: Millard SS, Pecot MY.
Neural Dev
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Drosophila Fezf coordinates laminar-specific connectivity through cell-intrinsic and cell-extrinsic mechanisms.
Authors: Authors: Peng J, Santiago IJ, Ahn C, Gur B, Tsui CK, Su Z, Xu C, Karakhanyan A, Silies M, Pecot MY.
Elife
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Ig Superfamily Ligand and Receptor Pairs Expressed in Synaptic Partners in Drosophila.
Authors: Authors: Tan L, Zhang KX, Pecot MY, Nagarkar-Jaiswal S, Lee PT, Takemura SY, McEwen JM, Nern A, Xu S, Tadros W, Chen Z, Zinn K, Bellen HJ, Morey M, Zipursky SL.
Cell
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Sequential axon-derived signals couple target survival and layer specificity in the Drosophila visual system.
Authors: Authors: Pecot MY, Chen Y, Akin O, Chen Z, Tsui CY, Zipursky SL.
Neuron
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Cell-type-specific labeling of synapses in vivo through synaptic tagging with recombination.
Authors: Authors: Chen Y, Akin O, Nern A, Tsui CY, Pecot MY, Zipursky SL.
Neuron
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Multiple interactions control synaptic layer specificity in the Drosophila visual system.
Authors: Authors: Pecot MY, Tadros W, Nern A, Bader M, Chen Y, Zipursky SL.
Neuron
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The Golgi apparatus maintains its organization independent of the endoplasmic reticulum.
Authors: Authors: Pecot MY, Malhotra V.
Mol Biol Cell
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The Golgi-associated protein GRASP65 regulates spindle dynamics and is essential for cell division
Authors: Authors: Sütterlin C, Polishchuk R, Pecot M, Malhotra V
Mol Biol Cell
Golgi membranes remain segregated from the endoplasmic reticulum during mitosis in mammalian cells.
Authors: Authors: Pecot MY, Malhotra V.
Cell
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