Seed Grant Committee Member, Scientific Leadership Council Member, Bio-X Affiliated Faculty

Dr. Kang Shen studies fundamental cell biology questions in the nervous system. These questions include how neurons form their synaptic connections by choosing specific synaptic partners, at particular subcellular locations, with appropriate size and density; how dendrites aquire their shape; and how neurons achieve polarized microtubule organization. His lab takes advantage of the simple neural circuits and genetic tools of C. elegans to study these questions in vivo.

Dr. Shen's laboratory is interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms of neural circuit assembly. They are studying a number of key cell biological questions during the development and maintenance of neural circuits. Although they have traditionally focused on mechanisms of synaptic specificity (topics 1 and 2) and synapse assembly (topic 3), their recent work has also started to shed light on the mechanisms of axonal transport (topics 4 and 5), neuronal cytoskeletal polarity (topic 6), and dendrite branching (topic 7).  

  1. Axon guidance cues can pattern synapses by inhibiting synaptogenesis and maintenance. 
  2. Cellular and molecular mechanisms of synaptic specificity in vivo.
  3. Molecular mechanisms of presynaptic assembly in vivo.
  4. Interaction of active zone proteins and synaptic vesicles (SV) dictate the trafficking of SV and the size of synapses.
  5. Molecular regulation of the intracellular trafficking of synaptic vesicles.
  6. Molecular mechanisms of microtubule polarity in neurons.
  7. Molecular mechanisms of dendrite branching and growth.