PiN Faculty Member - John Flanagan, PhD

John Flanagan, PhD

Professor of Cell Biology

Harvard Medical School
Department of Cell Biology,
Building C2, Room 523
240 Longwood Avenue
Boston, MA 02115
Tel: 617-432-4096; 2697
Fax: 617-432-1144
Visit my lab page here.

Our broad interest is to understand how cell-cell signaling mechanisms contribute to the development, degeneration and and regeneration of neuronal connections. We use a broad range of approaches including biochemical, molecular, cellular, and in vivo studies.

The functioning of the nervous system depends on the precise and complex spatial order of its connections. These connections are initially set up during development, when the motile growth cone at the axon tip is directed toward the correct target by axon guidance cues. Later in life, when connections in the adult central nervous system are lost due to injury or disease, regeneration is minimal, creating a major clinical challenge. We identified some of the key developmental axon guidance molecules and we are interested in the mechanisms and logic by which they set up the pattern of axonal connections during development. We also identified some of the first known receptors for a major family of molecules that block axon regeneration after injury, the CSPGs, opening up a new research area into therapeutic approaches to promote axon regeneration following injury.

In addition to studying receptors and their ligands, we are interested in the mechanisms that convert extracellular guidance information into an appropriate response within the cell. We have a particular current interest in RNA-based mechanisms. Regulation of mRNA translation provides a way to target protein synthesis to specific locations within the cell. Since the neuron is a highly polarized cell, it provides a particularly good model to study subcellularly localized translation. We and others have shown that protein synthesis can be regulated within the neuron in a precisely localized manner, and that it plays unique functional roles in synapse plasticity and axon guidance.

Last Update: 12/5/2018


For a complete listing of publications click here.



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