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Profile Detail

Kristy Welshhans

Assistant Professor


2007-2011: Postdoctoral Fellow, Emory University School of Medicine

2007: Ph.D. in Neurobiology & Behavior, Georgia State University

2000: B.A. in Biology, Agnes Scott College

Scholarly, Creative & Professional Activities

Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding how appropriate connectivity within the nervous system is established during development. Specifically, I am interested in the mechanisms by which the growth cone, which is the pathfinding structure of the developing neuron, migrates to and connects with its appropriate targets. My research employs a variety of molecular, cellular and advanced imaging techniques to understand the mechanisms underlying growth cone motility and guidance. Ultimately, the objective of my research is to understand how growth cones respond to external guidance cues, via the intracellular molecular mechanisms that are activated by these cues, and thus, enable developing axons to migrate, identify and synapse onto their appropriate targets. This research will further our understanding of how nervous system connectivity is formed during development and provide insight into treatments for a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders.

There are three facets to my research on growth cone migration. First of these is how the basic cytoskeletal components of growth cones are affected by environmental cues during migration. Furthermore, I study how these external cues are translated into intracellular signaling cascades that ultimately result in changes to the cytoskeleton to alter growth cone dynamics. Finally, I am examining how the localization of mRNA transcripts to the developing axon, and the local translation of these transcripts, plays an essential role in the migratory process of growth cones. Taken together, this research will provide us with a unified understanding of the role that local translation plays in axon growth and guidance, and relate that to the cytoskeletal underpinnings that regulate this process.



Ceci M., Welshhans K., Ciotti M.T., Brandi R., Parisi C., Paoletti F., Pistillo L., Bassell G., Cattaneo A. (2012) RACK1 is a ribosome scaffold protein for β-actin mRNA/ZBP1 complex. PLoS ONE.7(4):e35034.

Welshhans K. and Bassell G.J. (2011) Netrin-1-induced local β-actin synthesis and growth cone guidance requires zipcode binding protein 1. Journal of Neuroscience. 31: 9800-9813.

Sasaki Y., Welshhans K., Wen Z., Yao J., Xu M., Goshima Y., Zheng J.Q., and Bassell G.J. (2010) Phosphorylation of zipcode binding protein 1 is required for brain-derived neurotrophic factor signaling of local β-actin synthesis and growth cone turning. Journal of Neuroscience. 30: 9349-9358.

Zou J.,Hofer A.M., Lurtz M.M.,Gadda G., Ellis A.L.,Chen N.,Huang Y.,Holder A., Ye Y., Louis C.F.,Welshhans K., Rehder V., and Yang J.J. (2007) Developing sensors for real-time measurement of high Ca2+ concentrations. Biochemistry 46: 12275-12288.

Welshhans K. and Rehder V. (2007) Nitric oxide regulates growth cone filopodial dynamics via ryanodine receptor-mediated calcium release. European Journal of Neuroscience. 26(6): 1537-47.

Tornieri K., Welshhans K., Geddis M.S., and Rehder, V. (2006) Control of neurite outgrowth and growth cone motility by phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase. Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton. 63(4): 173-92.

Welshhans K.and Rehder V. (2005) Local activation of the nitric oxide/cyclic guanosine monophosphate pathway in growth cones regulates filopodial length via protein kinase G, cyclic ADP ribose, and intracellular Ca2+ release.  European Journal of Neuroscience. 22(12): 3006-3016.

Zou J., Ye Y., Welshhans K., Lurtz M., Ellis A., Louis C., Rehder V., and Yang J.J.  (2005) Expression and optical properties of green fluorescent protein expressed in different cellular environments.  Journal of Biotechnology. 119(4): 368-378. 

Lynn-Bullock C.P., Welshhans K., Pallas S.L., and Katz P.S. (2004) The effect of oral 5-HTP administration on 5-HTP and 5-HT immunoreactivity in monoaminergic brain regions of rats.  Journal of Chemical Neuroanatomy.27(2):129-38.

Research Areas
  • Developmental neurobiology
  • Neurodevelopmental disease
  • Mechanisms underlying the formation of neuronal connectivity
  • mRNA transport and local protein synthesis in nervous system development and disease
Kristy Welshhans
Department of Biological Sciences
Office: 27 Cunningham Hall
Phone: 330-672-2957
Fax: 330-672-3713
Spring 2014
  • BSCI 30005 - 002 Career Pathways In Biology
  • BSCI 40099 - 004 Senior Honors Thesis
  • BSCI 40196 - 019 Individual Investigation
  • BSCI 80198 - 014 Research
  • BSCI 80199 - 008 Dissertation I
Summer 2014
  • BSCI 40196 - 012 Individual Investigation
  • BSCI 80198 - 032 Research
  • BSCI 80199 - 028 Dissertation I
Fall 2014
  • BSCI 40146 - 001 Developmental Biology
  • BSCI 40600 - 006 Writing In Biological Sciences
  • BSCI 50146 - 001 Developmental Biology
  • BSCI 70146 - 001 Developmental Biology
  • BSCI 80199 - 012 Dissertation I
  • BSCI 80299 - 014 Dissertation Ii