The long-term goal of the research in our laboratory is to define signaling mechanisms underlying neural circuitry formation within sensory systems and how those connections can be maintained or reestablished in cases of damage. The auditory system provides an excellent model for discovering how neural connections form within a complex organ system, as the cochlea is composed of an array of cell types and structures precisely arranged to detect a range of sound frequencies. The mammalian cochlea is composed of a beautiful and fascinating set of sensory structures including hair cells (HCs) and spiral ganglion neurons (SGNs), which are connected by glutamatergic ribbon synapses. Together, these structures transduce all auditory input into the CNS.
In our laboratory, we address the auditory system using techniques ranging from in vitro and genetic model systems, to transcriptome analyses of different cell populations. We will also use advanced imaging techniques to try and achieve an unprecedented view of how specific molecular factors control key aspects of SGN development and synaptogenesis.
The Coate lab is supported by The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, the Mathers Foundation, and Georgetown University.