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Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
The Ken & Ruth Davee Department of Neurology
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Neuroimmunology Research

Below are faculty studying novel agents and therapeutics to advance the understanding of multiple sclerosis (MS) and related inflammatory diseases and continually improve treatment options.

Labs

 Brian Popko Lab

 The Popko Lab's research interests include studies designed to uncover fundamental aspects of myelinating glial cell development, the myelination process, as well as the detailed function of the myelin sheath.

The Popko laboratory has a long-standing interest in the myelin sheath.  Myelin is the multilayered membrane structure that surrounds most axons of the central and peripheral nervous systems. This extension of the myelinating glial cells’ plasma membrane promotes the very rapid nerve conduction velocities that are required in higher vertebrates, and it provides critical trophic support to the axons.  Myelin is produced by Schwan cells in the peripheral nervous system and by oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system.
       Our research interests include studies designed to uncover fundamental aspects of myelinating glial cell development, the myelination process, as well as the detailed function of the myelin sheath. We also devote considerable effort to gaining a better understanding of the neurological disorders that disrupt the myelination process during development and the maintenance of the myelin sheath in adults.  In addition, we are particularly interested in developing therapeutic approaches to protect the myelinating cells from cytotoxic insult and to enhance the remyelination of demyelinated axons.

More information can be found on Dr. Popko's Lab Website.

 Elbaz Lab

We are investigating the mechanisms that regulate myelin-forming cell development and function.

Research Description

Myelin is a multilayer lipid membrane structure that ensheaths and insulates axons, allowing for the efficient propagation of action potentials along axons. Myelin abnormalities are part of a wide range of neurological disorders, including Multiple Sclerosis, leukodystrophies and neurodegenerative disorders. Our efforts to understand the molecular control of myelin formation are crucial in order to intervene, and enhance, myelin formation, remyelination, and recovery.

Our research is dedicated to investigating the mechanisms that regulate myelin-forming cell development and function. Myelin is a multilayer lipid membrane structure that ensheaths and insulates axons, allowing for the efficient propagation of action potentials along axons. Myelin is formed by oligodendrocytes in the central nervous system (CNS), and by Schwann cells in the peripheral nervous system (PNS).

In the CNS, our research is focused on the transcriptional control of oligodendrocyte differentiation and CNS myelin formation. The transcriptional network that controls oligodendrocyte differentiation contains only a handful of transcription factors, many of which have been characterized in considerable detail by us and by others. Nevertheless, our understanding of this transcriptional network is still lacking. Our studies aim to fill this void and fully characterize this transcriptional network. Our main transcription factors of interest are zinc finger protein 24 (Zfp24) and Sp7. Our previous research has identified Zfp24 and Sp7 as transcription factors that are essential for CNS myelination. We are now looking at the upstream effectors and downstream targets of Zfp24, and we are characterizing the role of Sp7 in oligodendrocyte lineage cells. In order to study Zfp24 and Sp7, we are developing novel mice models that allow us to either ablate or activate these transcription factors in oligodendrocyte lineage cells. 

In the PNS, our research is focused on understanding the mechanisms involved in PNS injury, recovery, and remyelination. PNS injury is a critical health concern. Understanding the mechanisms that control the response of Schwann cells to PNS injury is necessary to lay the foundation for future therapies. In our first project, we are focused on the role of the WNT signaling pathway in remyelination of the PNS. In our second PNS project, we are characterizing the effect of PNS demyelination on the sensory neurons.

For lab information and more, see Dr. Elbaz's faculty profile.

Publications

2020

Silicon Nanowires for Intracellular Optical Interrogation with Subcellular Resolution. Rotenberg MY, Elbaz B, Nair V, Schaumann EN, Yamamoto N, Sarma N, Matino L, Santoro F, Tian B. Nano Lett. 2020 Feb 12;20(2):1226-1232. PMID: 31904975.

m6A mRNA Methylation Is Essential for Oligodendrocyte Maturation and CNS Myelination. Xu H, Dzhashiashvili Y, Shah A, Kunjamma RB, Weng YL, Elbaz B, Fei Q, Jones JS, Li YI, Zhuang X, Ming GL, He C, Popko B. Neuron. 2020 Jan 22;105(2):293-309. PMID: 31901304.

A terminal selector prevents a Hox transcriptional switch to safeguard motor neuron identity throughout life. Feng W, Li Y, Dao P, Aburas J, Islam P, Elbaz B, Kolarzyk A, Brown AE, Kratsios P. Elife. 2020 Jan 3;9. PMID: 31902393.

2019

Molecular Control of Oligodendrocyte Development. Elbaz B, Popko B. Trends Neurosci. 2019 Apr;42(4):263-277. PMID: 30770136.

2018

Phosphorylation State of ZFP24 Controls Oligodendrocyte Differentiation. Elbaz B, Aaker JD, Isaac S, Kolarzyk A, Brugarolas P, Eden A, Popko B. Cell Rep. 2018 May 22;23(8):2254-2263.  PMID: 29791837.

2016

Activity-Dependent Myelination Shapes Conduction Velocity. Elbaz B. J Neurosci. 2016 Nov 16;36(46):11585-11586. PMID: 27852767

Transcriptional Fingerprint of Hypomyelination in Zfp191null and Shiverer (Mbpshi) Mice. Aaker JD, Elbaz B, Wu Y, Looney TJ, Zhang L, Lahn BT, Popko B. ASN Neuro. 2016 Oct;8(5). PMID: 27683878.

Adenomatous polyposis coli regulates radial axonal sorting and myelination in the PNS. Elbaz B, Traka M, Kunjamma RB, Dukala D, Brosius Lutz A, Anton ES, Barres BA, Soliven B, Popko B. Development. 2016 Jul 1;143(13):2356-66 PMID: 27226321.

2013

WDR81 is necessary for purkinje and photoreceptor cell survival. Traka M, Millen KJ, Collins D, Elbaz B, Kidd GJ, Gomez CM, Popko B. J Neurosci. 2013 Apr 17;33(16):6834-44 PMID: 23595742.

Immunosuppressive drugs, immunophilins, and functional expression of NCX isoforms. Rahamimoff H, Elbaz B, Valitsky M, Khatib M, Eskin-Schwartz M, Elmaz D. Adv Exp Med Biol. 2013;961:275-87. PMID: 23224887.

2010

Cyclophilin A is involved in functional expression of the Na(+)-Ca(2+) exchanger NCX1. Elbaz B, Valitsky M, Davidov G, Rahamimoff H. Biochemistry. 2010 Sep 7;49(35):7634-42. PMID: 20681522.

2008

Modulation of Na+-Ca2+ exchanger expression by immunosuppressive drugs is isoform-specific. Elbaz B, Alperovitch A, Gottesman MM, Kimchi-Sarfaty C, Rahamimoff H. Mol Pharmacol. 2008 Apr;73(4):1254-63. PMID: 18182482.

2007

Cyclosporin A-dependent downregulation of the Na+/Ca2+ exchanger expression. Rahamimoff H, Elbaz B, Alperovich A, Kimchi-Sarfaty C, Gottesman MM, Lichtenstein Y, Eskin-Shwartz M, Kasir J. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2007 Mar;1099:204-14. PMID: 17446460.

2006

High expression in leaves of the zinc hyperaccumulator Arabidopsis halleri of AhMHX, a homolog of an Arabidopsis thaliana vacuolar metal/proton exchanger. Elbaz B, Shoshani-Knaani N, David-Assael O, Mizrachy-Dagri T, Mizrahi K, Saul H, Brook E, Berezin I, Shaul O. Plant Cell Environ. 2006 Jun;29(6):1179-90. PMID: 17080942.

Contact

For general lab inquiries, please contact Braesen Rader: braesen.rader@northwestern.edu

For Dr. Elbaz please email: benayahu.elbaz-eilon@northwestern.edu

Our Mailing Addresses

Dr. Elbaz's Office
Benayahu Elbaz-Eilon, PhD
Department of Neurology
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
7-665 Morton Medical Research Building
310 East Superior Street
Chicago, IL 60611

The Elbaz Lab
Braesen Rader
Department of Neurology
Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine
7-450 Searle Building
310 East Superior Street
Chicago, IL 60611

Staff

Braesen Rader, Research Technician
rader@northwestern.edu

Benayahu (Benny) Elbaz-Eilon, Principal investigator, Assistant Professor of Neurology
elbaz-eilon@northwestern.edu

Faculty

Balabanov, Roumen D

Balabanov, Roumen D

Associate Professor of Neurology (MS/Neuroimmunology)

Cohen, Bruce A

Cohen, Bruce A

Professor of Neurology (MS/Neuroimmunology)

Bio

Practice focused on diagnosis and comprehensive treatment of multiple sclerosis and related CNS demyelinating diseases. Research interests focused on novel clinical therapeutics for Multiple Sclerosis... [more]

Kuntz, Nancy L

Kuntz, Nancy L

Professor of Pediatrics (Neurology and Epilepsy) and Neurology - Ken and Ruth Davee Department

Bio

Dr. Nancy Kuntz is a child neurologist with additional board certifications in Pediatrics, Electrodiagnostic Medicine and Autonomic Medicine. Dr. Kuntz joined the Departments of Pediatrics and Neurolo... [more]

Popko, Brian J

Popko, Brian J

Professor of Neurology (MS/Neuroimmunology)

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