Where Ideas grow

Nerve Regeneration


We are interested in characterising pathways that control axon growth during development, and axon degeneration and regeneration following injury and disease. We have a special focus on studying the axonal cytoskeleton organisation and dynamics, and axonal trafficking.



Neurons, one of the most striking examples of polarization in eukaryotic cells, are dependent on cytoskeleton dynamics and trafficking to establish their distinctive cell shape and function. Understanding the basic neuronal cell biology is crucial to unravel the causes of neurodegeneration, and to develop strategies to promote axon regeneration.


Research in our group has currently the following main topics:
- Characterise the biogenesis and function of the axonal membrane periodic skeleton;
- Understand cytoskeleton dynamics and trafficking during axon regeneration;
- Identify cytoskeleton alterations underlying neurodegeneration;
- Identify the determinants of the central-peripheral polarity of dorsal root ganglia neurons.


Our work brings together in vitro neuronal cell culture systems, and in vivo mouse and rat models, including the model of spinal cord injury and models of rare neurodegenerative disorders (Globoid Cell Leukodystrophy and Amyloid-related neuropathies). These models combined with genetic strategies, cell biology and biochemical approaches, and state-of-the-art microscopy, allow us to advance our knowledge on the mechanisms that regulate axon growth, degeneration and regeneration.

Team Coordinators


Selected Publications

Pinto-Costa R., Sousa S.C., Leite S.C., Nogueira-Rodrigues J., da Silva T.F., Machado D., Marques J., Costa A.C., Liz M.A., Bartolini F., Brites P., Costell M., Fässler R., Sousa M.M.,
Profilin 1 delivery tunes cytoskeletal dynamics toward CNS axon regeneration. Journal of Clinical Investigation130(4):2024-2040, 2020. [Journal: Article] [CI: 2] [IF: 11,9 (*)]
DOI: 10.1172/JCI125771 SCOPUS: 85082814702. .

Costa A.R., Sousa S.C., Pinto-Costa R., Mateus J.C., Lopes C.D.F., Costa A.C., Rosa D., Machado D., Pajuelo L., Wang X., Zhou F.Q., Pereira A.J., Sampaio P., Rubinstein B.Y., Pinto I.M., Lampe M., Aguiar P., Sousa M.M.,
The membrane periodic skeleton is an actomyosin network that regulates axonal diameter and conduction. eLife9:, 2020. [Journal: Article] [CI: 6] [IF: 7,1 (*)]
DOI: 10.7554/eLife.55471 SCOPUS: 85082635132. .

Nascimento A.I., Mar F.M., Sousa M.M.,
The intriguing nature of dorsal root ganglion neurons: Linking structure with polarity and function. Progress in Neurobiology168:86-103, 2018. [Journal: Review] [CI: 16] [IF: 10,7]
DOI: 10.1016/j.pneurobio.2018.05.002 SCOPUS: 85048777484. .

Franquinho F., Nogueira-Rodrigues J., Duarte J.M., Esteves S.S., Carter-Su C., Monaco A.P., Molnár Z., Velayos-Baeza A., Brites P., Sousa M.M.,
The Dyslexia-susceptibility Protein KIAA0319 Inhibits Axon Growth Through Smad2 Signaling. Cerebral cortex (New York, N.Y. : 1991)27(3):1732-1747, 2017. [Journal: Article] [CI: 7]
DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhx023 SCOPUS: 85021858395. .

Leite S.C., Sampaio P., Sousa V.F., Nogueira-Rodrigues J., Pinto-Costa R., Peters L.L., Brites P., Sousa M.M.,
The Actin-Binding Protein a-Adducin Is Required for Maintaining Axon Diameter. Cell Reports15(3):490-498, 2016. [Journal: Article] [CI: 46] [IF: 8,3]
DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2016.03.047 SCOPUS: 84962762309. .

Mar F.M., Simões A.R., Leite S., Morgado M.M., Santos T.E., Rodrigo I.S., Teixeira C.A., Misgeld T., Sousa M.M.,
CNS axons globally increase axonal transport after peripheral conditioning. Journal of Neuroscience34(17):5965-5970, 2014. [Journal: Article] [CI: 47] [IF: 6,3]
DOI: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4680-13.2014 SCOPUS: 84899493785. .

Mar F.M., Bonni A., Sousa M.M.,
Cell intrinsic control of axon regeneration. EMBO Reports15(3):254-263, 2014. [Journal: Review] [CI: 71] [IF: 9,1]
DOI: 10.1002/embr.201337723 SCOPUS: 84898614180. .