Sarah C Kucenas


  • BS, Valparaiso University
  • PhD, Saint Louis University
  • Postdoc, Vanderbilt University Hospital

Primary Appointment

  • Assistant Professor, Biology


Research Interest(s)

The role of glia in the development, maintenance and regeneration of the nervous system

Research Description

Traditionally, the central and peripheral nervous systems (CNS and PNS, respectively) have been thought of as two, distinct halves of one organ system that are only connected by small bundles of motor and sensory axons. In each half of the nervous system reside specific subpopulations of neurons and glia. Neurons are the electrically excitable cells of the nervous system that process and transmit information. Glia, which translates to "glue" in Greek, have long been thought of as only support cells that maintain the shape and integrity of the nervous system. However, over the last 25 years, research investigating these often ignored cells demonstrate that glia play essential roles in neural development, synapse formation and plasticity, learning and memory and disease, just to name a few. My interests lie in investigating the role of glia in nervous system development and disease, with the goal that the information I learn will lay the groundwork for a more fundamental understanding of the rules that form a functional nervous system and shed light on mechanisms that could be perturbed in disease.

Selected Publications

  • Adventures in wonderland. PLoS genetics. 2015;11(4): e1005086. PMID: 25880320 | PMCID: PMC4399905
  • Perineurial Glia. Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology. 2015;7(6). PMID: 25818566
  • Clark J, O'keefe A, Mastracci T, Sussel L, Matise M, Kucenas S. Mammalian Nkx2.2+ perineurial glia are essential for motor nerve development. Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 2014;243(9): 1116-29. PMID: 24979729 | PMCID: PMC4180512
  • Lewis G, Kucenas S. Perineurial glia are essential for motor axon regrowth following nerve injury. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2014;34(38): 12762-77. PMID: 25232113 | PMCID: PMC4166161
  • Smith C, Morris A, Welsh T, Kucenas S. Contact-mediated inhibition between oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and motor exit point glia establishes the spinal cord transition zone. PLoS biology. 2014;12(9): e1001961. PMID: 25268888 | PMCID: PMC4181976
  • Binari L, Lewis G, Kucenas S. Perineurial glia require Notch signaling during motor nerve development but not regeneration. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2013;33(10): 4241-52. PMID: 23467342 | PMCID: PMC3668856
  • Lewis G, Kucenas S. Motor nerve transection and time-lapse imaging of glial cell behaviors in live zebrafish. Journal of visualized experiments : JoVE. 2013;. PMID: 23852039
  • Takada N, Kucenas S, Appel B. Sox10 is necessary for oligodendrocyte survival following axon wrapping. Glia. 2010;58(8): 996-1006. PMID: 20229602 | PMCID: PMC3639140
  • Kucenas S, Cox J, Soto F, Lamora A, Voigt M. Ectodermal P2X receptor function plays a pivotal role in craniofacial development of the zebrafish. Purinergic signalling. 2009;5(3): 395-407. PMID: 19529983 | PMCID: PMC2717322
  • Kucenas S, Snell H, Appel B. nkx2.2a promotes specification and differentiation of a myelinating subset of oligodendrocyte lineage cells in zebrafish. Neuron glia biology. 2009;4(2): 71-81. PMID: 19737431 | PMCID: PMC2821284
  • Kucenas S, Wang W, Knapik E, Appel B. A selective glial barrier at motor axon exit points prevents oligodendrocyte migration from the spinal cord. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 2009;29(48): 15187-94. PMID: 19955371 | PMCID: PMC2837368
  • Watanabe M, Kucenas S, Bowman T, Ruhlman M, Knuepfer M. Angiotensin II and CRF receptors in the central nucleus of the amygdala mediate hemodynamic response variability to cocaine in conscious rats. Brain research. 2009;1309 53-65. PMID: 19879859 | PMCID: PMC2821715
  • Kucenas S, Takada N, Park H, Woodruff E, Broadie K, Appel B. CNS-derived glia ensheath peripheral nerves and mediate motor root development. Nature neuroscience. 2008;11(2): 143-51. PMID: 18176560 | PMCID: PMC2657597
  • Kucenas S, Soto F, Cox J, Voigt M. Selective labeling of central and peripheral sensory neurons in the developing zebrafish using P2X(3) receptor subunit transgenes. Neuroscience. 2006;138(2): 641-52. PMID: 16413125
  • Cox J, Kucenas S, Voigt M. Molecular characterization and embryonic expression of the family of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit genes in the zebrafish. Developmental dynamics : an official publication of the American Association of Anatomists. 2005;234(3): 756-66. PMID: 16123982
  • Kucenas S, Li Z, Cox J, Egan T, Voigt M. Molecular characterization of the zebrafish P2X receptor subunit gene family. Neuroscience. 2003;121(4): 935-45. PMID: 14580944