Peter J. Meberg

Assistant Professor of Biology
University of North Dakota

B.S. 1982, University of North Dakota
M.S. 1990, Ph.D. 1993, Northwestern University
Postdoctoral Fellow, Colorado State University

Molecular and cellular neurobiology; neural plasticity; regulation of the actin cytoskeleton

    My general area of interest is neural plasticity. The nervous system exhibits a tremendous capacity for change in response to injuries and environmental stimuli. For example, experience-dependent modification of connections between neurons is the basis for learning and memory. Other examples of neural plasticity include the regenerative growth of axons to re-innervate their targets after peripheral nerve injury, as well as the pathological sprouting of axons in the brain after seizures or stroke. It is of special interest to determine the mechanisms responsible for such changes in neuronal morphology, since understanding these mechanisms will enable the development of therapeutic interventions for inhibiting or enhancing neuronal growth after injury. For example, enhancing axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury would spur recovery from paralysis.
    Current research efforts are focused on the regulation of actin dynamics during neuronal development. Actin dynamics influence diverse cellular processes, such as ion channel function, receptor clustering, and motility of neuronal growth cones and spines. In particular, I am studying a protein called actin depolymerizing factor (ADF), an important regulator of actin dynamics in response to a wide variety of extracellular signals that influence axonal outgrowth and synaptic function.  For example, increasing the activity of ADF results in increased axonal outgrowth in cultured neurons.  Methods used in these studies include primary neuronal cell culture, video microscopy and digital image analysis, protein analysis, and and molecular biology techniques such as construction of recombinant adenoviruses for delivery of mutant gene constructs.

Prospective Graduate Students:  to get more information about research opportunities in Dr. Meberg's lab, contact him directly.  Additional information can also be obtained from the UND Graduate School and the UND Department of Biology, including application information.


NSF CAREER award, IBN-0093359 (4/01-3/04): “CAREER:  Regulation of growth cone dynamics by actin depolymerizing factor"

National Institutes of Health, 1 R15 NS40760-01 (7/01-6/04):  "Alterations in ADF/cofilin activity related to seizures”

Representative Publications

Meberg, P. J. (2000) Signal-regulated ADF/cofilin activity and growth cone motility.  Molecular NeurobiologyMolecular Neurobiology 21:97-107.

Meberg, P. J. and Bamburg, J. R. (2000) Increase in neurite outgrowth mediated by overexpression of actin depolymerizing factor.  Journal of Neuroscience 20:2459-2469.

Kuhn, T.B., Meberg, P. J., Brown, M. D., Bernstein, B. W., Minamide, L. S., Jensen, J. R, Okada, K., Soda, E. A. and Bamburg, J. R. (2000) Regulating actin dynamics in neuronal growth cones by ADF/cofilin and Rho family GTPases. Journal of Neurobiology 44:126-144.

Minamide, L. S., Streigl, A. M., Boyle, J. A., Meberg, P. J. and Bamburg, J. R. (2000) Neurodegenerative stimuli induce persistent ADF/cofilin-actin rods that disrupt the cytoskeleton and distal function of CNS neurons. Nature Cell Biology 2:628-636.

Meberg, P. J., Kossel, A. H., Williams, C. V.  and Kater, S. B.  (1999) Calcium-dependent alterations in dendritic architecture of hippocampal pyramidal neurons.  Neuroreport 10:639-644.

Meberg, P. J., Ono, S., Minamide, L.S., Takahashi, M. and Bamburg, J. R. (1998) Actin depolymerizing factor and cofilin phosphorylation dynamics: response to signals that regulate neurite extension. Cell Motility and the Cytoskeleton 39:172-190.

Meberg, P. J., Kinney, W. R., Valcourt, E. G and Routtenberg, A. (1996) Gene expression of the transcription factor NF-kB in brain: regulation by synaptic activity. Molecular Brain Research 38:179-190

Last update 2/1/02