Professor of Cell Biology
Faculty Network Member of the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences
Associate of the Duke Initiative for Science & Society
Affiliate of the Duke Regeneration Center
We investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms that underlie synaptic connectivity in the CNS. Distinct from many other laboratories, we view astrocytes as an integral part of the synapse with roles in synapse development, function, and plasticity. Our approach involves anatomical and imaging-based assays in pure primary neuron-astrocyte cultures or genetically-modified mice.
Role of Astrocytes in Synaptic Connectivity
Our brains host billions of neurons that establish trillions of synaptic connections with each other. This complex synaptic web is organized into the neural circuits that direct our motor, sensory and cognitive functions. What are the cellular and molecular interactions that control how this complex synaptic network is weaved during development and remodeled during learning and disease? This is the main question that drives our research. Our perspective includes glial cells, particularly astrocytes, as active participants in the development, remodeling and function of synaptic circuits.
Studies in the last fifteen years have uncovered that astrocytes are powerful controllers of synapse formation, function, plasticity and elimination, both in health and disease. Research from our laboratory revealed a number of important molecular and cellular mechanisms that mediate astrocyte-neuron signaling, which control synapse formation and maturation. Currently, we are continuing to understand the function of astrocyte-neuron communication in the normal mammalian brain. Moreover, we are testing how problems in astrocyte-neuron communication contribute to the pathophysiology of neurodevelopmental disorders and neurodegeneration.
Selected Eroglu Lab Publications
For a complete list of publications and paper PDFs please go to
Singh SK, Stogsdill JA, Pulimood NS, Dingsdale H, Kim YH, Pilaz LJ, Kim IH, Manhaes AC, Rodriguez-Junior WS, Pamukcu A, Enustun E, Ertuz Z, Scheiffele P, Soderling S, Silver DS, Ji R-R, Medina AE, Eroglu C (2016). Astrocytes assemble thalamocortical synapses by bridging neurexin1-alpha and neuroligin-1 via hevin. Cell, Jan 14:164(1-2):183-196.
Koh S, Kim N-S, Yin HH, Harris I, Dejneka N and Eroglu C (2015). Human Umbilical Tissue-Derived Cells Promote Synapse Formation and Neurite Outgrowth via Thrombospondin Family Proteins. J. Neurosci. 2015, Nov 25: 35(47):15649 –15665.
Chung W-S, Allen NJ, Eroglu C, (2015). Astrocytes Control Synapse Formation, Function, and Elimination. Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. Published in Advance February 6, 2015, doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a020370.
Risher WC, Patel S, Kim IH, Uezu A, Bhagat S, Wilton DK, Pilaz L-J, Singh JA, Calhan OY, Silver DL, Stevens B, Calakos N, Soderling SH and Eroglu C (2014). Astrocytes refine cortical connectivity at dendritic spines. eLife Dec 17, 17:3.
Risher W.C., Ustunkaya T., Singh J.A., and Eroglu C. (2014) Rapid Golgi Analysis Method for Efficient and Unbiased Classification of Dendritic Spines. PLoS ONE, Sep 10;9(9):e107591.
McKinstry S.U., Karadeniz Y.B., Worthington, A.K., Hayrapetyan V.Y., Ozlu M.I., Serafin-Molina K., Risher W.C., Ustunkaya, T., Dragatsis, I., Zeitlin S., Yin H.H., Eroglu C. (2014) Huntingtin is required for normal excitatory synapse development in cortical and striatal circuits. J. Neurosci. 2014 Jul 9:34(28):9455-72.
Singh S.K. and Eroglu C. (2013). Neuroligins Provide Molecular Links between Syndromic and Non-Syndromic Autism. Sci. Signaling. Jul 9;6(283):re4.
Risher, W.C., and Eroglu, C. (2012). Thrombospondins as key regulators of synaptogenesis in the central nervous system. Matrix Biol 31, 170-177.
Kucukdereli, H., Allen, N.J., Lee, A.T., Feng, A., Ozlu, M.I., Conatser, L.M., Chakraborty, C., Workman, G., Weaver, M.S., Sage, E.H., Barres, B.A., Eroglu, C. (2011). Control of excitatory CNS synaptogenesis by astrocyte-secreted proteins Hevin and SPARC. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 108, E440-449.
Eroglu, C, Barres, B.A. (2010). Regulation of synaptic connectivity by glia. Nature, Nov 11;468(7321):223-31.
Ippolito DM, Eroglu C (2010). Quantifying synapses: An immunocytochemistry based assay to quantify synapse number. JoVE., doi: 10.3791/2270.
Bolton MM, and Eroglu C (2009). Look who is weaving the neural web: glial control of synapse formation. Current opinion in neurobiology 19: 491-497.
Eroglu C (2009). Astrocyte-Secreted Matricellular Proteins in Central Nervous System Development and Function. Journal of Cell Communication and Signaling 3:167-176.
Eroglu C, Allen NJ, Susman MW, O’Rourke NA, Park CY, Ozkan E, Chakraborty C, Mulinyawe SB, Annis DS, Huberman AD, Green EM, Lawler J, Dolmetsch R, Garcia KC, Smith SJ, Luo ZD, Rosenthal A, Mosher DF, Barres BA (2009). Gabapentin receptor alpha2delta-1 is a neuronal thrombospondin receptor responsible for excitatory CNS synaptogenesis. Cell 139: 380-392.