Anna Molofsky, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor
Department of Psychiatry

Astrocytes are intimately related to neuronal synapses, and are increasingly implicated in neurodevelopment and disease. Our lab studies astrocyte-neuron interactions at the molecular level by identifying novel astrocyte-encoded genes and studying their functional role in circuit and synapse formation during development. The finding that astrocytes are heterogeneous based on their location in the central nervous system provides a powerful tool to begin to identify novel astrocyte-encoded genes based on regional heterogeneity, and explore their functions in the developing nervous system. Using circuits in the developing spinal cord and other CNS regions, we study the role of specific astrocyte-encoded proteins on neuronal positioning, neuronal survival, and synapse formation. We are also interested in how astrocytes communicate with microglia to regulate synapse number and circuit function throughout the lifespan, and may serve as regulators of the innate immune system in the brain. These types of molecular studies will help to elucidate the role of astrocytes in psychiatric diseases of neural circuit formation, including schizophrenia, autism, and others.

Primary Thematic Area: 
Secondary Thematic Area: 
Developmental & Stem Cell Biology
Research Summary: 
Astrocytes in neural circuit formation and function



Astrocyte-encoded positional cues maintain sensorimotor circuit integrity.


Molofsky AV, Kelley KW, Tsai HH, Redmond SA, Chang SM, Madireddy L, Chan JR, Baranzini SE, Ullian EM, Rowitch DH

Expression profiling of Aldh1l1-precursors in the developing spinal cord reveals glial lineage-specific genes and direct Sox9-Nfe2l1 interactions.


Molofsky AV, Glasgow SM, Chaboub LS, Tsai HH, Murnen AT, Kelley KW, Fancy SP, Yuen TJ, Madireddy L, Baranzini S, Deneen B, Rowitch DH, Oldham MC

Regional astrocyte allocation regulates CNS synaptogenesis and repair.

Science (New York, N.Y.)

Tsai HH, Li H, Fuentealba LC, Molofsky AV, Taveira-Marques R, Zhuang H, Tenney A, Murnen AT, Fancy SP, Merkle F, Kessaris N, Alvarez-Buylla A, Richardson WD, Rowitch DH

Regulated temporal-spatial astrocyte precursor cell proliferation involves BRAF signalling in mammalian spinal cord.

Development (Cambridge, England)

Tien AC, Tsai HH, Molofsky AV, McMahon M, Foo LC, Kaul A, Dougherty JD, Heintz N, Gutmann DH, Barres BA, Rowitch DH