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William Graham Wadsworth, Ph.D. Present Title:
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Office Address:
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
675 Hoes Lane, R228
Piscataway, New Jersey 08854


Dr. Wadsworth studies nervous system development.  His research focuses on the extracellular molecules and cellular signaling pathways that allow neurons to make proper connections.  Dr. Wadsworth mentors graduate students and postdoctoral fellows in his laboratory.  He participates in the Biomedical Sciences Graduate Programs. 

Description of Research Expertise:
Axon Guidance and Neurodevelopment, Extracellular Matrix, Developmental Genetics
During the development of a nervous system, specific molecules act as cues to cause axon outgrowth and to guide axons to their correct targets. Using genetic analyses in the model organism Caenorhabditis elegans, we have been studying the molecular mechanisms that control the ability of guidance cues to regulate axon guidance and outgrowth. Neurons must make the proper connections in order for a nervous system to function. Understanding the molecular mechanisms that enable molecules to direct neurons to their targets could provide new insights into disorders that affect the wiring of the nervous system and could also prove useful for developing therapeutic agents to treat nerves damaged by injuries or disease.

Undergraduate Education:
St. Olaf College
Northfield, MN
B.A., in Biology

Graduate Education:
University of Missouri
Columbia, MO
Ph.D., in Biological Sciences

Marine Biological Laboratory
Woods Hole, MA
Physiology: Cell and Molecular Biology Summer Course

Postdoctoral Training:
Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, MD

Selected Publications:

  • Xu, Z., Li, H., and Wadsworth, W.G. (2009). The roles of multiple UNC-40 (DCC) receptor-mediated signals in determining neuronal asymmetry induced by the UNC-6 (netrin) ligand. Genetics 183, 941-949.
  • Quinn, C.C., Pfeil, D.S., and Wadsworth, W.G. (2008). CED-10/Rac1 Mediates Axon Guidance by Regulating the Asymmetric Distribution of MIG-10/Lamellipodin. Curr Biol 18, 808-813.
  • Kulkarni, G., Li, H., and Wadsworth, W.G. (2008). CLEC-38, A Transmembrane Protein with C-Type Lectin-Like Domains, Negatively Regulates UNC-40-Mediated Axon Outgrowth and Promotes Presynaptic Development in Caenorhabditis elegans. J Neurosci 28, 4541-4550.
  • Li, H., Kulkarni, G., and Wadsworth, W.G. (2008). RPM-1, a Caenorhabditis elegans protein that functions in presynaptic differentiation, negatively regulates axon outgrowth by controlling SAX-3/robo and UNC-5/UNC5 activity. J Neurosci 28, 3595-3603.
  • Quinn, C.C., Pfeil, D.S., Chen, E., Stovall, E.L., Harden, M.V., Gavin, M.K., Forrester, W.C., Ryder, E.F., Soto, M.C., and Wadsworth, W.G. (2006). UNC-6/Netrin and SLT-1/Slit Guidance Cues Orient Axon Outgrowth Mediated by MIG-10/RIAM/Lamellipodin. Curr Biol 16, 845-853.
  • Kao, G., Huang, C.C., Hedgecock, E.M., Hall, D.H., and Wadsworth, W.G. (2006). The role of the laminin beta subunit in laminin heterotrimer assembly and basement membrane function and development in C. elegans. Dev Biol 290, 211-219.
  • Huang, C. C., Hall, D. H., Hedgecock, E. M., Kao, G., Karantza, V., Vogel, B. E., Hutter, H., Chisholm, A. D., Yurchenco, P. D., and Wadsworth, W. G. (2003). Laminin alpha subunits and their role in C. elegans development. Development 130, 3343- 3358.
  • Merris, M., Wadsworth, W. G., Khamrai, U., Bittman, R., Chitwood, D. J., and Lenard, J. (2003). Sterol effects and sites of sterol accumulation in Caenorhabditis elegans: developmental requirement for 4alpha-methyl sterols. J Lipid Res 44, 172- 181.
  • Lim, Y.S. and Wadsworth, W. G. (2002) Identification of domains of netrin UNC-6 that mediate attractive and repulsive guidance and responses from cells and growth cones. J Neurosce, 22, 7080-7087.
  • Wang, Q., and Wadsworth, W. G. (2002). The C domain of netrin UNC-6 silences calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase- and diacylglycerol-dependent axon branching in Caenorhabditis elegans. J Neurosci 22, 2274-2282.
  • Kim, S., and Wadsworth, W. G. (2000). Positioning of longitudinal nerves in C. elegans by nidogen. Science 288, 150-154.
  • Lim, Y. S., Mallapur, S., Kao, G., Ren, X. C., and Wadsworth, W. G. (1999). Netrin UNC-6 and the Regulation of Branching and Extension of Motoneuron Axons from the Ventral Nerve Cord of Caenorhabditis elegans. J Neurosci 19, 7048-7056.
  • Kim, S., Ren, X. C., Fox, E., and Wadsworth, W. G. (1999). SDQR migrations in Caenorhabditis elegans are controlled by multiple guidance cues and changing responses to netrin UNC-6. Development 126, 3881-3890.
  • Ren, X. C., Kim, S., Fox, E., Hedgecock, E. M., and Wadsworth, W. G. (1999). Role of netrin UNC-6 in patterning the longitudinal nerves of Caenorhabditis elegans. J Neurobiol 39, 107-18.
  • Wadsworth, W. G., Bhatt, H., and Hedgecock, E. M. (1996). Neuroglia and pioneer neurons express UNC-6 to provide global and local netrin cues for guiding migrations in C. elegans. Neuron 16, 35-46.
  • Ishii, N., Wadsworth, W. G., Stern, B. D., Culotti, J. G., and Hedgecock, E. M. (1992). UNC-6, a laminin-related protein, guides cell and pioneer axon migration in C. elegans. Neuron 9, 873-881.
  • Wadsworth, W. G., and Hedgecock, E. M. (1992). Guidance of neuroblast migrations and axonal projections in Caenorhabditis elegans. Current Opinion in Neurobiology 2, 36-41.
  • Wadsworth, W.G., and Riddle, D.L. (1989). Developmental regulation of energy metabolism in Caenorhabditis elegans. Develop. Biol. 132, 167-173.
  • Wadsworth, W.G., and Riddle, D.L. (1988). Acidic intracellular pH shift during Caenorhabditis elegans larval development. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci USA 85, 8435-8438.