Vasja Urbančič

Vasja Urbančič

University position

PhD student
Supervised by Christine Holt


Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience

Research Themes

Developmental Neuroscience

Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


The growth cones of developing axons are guided on their journey through the developing nervous system by guidance cues that instruct their progression along a precise pathway towards their target area. The responses of growth cones to many of these guidance cues depend crucially on local mRNA translation in the axon. Axons harbour highly complex transcriptomes and we currently have a very incomplete understanding of which transcripts need to be locally translated to enable growth cones to respond to guidance cues. Using the Xenopus retinal ganglion cells as a model system, I study the dynamics of the translational response in the growth cone and the role of cytoskeletal and adhesion-related mRNA species whose translation is important for growth cone guidance downstream of guidance cues.

A growth cone stained for the actin (green) and microtubule (blue) cytoskeleton
A growth cone stained for actin (green) and microtubule (blue) cytoskeleton
Click image to view full-size

Research Focus


axon guidance

mRNA translation


cell adhesion

Clinical conditions

No direct clinical relevance


Cell culture

Confocal microscopy

Fluorescence microscopy

Laser capture microdissection




Jenny Gallop

Clemens Kaminski

Associated News Items



    Evans IR, Ghai PA, Urbančič V, Tan KL, Wood W (2013), “SCAR/WAVE-mediated processing of engulfed apoptotic corpses is essential for effective macrophage migration in Drosophila.” Cell Death Differ 20(5):709-20 Details

    Leung LC, Urbančič V, Baudet ML, Dwivedy A, Bayley TG, Lee AC, Harris WA, Holt CE (2013), “Coupling of NF-protocadherin signaling to axon guidance by cue-induced translation.” Nat Neurosci 16(2):166-73 Details


    Pulver SR, Cognigni P, Denholm B, Fabre C, Gu WX, Linneweber G, Prieto-Godino L, Urbancic V, Zwart M, Miguel-Aliaga I (2011), “Why flies? Inexpensive public engagement exercises to explain the value of basic biomedical research on Drosophila melanogaster.” Adv Physiol Educ 35(4):384-92 Details