Çagla Eroglu, Ph.D.

Photo of Çagla Eroglu

Phone: 919-684-3605

333A Nanaline Duke Bldg.
Box 3709
Duke University Med. Center
Durham, NC 27710

Email: c DOT eroglu AT cellbio DOT duke DOT edu

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Assistant Professor

Cell Biology, School of Medicine

DIBS Faculty

Research Description

Our laboratory is interested in understanding how central nervous system (CNS) synapses are formed. In the CNS, neurons make very specific connections with distant targets and establishment of these synaptic contacts are meticulously timed, demonstrating the presence of a complex control of synapse formation. However our knowledge on regulation of synaptogenesis is still limited.

Synapses are essentially asymmetric cell adhesions. Since synapses in the CNS are formed between neurons, traditional studies in synapse formation primarily focuses on neuronal cell surface molecules. However in the last decade astrocytes, the most abundant cell type in the CNS, emerged as an important player in the formation of synapses.

We are able to study the effect of astrocytes in synapse formation thanks to our retinal ganglion neuron culture system. Unlike many other primary neuronal culture systems, retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) can be isolated from rodent retina as a pure population and can be cultured in the absence of any other cell type, in a serum free well-defined culture media. Interestingly, RGCs cultured in the absence of astrocytes form very few synapses. In contrast, neurons cultured in the presence of astrocytes or astrocyte conditioned media form many synapses. This is due to the fact that astrocytes secrete factors that regulate synapse formation. We work to identify these factors and elucidate the molecular and cellular mechanisms by which astrocytes regulate synapse formation both in vitro and in vivo.

Understanding synaptogenesis is crucial for understanding how our brains are sculpted during development, and how we learn and remember as adults. In addition, knowledge on how synaptogenesis can go awry has important health implications for understanding the pathophysiology of diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, and drug addiction.


Postdoc, Stanford University, Neurobiology Department, Palo Alto CA, 2003-2008

Ph.D., European Molecular Biology Laboratory and University of Heidelberg (Germany), 2002

M.S., Bilkent University (Turkey), Molecular Biology and Genetics, 1998

B.S., Middle East Technical University (Turkey), Chemical Engineering, 1996

Recent Publications

Kucukdereli H, Allen NJ, Lee AT, Feng A, Ozlu MI, Conatser LM, Chakraborty C, Workman G, Weaver M, Sage EH, Barres BA, Eroglu C. Control of excitatory CNS synaptogenesis by astrocyte-secreted proteins Hevin and SPARC. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Jul 25. [Epub ahead of print].

Eroglu C, Barres BA. Regulation of synaptic connectivity by glia. Nature. 2010 Nov 11;468(7321):223-231.

Eroglu, C., Allen, N.J., Susman, M.W., O'Rourke, N.A., Park, C.Y., Ozkan, E., Chakraborty, C., Mulinyawe, S.B., Annis, D.S., Huberman, A.D., et al. (2009). Gabapentin receptor alpha2delta-1 is a neuronal thrombospondin receptor responsible for excitatory CNS synaptogenesis. Cell 139, 380-392.

Research Areas

Research Topics

  • Synaptogenesis
  • Astrocytes
  • Extracellular Matrix