The Cunningham Lab is interested in understanding the neural and sensory biology of the vertebrate auditory system. Many unique and highly specialized proteins with exquisitely precise subcellular localizations are critical for each step of sound processing. Hearing loss is the most common sensory deficit, and multiple forms of hearing loss involve aberrant proteostasis—improper assembly, trafficking, and/or regulation of key auditory proteins. We utilize mouse models of human deafness for our experiments. The similarities between the rodent and human auditory systems allow for a panoply of experimental manipulations that aim to uncover basic biological mechanisms and translational insights relevant for human health. The lab utilizes cutting-edge techniques including the generation and analysis of novel genetic mouse models combined with biochemistry, molecular biology, histology, viral vectors and high-resolution fluorescent microscopic imaging. Ultimately, we hope to utilize our findings toward the development of new therapies for hearing loss and deafness. To this end, we are very interested in developing gene therapy strategies that can treat hearing loss.
Selected Recent Publications
X Liang*, X Qiu*, G Dionne*, Christopher L. Cunningham, ML Pucak, G Peng, Y Kim, A Lauer, L Shapiro, U Müller. 2021. Cib2 and Cib3 are auxiliary subunits of the mechanotransduction channel of hair cells. Neuron. Jun 4. DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2021.05.007. *These authors contributed equally to this work.
Christopher L. Cunningham*, X Qiu*, Z Wu, B Zhao, G Peng, Y Kim, A Lauer, U Müller. 2020. TMIE defines pore and gating properties of the mechanotransduction channel of mammalian cochlear hair cells. Neuron. Apr 16. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2020.03.033. *These authors contributed equally to this work.
Christopher L. Cunningham*, Ulrich Müller*. 2019. Molecular structure of the hair cell mechanoelectrical transduction complex. CSHL Perspectives in Medicine. 2019 May 1;9(5). pii: a033167. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a033167. *Co-corresponding authors.
Christopher L. Cunningham, Z Wu, A Jafari, B Zhao, K Schrode, S Harkins-Perry, A Lauer, U Müller. 2017. The Murine Catecholamine Methyltransferase mTOMT is Essential for Mechanotransduction by Cochlear Hair Cells. eLife. May 15; 6. doi: 10.7554/eLife.24318.
Z Wu, N Grillet, B Zhao, Christopher Cunningham, S Harkins-Perry, B Coste, S Ranade, N Zebarjadi, M Beurg, R Fettiplace, A Patapoutian, U Müller. 2016. Mechanosensory hair cells express two molecularly distinct mechanotransduction channels. Nature Neuroscience. Nov 28. doi:10.1038/nn.4449.
C Gil-Sanz, A Espinosa, SP Fregoso, KK Bluske, Christopher L. Cunningham, I Martinez-Garay, SJ Franco, U Müller. 2015. Lineage tracing using Cux2-Cre and Cux2Cre-ERT2 mice. Neuron. 86(4):1091-9.
Christopher L. Cunningham, V Martinez-Cerdeno, SC Noctor. 2013. Microglia regulate the number of precursor cells in the developing cerebral cortex. Journal of Neuroscience. Mar 6;33(10):4216-33. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.3441-12.2013.