Patricia Phelps, Ph.D.

Work Titles
UCLA Professor, Integrative Biology and Physiology Member, Brain Research Institute Member, Cell & Developmental Biology GPB Home Area Member, Molecular, Cellular & Integrative Physiology GPB Home Area Member, Neuroscience GPB Home Area

Contact Information:

Email Address:


Phelps Lab

Lab Number:

(310) 825-8108

Office Phone Number:

(310) 825-7264

Laboratory Address:

Terasaki Life Science Building
610 Charles Young Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Work Address:

610 Charles Young Dr.
Los Angeles, CA 90095

Research Interest:

Spinal cord injury and spinal cord development

Spinal cord injury and axon regeneration; Neuronal development and migration

A major focus in the lab is to determine molecules that facilitate axonal regeneration after spinal cord injury. To date we have studied olfactory ensheathing cells (OECs) that are unique glia associated with the only adult neurons that are generated throughout life and project their axons from the PNS (nose) into the CNS (olfactory bulb). Dr. Phelps and her students, in collaboration with the Edgerton Lab, found that the transplantation of OEC above and below a complete spinal cord transection promotes axon regeneration and results in electrophysiological, anatomical, and behavioral changes in hindlimb function. Such findings suggest that OEC promote regeneration of mature axons and the reorganization of spinal circuitry, both of which contribute to sensorimotor function. Her laboratory also developed several culture models and found that OECs facilitate axon regeneration on a myelin substrate and that the brain-derived neurotrophic factor secreted by OEC is one mechanism by which these cells promote axon outgrowth. More recently we learned that OECs promote neurite outgrowth by direct cell-to-cell actions. Developmental studies in the lab focus on neuronal migration in the dorsal horn of the reeler spinal cord. Reelin, the protein absent in naturally occurring reeler mutants, is a large extracellular matrix molecule that binds to lipoprotein receptors (Vldl and Apoer2). Reelin signaling causes tyrosine phosphorylation of an intracellular adaptor protein Disabled1, which then initiates a cascade of events that lead to correct neuronal positioning. We found that the loss of Reelin-signaling causes hypersensitivity to thermal nociception and insensitivity to mechanical stimulation. Current experiments focus on dissecting the cellular defects that underlie this unusual combination of nociceptive defects.


A selected list of publications:

Khankan, R.R., I.B. Wanner, and P.E. Phelps   Olfactory ensheathing cell-neurite alignment enhances neurite outgrowth in scar-like cultures, Experimental Neurology, 2015; 269: 93-101.
Abadesco, A., M. Cilluffo, G.M. Yvone, E.M. Carpenter, B.W. Howell, and P.E. Phelps   Novel Disabled-1-expressing neurons identified in adult brain and spinal cord, European Journal of Neuroscience , 2014; 39: 579-592.
Awe, J.P., P.C. Lee, C. Ramathal, A. Vega-Crespo, J. Durruthy-Durruthy, A. Cooper, S. Karumbayaram, W. Lowry, A. Clark, J. Zack, V. Sebastiano, D. Kohn, A. Pyle, M. Martin, G.S. Lipshutz, P.E. Phelps, R. Reijo Pera and J.A. Byrne   Generation and characterization of transgene-free human induced pluripotent stem cells and conversion to putative clinical-grade status, Stem Cell Research & Therapy, 2013; 4: 87.
Wang, X., A.H. Babayan, A.I. Basbaum and P.E. Phelps   Loss of the Reelin-signaling pathway differentially disrupts heat, mechanical and chemical nociceptive processing. , Neuroscience, 2012; 226: 441-450.
Moore K.D, Chen R., Cilluffo M., Golden J.A., Phelps P.E.   Lis1 reduction causes tangential migratory errors in mouse spinal cord The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 2012; 520: 1198-211.
Takeoka, A., D.L. Jindrich, C. Muñoz-Quiles, H. Zhong, R. van den Brand, D.L. Pham, M.D. Ziegler, A. Ramón-Cueto, R.R. Roy, V.R. Edgerton, and P.E. Phelps   Axon regeneration can facilitate or suppress hindlimb function after OEG transplantation, Journal of Neuroscience, 2011; 31: 4298-4310.
Ziegler MD, Hsu D, Takeoka A, Zhong H, Ramón-Cueto A, Phelps PE, Roy RR, and Edgerton VR   Further evidence of Olfactory Ensheathing Glia facilitating axonal regeneration after a complete spinal cord transection, Experimental Neurology, 2011; 229: 109-119.
Takeoka, A, Kubasak, MD, Zhong, H, Kaplan, J, Roy, RR, Phelps, PE   Noradrenergic innervation of the rat spinal cord caudal to a complete spinal cord transection: Effects of olfactory ensheathing glia Experimental Neurology, 2010; 222: 59-69.
Phelps Patricia E   Reelin induces a common signal for spinal cord and cerebral cortical migration (commentary on Kruger et al.) The European Journal of Neuroscience, 2010; 32: 1609-10.
Shields*, S.D., K.D. Moore*, P.E. Phelps, and A.I. Basbaum   Olfactory ensheathing glia express Aquaporin 1, Journal of Comparative Neurology , 2010; 518: 4329-4341.
Takeoka Aya, Kubasak Marc D, Zhong Hui, Roy Roland R, Phelps Patricia E   Serotonergic innervation of the caudal spinal stump in rats after complete spinal transection: Effect of olfactory ensheathing glia Journal of Comparative Neurology, 2009; 515: 664-76.
Runyan, SA, Phelps, PE   Mouse olfactory ensheathing glia enhance axon outgrowth on a myelin Experimental Neurology, 2009; 216: 95-104.
Akopians Alin L, Babayan Alex H, Beffert Uwe, Herz Joachim, Basbaum Allan I, Phelps Patricia E   Contribution of the Reelin signaling pathways to nociceptive processing European Journal of Neuroscience, 2008; 27: 523-37.
Kubasak, MD, Jindrich, DL, Zhong, H, Takeoka, A, McFarland, KC, Munoz-Quiles, C, Roy, RR, Edgerton, VR, Ramon-Cueto, A, Phelps, PE   OEG implantation and step training enhance hindlimb-stepping ability in adult spinal transected rats Brain, 2008; 131: 264-76.
Runyan SA, Roy RR, Zhong H, Phelps PE   L1 cell adhesion molecule is not required for small-diameter primary afferent sprouting after deafferentation Neuroscience, 2007; 150: 959-69.
Villeda, SA, Akopians, AL, Babayan, AH, Basbaum, AI, and Phelps, PE   Absence of reelin results in altered nociception and aberrant neuronal positioning in the dorsal spinal cord, Neuroscience, 2006; 139: 1385-1396.
Tran T.S, Cohen-Cory S., Phelps P.E.   Embryonic GABAergic spinal commissural neurons project rostrally to mesencephalic targets The Journal of Comparative Neurology, 2004; 475: 327-39.
Tran, TS, Cohen-Cory, S and Phelps, PE   Embryonic GABAergic spinal commissural neurons project rostrally to mesencepahlic targets Journal of Comparative Neurology, 2004; 475: 327-339.
Kubasak, MD Brooks, R Chen, S Villeda, SA Phelps, PE   Developmental distribution of reelin-positive cells and their secreted product in the rodent spinal cord Journal of Comparative Neurology, 2004; 468: 165-78.
Akopians, A Runyan, SA Phelps, PE   Expression of L1 decreases during postnatal development of rat spinal cord Journal of Comparative Neurology, 2003; 467: 375-88.
Tran, TS Alijani, A Phelps, PE   Unique developmental patterns of GABAergic neurons in rat spinal cord Journal Comparative Neurology , 2003; 456(2): 112-26.
Phelps, PE, Rich, R, Dupuy-Davies, S, Rios, Y, and Wong, T   Evidence for a cell-specific action of Reelin in the spinal cord Developmental Biology, 2002; 244: 180-198.
Orlino, EN Wong, CM Phelps, PE   L1 and GAD65 are expressed on dorsal commissural axons in embryonic rat spinal cord Developmental Brain Research, 2000; 125(1-2): 117-30.
Foster, JA Phelps, PE   Neurons expressing NADPH-diaphorase in the developing human spinal cord Journal Comparative Neurology , 2000; 427(3): 417-27.
Phelps, PE Alijani, A Tran, TS   Ventrally located commissural neurons express the GABAergic phenotype in developing rat spinal cord Journal Comparative Neurology, 1999; 409(2): 285-98.
Phelps, PE Barber, RP Vaughn, JE   Nonradial migration of interneurons can be experimentally altered in spinal cord slice cultures Development (Cambridge, England) , 1996; 122(7): 2013-22.

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