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updated 12/30/98



Phyllis C. Pugh


United States


email: pcp@oocities.com
URL: http://www.oocities.com/~pcp
ICQ: 2027941


California Institute of Technology
Pasadena, CA
B.S. 1988
(with Honors)
1989—1994 Department of Biology Ph.D. 1995 Biology
  University of California, San Diego
La Jolla, CA
Dr. Darwin K. Berg
1995—1998 Department of Neurobiology
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
Pittsburgh, PA
Postdoctoral Fellow
Research Associate
1998—present Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology
Medical College of Ohio
Toledo, OH
Research Associate
Postdoctoral Research Advisors:
Dr. John P. Horn (1995—1996)
Dr. Eric Frank (1997—1998)
Dr. Joseph Margiotta (1998—)


1986—present Sigma Xi    
1993—present Society for Neuroscience    
1995—present American Association of University Women  


1986 Election to Sigma Xi, Associate Membership; advanced to full membership in 1995  
1986—1988 B. Green Scholarship    
1987—1988 ARCS (Achievement Rewards for Collegiate Scientists) Foundation Scholar
1989—1994 PHS Predoctoral Trainee in Cellular and Molecular Biology andin Systems and Integrative Neurobiology
1995 PHS Postdoctoral Trainee in Behavioral Neuroscience


Refereed Papers:
  1. Cho, K.-O., J. B. Wall, P. C. Pugh, M. Ito, S. A. Mueller, and M. B. Kennedy. 1991. The a subunit of type II Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase is highly conserved in Drosophila. Neuron 7:439—50.
  2. Vijayaraghavan, S., P. C. Pugh, Z.-w. Zhang, M. M. Rathouz, and D. K. Berg. 1992. Nicotinic receptors that bind a-bungarotoxin on neurons raise intracellular free Ca2+. Neuron 8:353—62.
  3. Pugh, P. C., and D. K. Berg. 1994. Neuronal acetylcholine receptors that bind a-bungarotoxin mediate neurite retraction in a calcium-dependent manner. The Journal of Neuroscience 14:889—96.
  4. Pugh, P. C., R. A. Corriveau, W. G. Conroy, and D. K. Berg. 1995. A novel subpopulation of neuronal acetylcholine receptors among those binding a-bungarotoxin. Molecular Pharmacology 47:717—25.
  5. Romano, S. J., P. C. Pugh, J. M. McIntosh, and D. K. Berg. 1997. Regulation of neuronal-type acetylcholine receptors containing the a7 gene product in vertebrate skeletal muscle. Journal of Neurobiology 32:69—80.
  6. Pugh, P.C., P. Jobling, W.-X. Shen, and J. P. Horn Nicotinic modulation of peptidergic transmission in sympathetic ganglia. manuscript in preparation.
  7. Pugh, P.C., and E Frank Nicotinic acetylcholine receptors which bind aBungarotoxin and survival of chick spinal motorneurons. manuscript in preparation.
Conference Papers:      
  1. Berg, D. K., Z.-w. Zhang, W. G. Conroy, P. C. Pugh, R. A. Corriveau, S. J. Romano, B. Huang, and S. Vijayaraghavan. 1995. Expression, function and regulation of neuronal acetylcholine receptors containing the a7 gene product. In The effects of nicotine on biological systems II, ed. by P. Clarke, M. Quik, K. Thurau, and F. Adlkofer, (Basel: Birkhäuser), pp. 61—71.
  2. Berg, D. K., W. G. Conroy, R. A. Corriveau, P. C. Pugh, M. M. Rathouz, S. J. Romano, S. Vijayaraghavan, and Z.-w. Zhang. Properties of a7-containing acetylcholine receptors and their expression in both neurons and muscle. In Proceedings of the 5th International Neuromuscular Meeting, ed. K. Fukushima. (in press).
  1. Leonard, D. S., J. B. Wall, P. C. Pugh, and M. B. Kennedy. 1987. Type II Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase in Drosophila. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 13:154.9.
  2. Vijayaraghavan, S., M. M. Rathouz, P. C. Pugh, and D. K. Berg. 1991. Nicotinic receptors that bind a-bungarotoxin on neurons raise intracellular free Ca2+. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 17:14.10.
  3. Berg, D. K., S. Vijayaraghavan, W. G. Conroy, A. B. Vernallis, R. A. Corriveau, P. C. Pugh, and Z.-W. Zhang. 1992. Native acetylcholine receptors in neurons: Composition, function, and regulation by cell-cell interactions. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry , Supplement 0 16E:218.
  4. Pugh, P. C., and D. K. Berg. 1993. Neuronal ACh receptors that bind a-Bgt mediate neurite retraction in a calcium-dependent manner. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 19:195.4.
  5. Pugh, P. C., R. A. Corriveau, and D. K. Berg. 1994. A subpopulation of neuronal ACh receptors among those binding a-bungarotoxin. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 20:466.10.
  6. Berg, D. K., W. G. Conroy, P. C. Pugh, M. M. Rathouz, S. J. Romano, S. Vijayaraghavan, and Z.-W. Zhang. 1995. Co-expression of multiple acetylcholine receptors defined by distinctive subunit composition in neurons and a comparison of functional properties. Journal of Cellular Biochemistry , Supplement 0 19B:170.
  7. Berg, D. K., W. G. Conroy, P. C. Pugh, M. M. Rathouz, S. J. Romano, S. Vijayaraghavan, and Z.-W. Zhang. 1995. Neurons co-express multiple heteromeric nicotinic acetylcholine receptors with distinctive subunit compositions: Implications for function. Journal of Neurochemistry 64 (Suppl. 1):S28.
  8. Pugh, P. C., and E. Frank. 1997. a-Bungarotoxin-binding nicotinic acetylcholine receptors on chick spinal motoneurons. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 23:461.2.
  9. Horn, J. P., P. C. Pugh, W.-X. Shen, and P. Jobling. 1997. Sub-micromolar nicotine modulates peptidergic transmission in sympathetic ganglia. International Society for Autonomic Neuroscience Abstracts (in press).


1994 Department of Neurobiology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine
1996 Department of Pharmacology, Marshall University School of Medicine
California Institute of Technology – 1988
Instructor for Summer Secondary School Science Program in Biology (Honors)
University of California, San Diego – 1989—1994
Teaching Assistant for:
  • Neurobiology and Behavior
  • Ecology Lab
  • Cellular Neurobiology
  • Mammalian Physiology
San Diego State University – 1994
Mentor in Genetics for Howard Hughes Medical Institute Minority Scientists Program
The University School (Pittsburgh, PA) – 1996
Instructor in Biology (high school, summer school)
Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA) – 1998
Guest lecturer in Research Methods and Journal Club in the Occupational Therapy Department.
Medical College of Ohio (Toledo, OH) – 1998
Guest lecturer in Principles of Neuroscience graduate course in the Department of Anatomy and Neurobiology.

My primary interest is the development of the nervous system, especially the identification of molecular markers and correlates of cell-fate determination, axonal pathfinding, and synapse formation and regulation. To this end, I have studied the expression, regulation, and function of synaptic components. As an undergraduate, I purified and characterized type II Ca2+/calmodulin-dependent protein kinase from Drosophila melanogaster as groundwork for exploiting the ease of genetic manipulation in Drosophila to study further the regulatory properties of the kinase. During my graduate career, key studies included the pharmacological and functional characterization of nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (nAChRs) that bind the snake neurotoxin, a-bungarotoxin (aBgt), on neurons. The predominantly extra-synaptic nature of such receptors (aBgt-AChRs) has led to the question of whether these nAChRs might be involved in the development and modulation of synapses rather than directly gating synaptic transmission. These experiments demonstrated that aBgt-AChRs could be pharmacologically distinguished from other neuronal nAChRs using several ligands. Using these specific ligands as tools, I showed that aBgt-AChRs were capable of influencing neurite outgrowth in the chick ciliary ganglion (CG): activation of aBgt-AChRs produced the retraction of regenerating neurites dependent on the influx of Ca2+ and the activation of voltage-dependent Ca2+ channels. The application of monoclonal antibodies made against nAChR subunits to probe the composition of aBgt-AChRs in the CG revealed a second class of components capable of binding aBgt that contain none of the known nAChR gene products.

Work I have done in the bullfrog autonomic nervous system suggests that nAChRs are capable of playing a modulatory role in synaptic transmission. Further, I examined the nAChRs in the chick spinal cord, where I had previously shown the presence of aBgt-AChRs containing the a7 gene product. Blockade of nAChR function during chick embryonic development rescues a population of motorneurons from death. Previous studies had suggested that this rescue was the result of the cessation of muscular activity; however, more recent results suggest that motorneurons might be saved even without paralysis. I studied the role that the nAChRs on the motor neurons might play in this phenomenon as well as what role they might play in the initial outgrowth of the motor neurons to their target muscles. Using the more specific drugs which I had characterized during my graduate work, I confirmed that the blockade of muscle receptors was both necessary and sufficient for the promotion of motorneuronal survival. Blockade of the receptors on the neurons themselves was capable of rescuing some of the motorneurons but not the whole population.

Currently, I am investigating the properties of nicotinic receptors that are not at synapses. One question here is what are receptors doing in places where they supposedly will not see agonists. To investigate this, I am developing a new tissue culture system of non-neuronal cells that naturally express the receptors. Using calcium-activated fluorescence, I am investigating whether these receptors can be activated by exposure to nicotine. Further, with Joseph Margiotta, I am investigating some of the mechanisms of receptor clustering on neurons.


California Institute of Technology
1987—88 Faculty Committee on Institute Programs (student representative)


American Contract Bridge League
Caltech Alumni Association
HTML Writers Guild
Sierra Club
1981—84 Group Facilitator, Diocese of Ohio, Youth Ministries
1986—87 Member, Executive Committee, Organization for Women at Caltech, Caltech
1993—93 Member, Alumni Seminar Day Planning Committee, Caltech Alumni Association
1993—94 Volunteer Tutor, UPLIFT, Kids At Heart Program
1995—98 Volunteer, Pitt Volunteer Pool
1995—98 Volunteer, Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force
1996— Community Leader, GeoCities Virtual Community Program
  • Leader Liaison, CapeCanaveral Neighborhood,1997—
  • Coordinator, CapeCanaveral Meets ..., 1998
  • Dean and Mentor, Community Leader Training Program, 1998—

Copyright 1997,1998 Phyllis C. Pugh

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