José E. San Miguel-Ruiz

José San Miguel-Ruiz


Entering Class:


University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras
Biology major
B.S., 2007

University of Minnesota
Ph.D., Neuroscience Graduate Program, 2014

Honors and Awards:

  • NIH-MARC trainee, 2006-2007
  • NIH- John E. Fogarty International Center International Research Training Grant; Sydney, Australia, 2007
  • University of Puerto Rico Natural Sciences College Award for Creativity in Scientific Research, 2007

MSTP Student Governance:

  • Student Advisory Committee 2014-2016

Thesis Advisor: Paul Letourneau, Ph.D.

Thesis Research

Axonal pathfinding during development depends on molecular cues present in its extracellular environment to specify the correct path. Downstream signals from these cues regulate the cytoskeletal machinery within the growth cone. My project in Dr. Paul Letourneau's laboratory focuses on one of these cytoskeletal components in the growth cone: the actin nucleator Arp2/3. This seven-subunit protein complex nucleates new actin filaments on the side of pre-existing ones, resulting in a two-dimensional actin network, an actin dendritic array, under the plasma membrane. In neurons, polymerization of actin into filaments is essential for normal growth cone motility and guidance. In non-neuronal cells, the dendritic array pushes the cell's leading edge forward and is required for normal cell motility and chemotaxis. In neurons, however, Arp2/3 role has been poorly characterized. With my thesis project I seek to understand its role on axon growth and guidance.

Publications (pubmed)

San Miguel-Ruiz JE, Letourneau PC. The role of arp2/3 in growth cone actin dynamics and guidance is substrate dependent. J Neurosci. 2014 Apr;34(7):5895-908. PMCID: PMC3996216

Marsick BM, San Miguel-Ruiz JE, Letourneau PC. Activation of ezrin/radixin/moesin mediates attractive growth cone guidance through regulation of growth cone actin and adhesion receptors. J Neurosci. 2012 Jan 4;32(1):282-96. PMCID: PMC3306234

Publications Prior to Entering the MD/PhD Program:

San Miguel-Ruiz JE, García-Arrarás JE: Regeneration of the radial nerve cord in the sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima. BMC Dev Biol. 2009;9:3.

San Miguel-Ruiz JE, García-Arrarás JE: Common cellular events occur during wound healing and organ regeneration in the sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima. BMC Dev Biol. 2007;7:115.

Diaz-Balzac CA, Santacana-Laffitte G, San Miguel-Ruiz JE, Tossas K, Valentin-Tirado G, Rives-Sanchez M, Mesleh A, Torres II, García-Arrarás JE: Identification of nerve plexi in connective tissues of the sea cucumber Holothuria glaberrima by using a novel nerve-specific antibody. Biol Bull. 2007;213:28-42.