Science for Health
Stem cells in the brain generate an amazingly diverse array of neurons and glial cells during embryonic development, and they continue to produce neurons in a few discrete brain locations during adulthood. We study the genetic programmes that control the differentiation of these neural stem cells into diverse types of neurons, focusing on the generation of neurons of the telencephalon, which are lost in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Huntington’s disease.
We use a combination of genomic techniques, such as transcript profiling, high throughput sequencing and bioinformatics, to decipher the gene regulatory networks that control the differentiation of neural stem cells into neurons and glia. We then use functional assays and imaging techniques to identify the genetic pathways that control defined steps in neurogenesis, including the proliferation of progenitor cells and the migration of new neurons, and to determine how these pathways differ for the generation of different types of neurons. By gaining insight into mechanisms driving the differentiation of stem cells into specific types of neurons, we hope to help devise strategies to replace lost cells in diseased brains.
Migrating neurons in the cerebral cortex of a mouse embryo, labelled by in utero electroporation of Green Fluorescent Protein.
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Gene regulatory network for dorsal and ventral telencephalon development, based on transcript profiling datasets, evolutionary conserved transcription factor binding sites data and prior literature- based knowledge.
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