Science for Health
The mammalian midbrain and hypothalamus contain many types of neurons that regulate voluntary movement and energy homeostasis respectively. How the multitude of cell types in these brain regions is generated and their identity specified remains a central question in Developmental Neurobiology. We study how neural progenitors in the brain give rise to midbrain dopaminergic (mDA) neurons and hypothalamic neurons that regulate food intake. Our findings has direct medical relevance, since loss of mDA neurons is correlated with Parkinson’s Disease, and dysfunction of feeding circuits in the brain can lead to obesity in humans.
We use mouse embryos and in vitro differentiation of mouse embryonic stem cells to identify genes that regulate the specification, differentiation and migration of mDA and arcuate pro-opiomelanocortin (POMC) and neuropeptide Y (NPY) neurons. A combination of embryological, genetic, molecular and genomic approaches, including genetic fate mapping studies, null and conditional mutant mice, ex vivo electroporation of mouse embryos, mouse embryo culture, biochemical and transcriptome analyses are employed. These studies will provide insights into how embryonic gene expression leads to mature neuronal phenotypes.
+44 (0) 20 8816 2426
© MRC National Institute for Medical Research
The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA