The 100 billion neurons that form our central nervous system (CNS) are born in precise numbers, and exquisitely localized, allowing us to perform everyday tasks such as walking, reading or thinking. Neurons are born and find their positions within the CNS almost exclusively during embryonic development. Intrinsic and extrinsic cues regulate the competence of neural progenitor cells to produce the wide variety of neural fates observed in the CNS. Similarly, a myriad of guidance cues pilot neurons from the proliferation niches to their final destination, where they stop, mature, and integrate into the existing network. In humans, defects in any of these processes may disrupt cognition, neural circuitry, and/or brain morphology, leading to neuropsychiatric disease (e.g., schizophrenia, intellectual disability, autism spectrum disorders), epilepsy, and neuroanatomical malformations (e.g., lissencephaly).
The goal of our lab is to uncover novel molecular mechanisms involved in cell-fate determination, nervous system development, and homeostasis in the adult brain. In particular we are interested in:
- The role of ARL4C signaling in nervous system development and its regulation by the E3 ubiquitin ligase CRL5.
- CRL5-dependent regulation of lipid metabolism during newborn neuron migration and brain morphogenesis.
- Coordination between non-coding RNAs, neural progenitor competence, and cell-fate determination of newborn neurons.