Molecular control of neurogenesis
We study the molecular mechanisms that control determination and proliferation of neural stem cells, their differentiation into functional neurons and their deregulation in brain cancer.
In the process of brain development over 1000 different types of neurons are generated from an initially homogeneous stem cell population. At which level is this diversity encoded? How is the proliferation of stem cells controlled to generate the correct number of neurons? What happens when proliferation control goes wrong and brain cancer develops? How do neurons integrate into the circuitry and what is their specific function?
We use the ongoing neurogenesis that occurs in the postnatal mammalian brain to address these questions and identify the signals and molecular cascades that control specific steps in neuron production. A particular focus of our work is set on the role of RNAs that do not encode proteins, but have regulatory functions to provide the stability and flexibility that is needed to generate and maintain a functional brain.
A recent study conducted by Jean-Claude Platel in Harold Cremer’s team published in eLife showed that these newly generated neurons add up permanently in the olfactory bulb neural network leading to an increase in the neuronal population and the size of the olfactory bulb.