Molecular and Cellular Mechanisms of Brain development
[ P.Vanderhaeghen ]
The cerebral cortex is one of the most complex and important structures in our brain. The mechanisms of formation of the cortex have direct relevance to several diseases, such as epilepsy and mental disorders, as well as for the development of rationally designed cell therapies for neurological conditions.
Our major goal is to understand better the genetic mechanisms controlling the development of the cerebral cortex, from stem cells to neuronal networks.
Our main experimental model is the mouse, where we combine molecular and cellular approaches to study cortical development, both in vivo (using tools such as mouse transgenesis and in utero electroporation) and in vitro (using tools such as organotypic assays).
In other projects centered on human cortex development we try to identify genes that underly the development and evolution of human-specific features in our brain.
Finally, using mouse and human embryonic stem (ES) cells, we are developing methods to produce specific types of cortical neurons, and to generate in vitro models of human neuronal diseases.
Main recent publications
Dufour A, Seibt J, Passante L, Depaepe V, Ciossek T, Frisen J, Kullander K, Flanagan J, Polleux F, and Vanderhaeghen P .
Area-Specificity and Topography of Thalamocortical Projections Controlled by Ephrin/Eph genes.
Neuron 39: 453-465 (2003) .
Seibt J, Schuurmans C, Gradwhol G, Dehay C, Vanderhaeghen P , Guillemot F, and Polleux F.
Neurogenin2 specifies the connectivity of thalamic neurons by controlling axon responsiveness to intermediate target cues.
Neuron 39: 439-452 (2003).
Depaepe V, Suarez N, Passante L, Dufour A, Gorski J, Jones K, Ledent C, and Vanderhaeghen P.
Ephrin signalling controls brain size by regulating apoptosis of neural progenitors.
Nature 435: 1244-1250 (2005)
Lambot MA, Depasse F, Noel JC, and Vanderhaeghen P.
Mapping labels in the developing human visual system and the evolution of binocular vision.
J. Neurosci. 25: 7232-7237 (2005).
Egea J, Vig Nissen U, Dufour A, Sahin M, Greer P, Kullander K, Mrsic-Flogel T, Greenberg ME, Kiehn O, Vanderhaeghen P, Klein R.
Regulation of EphA4 Kinase Activity Is Required for a Subset of Axon Guidance Decisions Suggesting a Key Role for Receptor Clustering in Eph Function.
Neuron 47: 515-528 (2005).
Dufour A, Egea J, Kullander K, Klein R, and Vanderhaeghen P.
Genetic Analysis of EphA-Dependent Signalling Mechanisms Controlling Topographic Mapping in Vivo.
Development 133(22):4415-20 (2006).
Pollard K, Salama S, Lambert N, Lambot M-A, Coppens S, Pedersen J, Katzman S, King B, Onodera C, Siepel A, Kern A, Vanderhaeghen P, and Haussler D.
The Fastest Evolving Region in the Human Genome is an RNA Gene Expressed During Early Neocortical Development.
Nature 443: 167-172 (2006).