Research Group Cortical Development (Prof. Dr. Victor Tarabykin)
The research group of Prof. Dr. Tarabykin investigates in the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying cell fate specification in the mouse cerebral cortex.
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During development, several populations of progenitor cells residing in the ventricular and subventricular zones in the dorsal telencephalon generate a large variety of neurons. These neurons acquire distinct morphologies, specific connections and physiological properties and serve distinct functions in the mammalian cerebral cortex.
Molecular control of cell fate of cortical progenitors
The research group of Prof. Dr. Tarabykin focusses on the mechanisms controlling the generation, migration and axonal guidance of neurons of different cortical layers and areas. The scientific methods combine a variety of genetic, molecular and cell biological approaches, together with biochemistry and screening approaches. The aim is to identify and characterize genes, gene regulation mechanisms, transcriptional and translational events as well as posttranslational modifications that control cortical development.
Transcription factor analysis
One important subject of our research is the analysis of transcription factors and how they influence the cyto-architecture of the brain. By creating loss of function models in mice, we can study the impact of one or more transcription factors during cortical development. Using this tool, the research group identified a transcription factor, named Satb2, which controls postmitotic specification of neurons in superficial layers of the neocortex. Satb2 regulates the expression of genes responsible for proper connectivity of cortico-cortical neurons. When Satb2 is inactivated these neurons start expressing the genetic programs of deep layer neurons. As a result these neurons project to subcortical targets.
Another fundamental tool in our research is to change the expression of specific genes in a small number of neurons within a healthy cortex. Analyzing which fate, characteristics or connections those cells have, helps to unravel the impact of the corresponding gene. The so called "In utero electroporation" is superior to many other approaches as it allows to reconstruct neuronal morphologies in vivo, study neuronal connectivity and analyse the dendritic tree.