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Key Publications

Mukhtar T, Taylor V.

Mar 1, 2018

The cerebral cortex is composed of billions of morphologically and functionally distinct neurons. These neurons are produced and organized in a regimental fashion during development. The ability of neurons to encode and elicit complex cognitive and motor functions depends on their precise molecular processes, identity, and connectivity established during development. Elucidating the cellular and molecular mechanisms that regulate development of the neocortex has been a challenge for many years. The cerebral cortical neuronal subtypes are classified based on morphology, function, intrinsic synaptic properties, location, connectivity, and marker gene expression. Development of the neocortex requires an orchestration of a series of processes including the appropriate determination, migration and positioning of the neurons, acquisition of layer-specific transcriptional hallmarks, and formation of precise axonal projections and networks. Historically, fate mapping, genome-wide analysis, and transcriptome profiling have provided many opportunities for the characterization of neuronal subtypes. During the course of this review, we will address the regimental organization of the cerebral cortex, dissect the cellular subtypes that contribute to cortical complexity, and outline their molecular hallmarks to understand cellular diversity in the cerebral cortex with a focus on the excitatory neurons.


Engler A, Rolando C, Giachino C, Saotome I, Erni A, Brien C, Zhang R, Zimber-Strobl U, Radtke F, Artavanis-Tsakonas S, Louvi A and, Taylor V


Jan 23, 2018


Neurogenesis continues in the ventricular-subventricular zone (V-SVZ) of the adult forebrain from quiescent neural stem cells (NSCs). V-SVZ NSCs are a reservoir for new olfactory bulb (OB) neurons that migrate through the rostral migratory stream (RMS). To generate neurons, V-SVZ NSCs need to activate and enter the cell cycle. The mechanisms underlying NSC transition from quiescence to activity are poorly understood. We show that Notch2, but not Notch1, signaling conveys quiescence to V-SVZ NSCs by repressing cell-cycle-related genes and neurogenesis. Loss of Notch2 activates quiescent NSCs, which proliferate and generate new neurons of the OB lineage. Notch2 deficiency results in accelerated V-SVZ NSC exhaustion and an aging-like phenotype. Simultaneous loss of Notch1 and Notch2 resembled the total loss of Rbpj-mediated canonical Notch signaling; thus, Notch2 functions are not compensated in NSCs, and Notch2 is indispensable for the maintenance of NSC quiescence in the adult V-SVZ.






Key Findings


  • Notch2 transduces a central quiescence signal in adult V-SVZ NSCs

  • Loss of Notch2 leads to V-SVZ NSC activation and exhaustion

  • Notch1 and Notch2 have distinct roles in NSC maintenance

Boareto M, Iber D, and Taylor V.


Oct 1, 2017

Differential interactions between Notch and ID factors control neurogenesis by modulating Hes factor autoregulation






During embryonic and adult neurogenesis, neural stem cells (NSCs) generate the correct number and types of neurons in a temporospatial fashion. Control of NSC activity and fate is crucial for brain formation and homeostasis. Neurogenesis in the embryonic and adult brain differ considerably, but Notch signaling and inhibitor of DNA-binding (ID) factors are pivotal in both. Notch and ID factors regulate NSC maintenance; however, it has been difficult to evaluate how these pathways potentially interact. Here, we combined mathematical modeling with analysis of single-cell transcriptomic data to elucidate unforeseen interactions between the Notch and ID factor pathways. During brain development, Notch signaling dominates and directly regulates Id4 expression, preventing other ID factors from inducing NSC quiescence. Conversely, during adult neurogenesis, Notch signaling and Id2/3 regulate neurogenesis in a complementary manner and ID factors can induce NSC maintenance and quiescence in the absence of Notch. Our analyses unveil key molecular interactions underlying NSC maintenance and mechanistic differences between embryonic and adult neurogenesis. Similar Notch and ID factor interactions may be crucial in other stem cell systems.


Fedele S, Collo G, Behr K, Bischofberger J, Müller S, Kunath T, Christensen K, Gündner AL, Graf M, Jagasia R, Taylor V.

Jul 20, 2017

Expansion of human midbrain floor plate progenitors from induced pluripotent stem cells increases dopaminergic neuron differentiation potential






Human induced pluripotent stem cells (hiPSCs) are invaluable to study developmental processes and disease mechanisms particularly in the brain. hiPSCs can be differentiated into mature and functional dopaminergic (DA) neurons. Having robust protocols for the generation of differentiated DA neurons from pluripotent cells is a prerequisite for the use of hiPSCs to study disease mechanisms, for drug discovery, and eventually for cell replacement therapy. Here, we describe a protocol for generating and expanding large numbers of homogeneous midbrain floor plate progenitors (mFPPs) that retain efficient DA neurogenic potential over multiple passages and can be cryobanked. We demonstrate that expanded mFPPs have increased DA neuron potential and differentiate more efficiently and rapidly than progenitors generated by standard protocols. In addition, this novel method results in increased numbers of DA neurons that in vitro show characteristic electrophysiological properties of nigrostriatal DA neurons, produce high levels of dopamine, and integrate into host mice when grafted in vivo. Thus, we describe a robust method for producing human mesencephalic DA neurons from hiPSCs.



Key Findings


  • Human iPSC differentiation to mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons

  • Culture and expansion of dopaminergic progenitors