Filippo M. Rijli

Transcriptional mechanisms of topographic circuit formation

Neuronal circuits are characterized by topographic maps of axonal connections in which the positional coordinates of input neurons are precisely "copied" onto spatially ordered sets of target neurons. However, little is known about the transcriptional regulation of such precise wiring of the brain. As an entry point to understanding the molecular mechanisms of topographic map formation, we focus on the development of the whisker-to-barrel and cortico-ponto-cerebellar circuitry in the mammalian brain.

Current work addresses the epigenetic regulation of the coordinated expression of a family of homeodomain (HD) transcription factors in vivo, during late aspects of neuronal circuit formation in the mouse.

We also address the functional role of these HD transcription factors in topographic map formation by means of genetic tools, imaging of fluorescently labeled neurons and axonal tracts, in utero electroporation, molecular phenotype analysis and gene expression profiling.

These studies may further our understanding of the basic molecular mechanisms that establish precise connections between neurons in the developing central nervous system, and thus be the groundwork for treatments that restore connections following injury or neurodegenerative diseases.

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Filippo M. Rijli
Gabi Gruber
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