Vertebrate development is orchestrated by the coordinated deployment of multiple and diverse programs of cell commitment and differentiation. One of the fundamental questions in this process is how a discrete number of transcriptional programs and extracellular cues combine to produce the enormous cellular complexity that characterizes vertebrate organisms. This research aims at uncovering the general principles of how cellular diversity is created in the sensory nervous system.
We aim to determine: 1/ the transcriptional programs directing the commitment and differentiation of different types of sensory neurons and 2/ how, when and where different types of sensory neurons are committed by genetic tracing. The proposed research takes advantage of multidisciplinary approaches including model systems and methods such as rapid screening of gene function in the chick, a boundary cap neural stem cell culture system, and advanced mouse genetics for revealing gene function and for lineage tracing.
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