Our goal is to unravel the cellular and molecular mechanisms of neural stem cell biology. Neural stem cells are self-renewing multipotent progenitors, which can be used to replace neurons in degenerated or diseased nervous systems. However, many questions must be answered before neuronal replacement therapies using endogenous precursors become a reality. In particular, it is still unknown how the stem cell integrates the multiple signals from the environment that are responsible for its division, differentiation and survival.
The central nervous system (CNS) of vertebrates is a complex arrangement of neurons and glial cells that underlie brain physiology and animal behavior. These cells are set-up in defined numbers at specific locations from neural progenitors or Neural Stem Cells (NSCs), largely during early stages of life. In addition, the maintenance of NSCs in the brain until adulthood is a general phenomenon, likely crucial to late adaptation events. Indeed, defects in adult neurogenesis have been correlated with neurodegenerative and mood-related disorders, and also occur during ageing.
Our group is interested in the molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying brain morphogenesis in vertebrates, and in understanding how these mechanisms are perturbed in human diseases.
To investigate these processes, we take advantage of two complementary model organisms, the mouse and the zebrafish. We have three main research axes.
1) We study the gene regulatory hierarchies involved in the early subdivision of the neural plate, the future central nervous system, during gastrulation.