NGP investigators are actively investigating the control of gene expression in the nervous system. This work increasingly uses modern bioinformatic and gene sequencing strategies. For example, methods have been developed by NGP faculty members to examine target sites of transcription factors such as CREB. The cAMP-regulated enhancer, the target sequence that binds CREB, was first identified in the Goodman lab at the Vollum Institute and serves as a master controller of many aspects of activity-dependent gene transcription. The role of microRNAs is another current focus in the Goodman lab. The Mandel lab identified the DNA-binding protein REST that serves to repress the expression of neuronal genes (such as TTX-sensitive sodium channels) in non-neuronal cells, and is currently examining another gene regulator, MeCP2 (methyl CpG binding protein 2), mutations of which cause Rett syndrome. Their work suggests an unexpected role for MeCP2 signaling in glial cells. A new faculty member in the NGP, Soo-Kyung Lee, is examining the gene regulatory networks that determine specific neuronal subtypes including motoneurons in the spinal cord.
For more details on their work, click on the links below: