The nervous system contains vast numbers of cells and great diversity in cell types; in humans it is estimated that the nervous system comprises 1011 neurons belonging to 10,000 different sub-types. Neurons differ from each other in many ways, including in their morphology, as well as in the type of neurotransmitters, receptors and ion channels they express. Each neuronal sub-type furthermore needs to be generated at the correct place, correct time, and in correct numbers. The combined effect of great numbers, great diversity and great fidelity constitutes the very basis for the enormously complex functions of the nervous system, such as homeostasis, learning/memory and behavior. Therefore, understanding neuronal sub-type specification continues to be one of the fundamental challenges in neurobiology.
My lab is taking a comprehensive molecular and genetic approach aimed at understanding lineage progression and neuronal sub-type specification, by using a specific Drosophila central nervous system (CNS) progenitor cell, the neuroblast 5-6, as a model. By utilizing this powerful model lineage, we are addressing several unresolved issues in developmental neurobiology: How are positional cues integrated to dictate unique neural progenitor identity? How are temporal competence changes controlled in each progenitor? How are positional and temporal cues integrated to activate cell fate determinants? How do cell fate determinants govern unique neuronal cell fates? How is cell cycle controlled at various stages of neural lineage progression to result in proper overall lineage size, and to ensure the generation of correct cell numbers of each sub-type? The importance of resolving these fundamental issues is all the more apparent in light of the heightened interest in stem cell biology.
Name: Stefan Thor
Title: Professor of Developmental Biology
Phone: +46 (0)10 103 57 75
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine
Lab 1, level 13
SE-581 85 Linköping
Last updated: 2013-04-09