Transcription factors are responsible for the development of organisms by regulating the activity of the genome. Understanding how transcription factors control the development of the mammalian brain is complicated by the sheer number of distinct transcription factors that operate in cells as well as the intricacy of the organization of the brain. The cerebellum is in the lower part of the brain, and it plays a role in brain functions such as motor control, language, and emotions. While the organization of the cerebellum is complicated, it consists of a fairly simple structural plan suggesting the possibility of actually deciphering how its morphology is specified by the genome.
This project examines how the pro-neural transcription factor neurogenin1 (Neurog1) controls the development of the cerebellum in mice. The project uses transgenic mice technologies to label or delete Neurog1 activity. Conventional and conditional gene deletion strategies will be used to study Neurog1 during pre- and postnatal development. Loss of Neurog1 function effects on cerebellar anatomy and motor behaviors controlled by this part of the brain will be determined. The development of a conditional gene knockout approach will permit behavioral studies unattainable in existing conventional knockout mice that die at birth. It will also generate a valuable mouse resource for distribution.
This project will advance our understanding of how genetic determination programs are linked to adult motor behaviors in mice. Neurogenins are highly conserved and broadly expressed in the nervous system and knowledge generated by this project will be of considerable value to the neuroscience community. The broader impacts of this project will be to provide fellowship support and research training to a postgraduate student in the Universitys Graduate Program in Neuroscience and internships for three local high school students.