Discovering New Signaling Pathways that Regulate Neural Stem Cell Differentiation Into Glia
In the developing nervous system the Notch signaling pathway is known to be necessary and sufficient for astrogliogenesis, the process by which neural stem cells divide and mature into astrocytes. However, the mechanism of how Notch regulates this process has not yet been characterized. Our lab is examining whether Notch controls the expression of the genes NFIA and Sox9 which are known to regulate astogliogenesis. These candidate genes were selected because their DNA sequences contain characteristics that are indicative of Notch effectors. A low-cost, effective method of Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction was developed in order to study the relative abundance of gene expression in Notch-deficient mice. We found that in the developing central nervous system the disruption of Notch signaling correlates with a significant decrease in both NFIA and Sox9 gene expression. In order to insure that this trend is reflected at the protein level we are performing fluorescence microscopy utilizing anti-bodies targeting the NFIA protein. A Chromatin Immuno-Precipitation assay will also be used to determine if the Notch complex actually binds to the NFIA and Sox9 DNA sequences, this will establish whether Notch directly regulates these genes. The potential discovery of this novel signaling pathway will be an exciting advance in the understanding of how neural stem cell differentiation is regulated.
Faculty Mentor: Merritt Taylor, Biomedical Sciences
Page last modified July 14, 2009