We investigate the role of gene expression mechanisms in nervous system development and function. Neurons have evolved numerous mechanisms to diversify and regulate their gene expression. Our laboratory studies regulation of neuronal gene expression at two levels: Transcriptional Regulation and Regulation of Alternative Splicing.

1. At the transcriptional level we are studying how the transcription factor Neurogenic Differentiation 2 (NeuroD2) is regulated. NeuroD2's transcriptional activity is induced upon influx of calcium into neurons. Calcium activated gene expression mechanisms are essential both during development and in the adult functions of the nervous system. Within this project, our objective is to understand the neuronal signaling pathways that regulate the transcriptional activity of NeuroD2.

2. Our laboratory is also interested in how alternative splicing contributes to the functional diversification of the neuronal proteome. Alternative splicing of gene transcripts is important in the nervous system, and defects in alternative splicing can lead to severe brain disorders. In this project we study a group of RNA-binding proteins called Hu/ELAV. which are required for neuron-specific alternative splicing. We continue to investigate the separable neuronal functions of the protein isoforms generated from a single gene by ELAV-regulated alternative splicing.