N J Buckley

University of Oxford, Oxford, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (98)648.12 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: The proneural transcription factor Ascl1 coordinates gene expression in both proliferating and differentiating progenitors along the neuronal lineage. Here, we used a cellular model of neurogenesis to investigate how Ascl1 interacts with the chromatin landscape to regulate gene expression when promoting neuronal differentiation. We find that Ascl1 binding occurs mostly at distal enhancers and is associated with activation of gene transcription. Surprisingly, the accessibility of Ascl1 to its binding sites in neural stem/progenitor cells remains largely unchanged throughout their differentiation, as Ascl1 targets regions of both readily accessible and closed chromatin in proliferating cells. Moreover, binding of Ascl1 often precedes an increase in chromatin accessibility and the appearance of new regions of open chromatin, associated with de novo gene expression during differentiation. Our results reveal a function of Ascl1 in promoting chromatin accessibility during neurogenesis, linking the chromatin landscape at Ascl1 target regions with the temporal progression of its transcriptional program. Copyright © 2015 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
    Cell Reports 03/2015; 10(9):1-13. DOI:10.1016/j.celrep.2015.02.025 · 7.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Adult neural stem cell (aNSC) activity is tuned by external stimuli through the recruitment of transcription factors. This study examines the RE1 silencing transcription factor (REST) in neural stem/progenitor cells isolated from the subventricular zone of adult mouse brain and provides the first extensive characterization of REST-mediated control of the cellular and molecular properties. This study shows that REST knockdown affects the capacity of progenitor cells to generate neurospheres, reduces cell proliferation, and triggers cell differentiation despite the presence of growth factors. Genome- and transcriptome-wide analyses show that REST binding sites are significantly enriched in genes associated with synaptic transmission and nervous system development and function. Seeking candidate regulators of aNSC function, this study identifies a member of the bone morphogenetic protein (BMP) family, BMP6, the mRNA and protein of which increased after REST knockdown. The results of this study extend previous findings, demonstrating a reciprocal control of REST expression by BMPs. Administration of exogenous BMP6 inhibits aNSC proliferation and induces the expression of the astrocytic marker glial fibrillary acidic protein, highlighting its antimitogenic and prodifferentiative effects. This study suggests that BMP6 produced in a REST-regulated manner together with other signals can contribute to regulation of NSC maintenance and fate. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Journal of Neuroscience Research 02/2015; 93(8). DOI:10.1002/jnr.23572 · 2.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: A cardinal property of neural stem cells (NSCs) is their ability to adopt multiple fates upon differentiation. The epigenome is widely seen as a read-out of cellular potential and a manifestation of this can be seen in embryonic stem cells (ESCs), where promoters of many lineage-specific regulators are marked by a bivalent epigenetic signature comprising trimethylation of both lysine 4 and lysine 27 of histone H3 (H3K4me3 and H3K27me3, respectively). Bivalency has subsequently emerged as a powerful epigenetic indicator of stem cell potential. Here, we have interrogated the epigenome during differentiation of ESC-derived NSCs to immature GABAergic interneurons. We show that developmental transitions are accompanied by loss of bivalency at many promoters in line with their increasing developmental restriction from pluripotent ESC through multipotent NSC to committed GABAergic interneuron. At the NSC stage, the promoters of genes encoding many transcriptional regulators required for differentiation of multiple neuronal subtypes and neural crest appear to be bivalent, consistent with the broad developmental potential of NSCs. Upon differentiation to GABAergic neurons, all non-GABAergic promoters resolve to H3K27me3 monovalency, whereas GABAergic promoters resolve to H3K4me3 monovalency or retain bivalency. Importantly, many of these epigenetic changes occur prior to any corresponding changes in gene expression. Intriguingly, another group of gene promoters gain bivalency as NSCs differentiate toward neurons, the majority of which are associated with functions connected with maturation and establishment and maintenance of connectivity. These data show that bivalency provides a dynamic epigenetic signature of developmental potential in both NSCs and in early neurons.
    Stem Cells 09/2013; 31(9). DOI:10.1002/stem.1431 · 7.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Transcriptional dysregulation is a hallmark of Huntington's disease (HD) and one cause of this dysregulation is enhanced activity of the REST-mSIN3a-mSIN3b-CoREST-HDAC repressor complex, which silences transcription through REST binding to the RE1/NRSE silencer. Normally, huntingtin (HTT) prevents this binding, allowing expressing of REST target genes. Here, we aimed to identify HTT mimetics that disrupt REST complex formation in HD. From a structure-based virtual screening of 7 million molecules, we selected 94 compounds predicted to interfere with REST complex formation by targeting the PAH1 domain of mSIN3b. Primary screening using DiaNRSELuc8 cells revealed two classes of compounds causing a greater than 2.0-fold increase in luciferase. In particular, quinolone-like compound 91 (C91) at a non-toxic nanomolar concentration reduced mSIN3b nuclear entry and occupancy at the RE1/NRSE within the Bdnf locus, and restored BDNF protein levels in HD cells. The mRNA levels of other RE1/NRSE-regulated genes were similarly increased while non-REST-regulated genes were unaffected. C91 stimulated REST-regulated gene expression in HTT-knockdown Zebrafish and increased BDNF mRNA in the presence of mutant HTT. Thus, a combination of virtual screening and biological approaches can lead to compounds reducing REST complex formation, which may be useful in HD and in other pathological conditions. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 06/2013; 127(1). DOI:10.1111/jnc.12348 · 4.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Histone deacetylase inhibitors (HDACi) interfere with the epigenetic process of histone acetylation and are known to have analgesic properties in models of chronic inflammatory pain [1-3]. This study set out to determine whether these compounds could also impact neuropathic pain. Different class I HDACi were delivered intrathecally to rat spinal cord in models of traumatic nerve injury and antiretroviral drug induced peripheral neuropathy (stavudine, d4T). Mechanical and thermal hypersensitivity was attenuated by 40-50% as a result of HDACi treatment, but only if commenced prior to any insult. The drugs globally increased histone acetylation in the spinal cord, but appeared to have no measurable effects in relevant dorsal root ganglia (DRG) in this treatment paradigm, suggesting that any potential mechanism should be sought in the central nervous system. Microarray analysis of dorsal cord RNA revealed the signature of the specific compound used (MS-275) and suggested that its main effect was mediated through HDAC1. Taken together, these data support a role for histone acetylation in the emergence and/or maintenance of neuropathic pain.
    Pain 05/2013; 154(9). DOI:10.1016/j.pain.2013.05.021 · 5.84 Impact Factor
  • International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience 12/2012; 30(8):626. DOI:10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2012.10.065 · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Current therapeutic strategies for Huntington's disease (HD) are focused on symptom management of disease progression. Transcriptional dysregulation is one of the major characteristics in HD. REST is a transcriptional repressor that silences gene expression through binding to RE1/NRSE sites found in the regulatory regions of numerous neuronal genes. Dysregulation of REST and its targeted genes has been reported in different cell and mouse HD models, as well as in biopsies from human patients. In this work, we characterized transcriptional dysregulation associated with REST in two different HD mouse models and assessed the therapeutic effect of interfering with REST function by overexpressing a dominant-negative form (DN:REST). We show that delivery of DN:REST in the motor cortex restores brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) mRNA and protein levels by reducing endogenous REST occupancy at the Bdnf locus. Similarly, expression of other REST-regulated genes such as Synapsin I (Syn1), Proenkephalin (Penk1) and Cholinergic receptor muscarinic 4 (Chrm4) were restored to normal levels while non-REST-regulated genes were unaffected. This is the first study conducted to investigate REST's role in vivo in a neurodegenerative disease. Our data show that DN:REST in motor cortex reversed RESTs repressive effects on target genes. However, the lack of therapeutic effect on motor function suggests that a more widespread rescue of REST-regulated sites in the affected brain regions may be necessary.Gene Therapy advance online publication, 15 November 2012; doi:10.1038/gt.2012.84.
    Gene therapy 11/2012; DOI:10.1038/gt.2012.84 · 4.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Huntingtin (Htt) protein interacts with many transcriptional regulators, with widespread disruption to the transcriptome in Huntington's disease (HD) brought about by altered interactions with the mutant Htt (muHtt) protein. Repressor Element-1 Silencing Transcription Factor (REST) is a repressor whose association with Htt in the cytoplasm is disrupted in HD, leading to increased nuclear REST and concomitant repression of several neuronal-specific genes, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor (Bdnf). Here, we explored a wide set of HD dysregulated genes to identify direct REST targets whose expression is altered in a cellular model of HD but that can be rescued by knock-down of REST activity. We found many direct REST target genes encoding proteins important for nervous system development, including a cohort involved in synaptic transmission, at least two of which can be rescued at the protein level by REST knock-down. We also identified several microRNAs (miRNAs) whose aberrant repression is directly mediated by REST, including miR-137, which has not previously been shown to be a direct REST target in mouse. These data provide evidence of the contribution of inappropriate REST-mediated transcriptional repression to the widespread changes in coding and non-coding gene expression in a cellular model of HD that may affect normal neuronal function and survival. © 2012 International Society for Neurochemistry, J. Neurochem. (2012) 10.1111/jnc.12090.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 11/2012; 124(3). DOI:10.1111/jnc.12090 · 4.24 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neurodegenerative diseases constitute one of the single most important public health challenges of the coming decades, and yet we presently have only a limited understanding of the underlying genetic, cellular and molecular causes. As a result, no effective disease-modifying therapies are currently available, and no method exists to allow detection at early disease stages, and as a result diagnoses are only made decades after disease pathogenesis, by which time the majority of physical damage has already occurred. Since the sequencing of the human genome, we have come to appreciate that the transcriptional output of the human genome is extremely rich in non-protein coding RNAs (ncRNAs). This heterogeneous class of transcripts is widely expressed in the nervous system, and is likely to play many crucial roles in the development and functioning of this organ. Most exciting, evidence has recently been presented that ncRNAs play central, but hitherto unappreciated roles in neurodegenerative processes. Here, we review the diverse available evidence demonstrating involvement of ncRNAs in neurodegenerative diseases, and discuss their possible implications in the development of therapies and biomarkers for these conditions.
    Progress in Neurobiology 10/2012; DOI:10.1016/j.pneurobio.2012.09.006 · 10.30 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neural differentiation of embryonic stem cells (ESCs) requires coordinated repression of the pluripotency regulatory program and reciprocal activation of the neurogenic regulatory program. Upon neural induction, ESCs rapidly repress expression of pluripotency genes followed by staged activation of neural progenitor and differentiated neuronal and glial genes. The transcriptional factors that underlie maintenance of pluripotency are partially characterized whereas those underlying neural induction are much less explored, and the factors that coordinate these two developmental programs are completely unknown. One transcription factor, REST (repressor element 1 silencing transcription factor), has been linked with terminal differentiation of neural progenitors and more recently, and controversially, with control of pluripotency. Here, we show that in the absence of REST, coordination of pluripotency and neural induction is lost and there is a resultant delay in repression of pluripotency genes and a precocious activation of both neural progenitor and differentiated neuronal and glial genes. Furthermore, we show that REST is not required for production of radial glia-like progenitors but is required for their subsequent maintenance and differentiation into neurons, oligodendrocytes, and astrocytes. We propose that REST acts as a regulatory hub that coordinates timely repression of pluripotency with neural induction and neural differentiation.
    Stem Cells 03/2012; 30(3):425-34. DOI:10.1002/stem.1004 · 7.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To celebrate 30 years of peer-reviewed publication of cutting edge stem cell research in Stem Cells, the first journal devoted to this promising field, we pause to review how far we have come in the three-decade lifetime of the Journal. To do this, we will present our views of the 10 most significant developments that have advanced stem cell biology where it is today. With the increasing rate of new data, it is natural that the bulk of these developments would have occurred in recent years, but we must not think that stem cell biology is a young science. The idea of a stem cell has actually been around for quite a long time having appeared in the scientific literature as early as 1868 with Haeckels' concept of a stamzelle as an uncommitted or undifferentiated cell responsible for producing many types of new cells to repair the body [Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte, 1868; Berlin: Georg Reimer] but it took many years to obtain hard evidence in support of this theory. Not until the work of James Till and Ernest McCulloch in the 1960s did we have proof of the existence of stem cells and until the derivation of embryonal carcinoma cells in the 1960s-1970s and the first embryonic stem cell in 1981, such adult or tissue-specific stem cells were the only known class. The first issue of Stem Cells was published in 1981; no small wonder that most of its papers were devoted to hematopoietic progenitors. More recently, induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) have been developed, and this is proving to be a fertile area of investigation as shown by the volume of publications appearing not only in Stem Cells but also in other journals over the last 5 years. The reader will note that many of the articles in this special issue are concerned with iPSC; however, this reflects the current surge of interest in the topic rather than any deliberate attempt to ignore other areas of stem cell investigation.
    Stem Cells 01/2012; 30(1):2-9. DOI:10.1002/stem.1007 · 7.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To celebrate 30 years of peer-reviewed publication of cut-ting edge stem cell research in Stem Cells, the first journal devoted to this promising field, we pause to review how far we have come in the three-decade lifetime of the Jour-nal. To do this, we will present our views of the 10 most significant developments that have advanced stem cell biol-ogy where it is today. With the increasing rate of new data, it is natural that the bulk of these developments would have occurred in recent years, but we must not think that stem cell biology is a young science. The idea of a stem cell has actually been around for quite a long time having appeared in the scientific literature as early as 1868 with Haeckels' concept of a stamzelle as an uncom-mitted or undifferentiated cell responsible for producing many types of new cells to repair the body [Naturliche Schopfungsgeschichte, 1868; Berlin: Georg Reimer] but it took many years to obtain hard evidence in support of
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    ABSTRACT: Neurogenesis requires the concerted action of numerous genes that are regulated at multiple levels. However, how different layers of gene regulation are coordinated to promote neurogenesis is not well understood. We show that the neural-specific Ser/Arg repeat-related protein of 100 kDa (nSR100/SRRM4) negatively regulates REST (NRSF), a transcriptional repressor of genes required for neurogenesis. nSR100 directly promotes alternative splicing of REST transcripts to produce a REST isoform (REST4) with greatly reduced repressive activity, thereby activating expression of REST targets in neural cells. Conversely, REST directly represses nSR100 in nonneural cells to prevent the activation of neural-specific splicing events. Consistent with a critical role for nSR100 in the inhibition of REST activity, blocking nSR100 expression in the developing mouse brain impairs neurogenesis. Our results thus reveal a fundamental role for direct regulatory interactions between a splicing activator and transcription repressor in the control of the multilayered regulatory programs required for neurogenesis.
    Molecular cell 09/2011; 43(5):843-50. DOI:10.1016/j.molcel.2011.08.014 · 14.46 Impact Factor
  • Noel J Buckley, Rory Johnson
    Experimental Neurology 07/2011; 231(2):191-4. DOI:10.1016/j.expneurol.2011.07.005 · 4.62 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Proneural genes such as Ascl1 are known to promote cell cycle exit and neuronal differentiation when expressed in neural progenitor cells. The mechanisms by which proneural genes activate neurogenesis--and, in particular, the genes that they regulate--however, are mostly unknown. We performed a genome-wide characterization of the transcriptional targets of Ascl1 in the embryonic brain and in neural stem cell cultures by location analysis and expression profiling of embryos overexpressing or mutant for Ascl1. The wide range of molecular and cellular functions represented among these targets suggests that Ascl1 directly controls the specification of neural progenitors as well as the later steps of neuronal differentiation and neurite outgrowth. Surprisingly, Ascl1 also regulates the expression of a large number of genes involved in cell cycle progression, including canonical cell cycle regulators and oncogenic transcription factors. Mutational analysis in the embryonic brain and manipulation of Ascl1 activity in neural stem cell cultures revealed that Ascl1 is indeed required for normal proliferation of neural progenitors. This study identified a novel and unexpected activity of the proneural gene Ascl1, and revealed a direct molecular link between the phase of expansion of neural progenitors and the subsequent phases of cell cycle exit and neuronal differentiation.
    Genes & development 05/2011; 25(9):930-45. DOI:10.1101/gad.627811 · 12.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Transcriptional dysfunction is a prominent hallmark of Huntington's disease (HD). Several transcription factors have been implicated in the aetiology of HD progression and one of the most prominent is repressor element 1 (RE1) silencing transcription factor (REST). REST is a global repressor of neuronal gene expression and in the presence of mutant Huntingtin increased nuclear REST levels lead to elevated RE1 occupancy and a concomitant increase in target gene repression, including brain-derived neurotrophic factor. It is of great interest to devise strategies to reverse transcriptional dysregulation caused by increased nuclear REST and determine the consequences in HD. Thus far, such strategies have involved RNAi or mutant REST constructs. Decoys are double-stranded oligodeoxynucleotides corresponding to the DNA-binding element of a transcription factor and act to sequester it, thereby abrogating its transcriptional activity. Here, we report the use of a novel decoy strategy to rescue REST target gene expression in a cellular model of HD. We show that delivery of the decoy in cells expressing mutant Huntingtin leads to its specific interaction with REST, a reduction in REST occupancy of RE1s and rescue of target gene expression, including Bdnf. These data point to an alternative strategy for rebalancing the transcriptional dysregulation in HD.
    Journal of Neurochemistry 02/2011; 116(3):415-25. DOI:10.1111/j.1471-4159.2010.07122.x · 4.24 Impact Factor
  • International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience 12/2010; 28(8):676. DOI:10.1016/j.ijdevneu.2010.07.102 · 2.92 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is a devastating disorder that affects approximately 1 in 10,000 people and is accompanied by neuronal dysfunction and neurodegeneration. HD manifests as a progressive chorea, a decline in mental abilities accompanied by behavioural, emotional and psychiatric problems followed by, dementia, and ultimately, death. The molecular pathology of HD is complex but includes widespread transcriptional dysregulation. Although many transcriptional regulatory molecules have been implicated in the pathogenesis of HD, a growing body of evidence points to the pivotal role of RE1 Silencing Transcription Factor (REST). In HD, REST, translocates from the cytoplasm to the nucleus in neurons resulting in repression of key target genes such as BDNF. Since these original observations, several thousand direct target genes of REST have been identified, including numerous non-coding RNAs including both microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs, several of which are dysregulated in HD. More recently, evidence is emerging that hints at epigenetic abnormalities in HD brain. This in turn, promotes the notion that targeting the epigenetic machinery may be a useful strategy for treatment of some aspects of HD. REST also recruits a host of histone and chromatin modifying activities that can regulate the local epigenetic signature at REST target genes. Collectively, these observations present REST as a hub that coordinates transcriptional, posttranscriptional and epigenetic programmes, many of which are disrupted in HD. We identify several spokes emanating from this REST hub that may represent useful sites to redress REST dysfunction in HD.
    Neurobiology of Disease 02/2010; 39(1):28-39. DOI:10.1016/j.nbd.2010.02.003 · 5.20 Impact Factor
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    Angela Bithell, Rory Johnson, Noel J Buckley
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    ABSTRACT: HD (Huntington's disease) is a late onset heritable neurodegenerative disorder that is characterized by neuronal dysfunction and death, particularly in the cerebral cortex and medium spiny neurons of the striatum. This is followed by progressive chorea, dementia and emotional dysfunction, eventually resulting in death. HD is caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the first exon of the HD gene that results in an abnormally elongated polyQ (polyglutamine) tract in its protein product, Htt (Huntingtin). Wild-type Htt is largely cytoplasmic; however, in HD, proteolytic N-terminal fragments of Htt form insoluble deposits in both the cytoplasm and nucleus, provoking the idea that mutHtt (mutant Htt) causes transcriptional dysfunction. While a number of specific transcription factors and co-factors have been proposed as mediators of mutHtt toxicity, the causal relationship between these Htt/transcription factor interactions and HD pathology remains unknown. Previous work has highlighted REST [RE1 (repressor element 1)-silencing transcription factor] as one such transcription factor. REST is a master regulator of neuronal genes, repressing their expression. Many of its direct target genes are known or suspected to have a role in HD pathogenesis, including BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). Recent evidence has also shown that REST regulates transcription of regulatory miRNAs (microRNAs), many of which are known to regulate neuronal gene expression and are dysregulated in HD. Thus repression of miRNAs constitutes a second, indirect mechanism by which REST can alter the neuronal transcriptome in HD. We will describe the evidence that disruption to the REST regulon brought about by a loss of interaction between REST and mutHtt may be a key contributory factor in the widespread dysregulation of gene expression in HD.
    Biochemical Society Transactions 12/2009; 37(Pt 6):1270-5. DOI:10.1042/BST0371270 · 3.24 Impact Factor
  • Rory Johnson, Noel J Buckley
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    ABSTRACT: Huntington's disease (HD) is an incurable, fatal neurodegenerative disorder that is caused by a polyglutamine expansion in the huntingtin (Htt) protein. Neuronal death in the striatum-the most obvious manifestation of the disease-is likely to result from widespread dysregulation of gene expression in various brain regions. To date, several potential mechanisms for this have been discovered, including one involving REST (RE1-Silencing Transcription Factor), a master regulator of neuronal genes. Recently, independent studies have demonstrated that post-transcriptional gene regulation by microRNAs is also disrupted in HD. Expression of key neuronal microRNAs-including mir-9/9*, mir-124 and mir-132-is repressed in the brains of human HD patients and mouse models. These changes occur downstream of REST, and are likely to result in major disruption of mRNA regulation and neuronal function. In this study we will discuss these findings and their implications for our understanding of HD. Using updated bioinformatic analysis, we predict 21 new candidate microRNAs in HD. We propose future strategies for unifying large-scale transcriptional and microRNA datasets with the aim of explaining HD aetiology. By way of example, we show how available genomic datasets can be integrated to provide independent, analytical validation for dysregulation of REST and microRNA mir-124 in HD. As a consequence, gene ontology analysis indicates that HD is characterised by a broad-based depression of neural genes in the caudate and motor cortex. Thus, we propose that a combination of REST, microRNAs and possibly other non-coding RNAs profoundly affect the neuronal transcriptome in HD.
    Neuromolecular medicine 06/2009; 11(3):183-99. DOI:10.1007/s12017-009-8063-4 · 3.89 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

7k Citations
648.12 Total Impact Points


  • 2015
    • University of Oxford
      Oxford, England, United Kingdom
  • 2007–2013
    • King's College London
      • Centre for the Cellular Basis of Behaviour
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
    • University of Milan
      Milano, Lombardy, Italy
  • 2012
    • ICL
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 2000–2008
    • University of Leeds
      • • Faculty of Biological Sciences
      • • School of Biomedical Sciences
      Leeds, England, United Kingdom
  • 1983–2000
    • University College London
      • • Department of Pharmacology
      • • Department of Cell and Developmental Biology
      London, ENG, United Kingdom
  • 1997
    • University of Dundee
      Dundee, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 1995
    • University of Glasgow
      • Division of Pharmacology
      Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdom
  • 1993
    • National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute
      Maryland, United States
  • 1990–1993
    • MRC National Institute for Medical Research
      • Division of Physical Biochemistry
      Londinium, England, United Kingdom
  • 1988–1989
    • National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
      Maryland, United States
    • National Institutes of Health
      • Laboratory of Molecular Biology
      베서스다, Maryland, United States