Michael Piper

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (46)272.56 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Murine postnatal neural stem cells (NSCs) give rise to either neurons, astrocytes or oligodendrocytes, however our knowledge of the genes that control this lineage-specification is incomplete. Here we show that Nuclear Factor I X (NFIX), a transcription factor known to regulate NSC quiescence, also suppresses oligodendrogenesis (ODG) from NSCs. Immunostaining reveals little or no expression of NFIX in oligodendrocyte (OL)-lineage cells both in vivo and in vitro. Loss of NFIX from subventricular zone NSCs results in enhanced ODG both in vivo and in vitro, while forced expression of NFIX blocks NSC differentiation into OLs in vitro. RNA-seq analysis shows that genes previously shown to be differentially expressed in OL progenitors are significantly enriched in RNA from Nfix-/- vs. wild type NSCs. These data indicate that NFIX influences the lineage-specification of postnatal subventricular zone NSCs, specifically suppressing ODG.
    Stem cells and development 06/2015; DOI:10.1089/scd.2015.0136 · 4.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nuclear factor one X (NFIX) has been shown to play a pivotal role during the development of many regions of the brain, including the neocortex, the hippocampus and the cerebellum. Mechanistically, NFIX has been shown to promote neural stem cell differentiation through the activation of astrocyte-specific genes and via the repression of genes central to progenitor cell self-renewal. Interestingly, mice lacking Nfix also exhibit other phenotypes with respect to development of the central nervous system, and whose underlying causes have yet to be determined. Here we examine one of the phenotypes displayed by Nfix(-/-) mice, namely hydrocephalus. Through the examination of embryonic and postnatal Nfix(-/-) mice we reveal that hydrocephalus is first seen at around postnatal day (P) 10 in mice lacking Nfix, and is fully penetrant by P20. Furthermore, we examined the subcommissural organ (SCO), the Sylvian aqueduct and the ependymal layer of the lateral ventricles, regions that when malformed and functionally perturbed have previously been implicated in the development of hydrocephalus. SOX3 is a factor known to regulate SCO development. Although we revealed that NFIX could repress Sox3-promoter-driven transcriptional activity in vitro, SOX3 expression within the SCO was normal within Nfix(-/-) mice, and Nfix mutant mice showed no abnormalities in the structure or function of the SCO. Moreover, these mutant mice exhibited no overt blockage of the Sylvian aqueduct. However, the ependymal layer of the lateral ventricles was frequently absent in Nfix(-/-) mice, suggesting that this phenotype may underlie the development of hydrocephalus within these knockout mice. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier B.V.
    Brain research 05/2015; 1616. DOI:10.1016/j.brainres.2015.04.057 · 2.83 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Nuclear factor one (NFI) transcription factors are a group of site-specific DNA-binding proteins that are emerging as critical regulators of stem cell biology. During development NFIs promote the production of differentiated progeny at the expense of stem cell fate, with Nfi null mice exhibiting defects such as severely delayed brain and lung maturation, skeletomuscular defects and renal abnormalities, phenotypes that are often consistent with patients with congenital Nfi mutations. Intriguingly, recent research suggests that in adult tissues NFI factors play a qualitatively different role than during development, with NFIs serving to promote the survival and maintenance of slow-cycling adult stem cell populations rather than their differentiation. Here we review the role of NFI factors in development, largely focusing on their role as promoters of stem cell differentiation, and attempt to reconcile this with the emerging role of NFIs in adult stem cell niches. Developmental Dynamics, 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    Developmental Dynamics 03/2015; 244(3). DOI:10.1002/dvdy.24182 · 2.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Local protein synthesis (LPS) via receptor-mediated signaling plays a role in the directional responses of axons to extrinsic cues. An intact cytoskeleton is critical to enact these responses, but it is not known whether the two major cytoskeletal elements, F-actin and microtubules, have any roles in regulating axonal protein synthesis. Results Here, we show that pharmacological disruption of either microtubules or actin filaments in growth cones blocks netrin-1-induced de novo synthesis of proteins, as measured by metabolic incorporation of labeled amino acids, implicating both elements in axonal synthesis. However, comparative analysis of the activated translation initiation regulator, eIF4E-BP1, revealed a striking difference in the point of action of the two elements: actin disruption completely inhibited netrin-1-induced eIF4E-BP1 phosphorylation while microtubule disruption had no effect. An intact F-actin, but not microtubule, cytoskeleton was also required for netrin-1-induced activation of the PI3K/Akt/mTOR pathway, upstream of translation initiation. Downstream of translation initiation, microtubules were required for netrin-1-induced activation of eukaryotic elongation factor 2 kinase (eEF2K) and eEF2. Conclusions Taken together, our results show that while actin and microtubules are both crucial for cue-induced axonal protein synthesis, they serve distinct roles with F-actin being required for the initiation of translation and microtubules acting later at the elongation step. Electronic supplementary material The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13064-015-0031-0) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
    Neural Development 02/2015; 10(1). DOI:10.1186/s13064-015-0031-0 · 3.37 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Transcription factors of the nuclear factor one (NFI) family play a pivotal role in the development of the nervous system. One member, NFIX, regulates the development of the neocortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum. Postnatal Nfix(-/-) mice also display abnormalities within the subventricular zone (SVZ) lining the lateral ventricles, a region of the brain comprising a neurogenic niche that provides ongoing neurogenesis throughout life. Specifically, Nfix(-/-) mice exhibit more PAX6-expressing progenitor cells within the SVZ. However, the mechanism underlying the development of this phenotype remains undefined. Here, we reveal that NFIX contributes to multiple facets of SVZ development. Postnatal Nfix(-/-) mice exhibit increased levels of proliferation within the SVZ, both in vivo and in vitro as assessed by a neurosphere assay. Furthermore, we show that the migration of SVZ-derived neuroblasts to the olfactory bulb is impaired, and that the olfactory bulbs of postnatal Nfix(-/-) mice are smaller. We also demonstrate that gliogenesis within the rostral migratory stream is delayed in the absence of Nfix, and reveal that Gdnf (glial-derived neurotrophic factor), a known attractant for SVZ-derived neuroblasts, is a target for transcriptional activation by NFIX. Collectively, these findings suggest that NFIX regulates both proliferation and migration during the development of the SVZ neurogenic niche.
    Cerebral Cortex 10/2014; DOI:10.1093/cercor/bhu253 · 8.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Epigenetic mechanisms are essential in regulating neural progenitor cell self-renewal, with the chromatin-modifying protein Enhancer of zeste homolog 2 (EZH2) emerging as a central player in promoting progenitor cell self-renewal during cortical development. Despite this, how Ezh2 is itself regulated remains unclear. Here, we demonstrate that the transcription factor nuclear factor IB (NFIB) plays a key role in this process. Nfib(-/-) mice exhibit an increased number of proliferative ventricular zone cells that express progenitor cell markers and upregulation of EZH2 expression within the neocortex and hippocampus. NFIB binds to the Ezh2 promoter and overexpression of NFIB represses Ezh2 transcription. Finally, key downstream targets of EZH2-mediated epigenetic repression are misregulated in Nfib(-/-) mice. Collectively, these results suggest that the downregulation of Ezh2 transcription by NFIB is an important component of the process of neural progenitor cell differentiation during cortical development.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 02/2014; 34(8):2921-2930. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2319-13.2014 · 6.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The majority of neural stem cells (NSCs) in the adult brain are quiescent, and this fraction increases with aging. Although signaling pathways that promote NSC quiescence have been identified, the transcriptional mechanisms involved are mostly unknown, largely due to lack of a cell culture model. In this study, we first demonstrate that NSC cultures (NS cells) exposed to BMP4 acquire cellular and transcriptional characteristics of quiescent cells. We then use epigenomic profiling to identify enhancers associated with the quiescent NS cell state. Motif enrichment analysis of these enhancers predicts a major role for the nuclear factor one (NFI) family in the gene regulatory network controlling NS cell quiescence. Interestingly, we found that the family member NFIX is robustly induced when NS cells enter quiescence. Using genome-wide location analysis and overexpression and silencing experiments, we demonstrate that NFIX has a major role in the induction of quiescence in cultured NSCs. Transcript profiling of NS cells overexpressing or silenced for Nfix and the phenotypic analysis of the hippocampus of Nfix mutant mice suggest that NFIX controls the quiescent state by regulating the interactions of NSCs with their microenvironment.
    Genes & development 08/2013; 27(16):1769-86. DOI:10.1101/gad.216804.113 · 12.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The transcription factor nuclear factor one X (NFIX) plays a central role during the development of the neocortex and hippocampus, through the activation of astrocyte-specific gene expression and the repression of progenitor-specific pathways. However, our understanding of transcriptional targets of NFIX during cortical development remains limited. Here, we identify the transcription factor Bobby sox (Bbx) as a target for NFI-mediated transcriptional control. BBX is expressed within ventricular zone progenitor cells within the developing neocortex and hippocampus, and its expression is upregulated in Nfix (-/-) mice. Moreover, we reveal that NFIX can repress Bbx promoter-driven expression. Collectively, these data suggest that Bbx is a downstream target of NFIX during development of the forebrain.
    Cellular and Molecular Neurobiology 07/2013; 33(7). DOI:10.1007/s10571-013-9961-4 · 2.20 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Identification of the genes that regulate the development and subsequent functioning of the hippocampus is pivotal to understanding the role of this cortical structure in learning and memory. One group of genes that has been shown to be critical for the early development of the hippocampus is the Nuclear factor one (Nfi) family, which encodes four site-specific transcription factors, NFIA, NFIB, NFIC and NFIX. In mice lacking Nfia, Nfib or Nfix, aspects of early hippocampal development, including neurogenesis within the dentate gyrus, are delayed. However, due to the perinatal lethality of these mice, it is not clear whether this hippocampal phenotype persists to adulthood and affects hippocampal-dependent behaviour. To address this we examined the hippocampal phenotype of mice heterozygous for Nfix (Nfix (+/-)), which survive to adulthood. We found that Nfix (+/-) mice had reduced expression of NFIX throughout the brain, including the hippocampus, and that early hippocampal development in these mice was disrupted, producing a phenotype intermediate to that of wild-type mice and Nfix(-/-) mice. The abnormal hippocampal morphology of Nfix (+/-) mice persisted to adulthood, and these mice displayed a specific performance deficit in the Morris water maze learning and memory task. These findings demonstrate that the level of Nfix expression during development and within the adult is essential for the function of the hippocampus during learning and memory.
    PLoS ONE 06/2013; 8(6):e65478. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0065478 · 3.53 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neural progenitor cells have the ability to give rise to neurons and glia in the embryonic, postnatal and adult brain. During development, the program regulating whether these cells divide and self-renew or exit the cell cycle and differentiate is tightly controlled, and imbalances to the normal trajectory of this process can lead to severe functional consequences. However, our understanding of the molecular regulation of these fundamental events remains limited. Moreover, processes underpinning development of the postnatal neurogenic niches within the cortex remain poorly defined. Here, we demonstrate that Nuclear factor one X (NFIX) is expressed by neural progenitor cells within the embryonic hippocampus, and that progenitor cell differentiation is delayed within Nfix(-/-) mice. Moreover, we reveal that the morphology of the dentate gyrus in postnatal Nfix(-/-) mice is abnormal, with fewer subgranular zone neural progenitor cells being generated in the absence of this transcription factor. Mechanistically, we demonstrate that the progenitor cell maintenance factor Sry-related HMG box 9 (SOX9) is upregulated in the hippocampus of Nfix(-/-) mice and demonstrate that NFIX can repress Sox9 promoter-driven transcription. Collectively, our findings demonstrate that NFIX plays a central role in hippocampal morphogenesis, regulating the formation of neuronal and glial populations within this structure.
    Cerebral Cortex 10/2012; 24(1). DOI:10.1093/cercor/bhs307 · 8.67 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The nuclear factor one (NFI) family of transcription factors consists of four members in vertebrates, NFIA, NFIB, NFIC, and NFIX, which share a highly conserved N-terminal DNA-binding domain. NFI genes are widely expressed in the developing mouse brain, and mouse mutants lacking NFIA, NFIB, or NFIX exhibit developmental deficits in several areas, including the cortex, hippocampus, pons, and cerebellum. Here we analyzed the expression of NFIA and NFIB in the developing and adult olfactory bulb (OB), rostral migratory stream (RMS), and subventricular zone (SVZ). We found that NFIA and NFIB are expressed within these regions during embryonic and postnatal development and in the adult. Immunohistochemical analysis using cell-type-specific markers revealed that migrating neuroblasts in the adult brain express NFI transcription factors, as do astrocytes within the RMS and progenitor cells within the SVZ. Moreover, astrocytes within the OB express NFIA, whereas mitral cells within the OB express NFIB. Taken together these data show that NFIA and NFIB are expressed in both the developing and the adult OB and in the RMS and SVZ, indicative of a regulatory role for these transcription factors in the development of this facet of the olfactory system.
    The Journal of Comparative Neurology 10/2012; 520(14):3135-49. DOI:10.1002/cne.23081 · 3.51 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The neurodevelopmental hypothesis of schizophrenia suggests that the disruption of early brain development increases the risk of later developing schizophrenia. This hypothesis focuses attention on critical periods of early brain development. From an epidemiologic perspective, various prenatal and perinatal risk factors have been linked to schizophrenia, including exposures related to infection, nutrition, and obstetric complications. From a genetic perspective, candidate genes have also been linked to altered brain development. In recent decades evidence from neuropathology has provided support for the neurodevelopmental hypothesis. Animal models involving early life exposures have been linked to changes in these same brain systems, providing convergent evidence for this long-standing hypothesis.
    The Psychiatric clinics of North America 09/2012; 35(3):571-84. DOI:10.1016/j.psc.2012.06.002 · 1.87 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Neuronal migration plays a central role in the formation of the brain, and deficits in this process can lead to aberrant brain function and subsequent disease. Neuronal migration is a complex process that involves the interaction of the neuron with the surrounding environmental milieu, and as such involves both cell-intrinsic and cell-extrinsic mechanisms. Studies performed in rodent models to investigate the formation of brain structures have provided key insights into how neuronal migration is coordinated during development. Within the cerebral cortex, glutamatergic neurons derived from the cortical ventricular zone migrate radially into the cortical plate, whereas interneurons derived within the ventrally located ganglionic eminences migrate tangentially into the cortex. Within the embryonic cerebellum, cerebellar granule neuron progenitors migrate from the rhombic lip over the surface of the cerebellar anlage, before differentiating and migrating radially into the internal granule layer of the cerebellum perinatally. In this review, we focus on one family of proteins, the nuclear factor I transcription factors, and review our understanding of how these molecules contribute to the formation of the hippocampus and the cerebellum via the regulation of neuronal migration.
    Neurosignals 03/2012; 20(3):159-67. DOI:10.1159/000330651 · 4.03 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The Slit molecules are chemorepulsive ligands that regulate axon guidance at the midline of both vertebrates and invertebrates. In mammals, there are three Slit genes, but only Slit2 has been studied in any detail with regard to mammalian brain commissure formation. Here, we sought to understand the relative contributions that Slit proteins make to the formation of the largest brain commissure, the corpus callosum. Slit ligands bind Robo receptors, and previous studies have shown that Robo1(-/-) mice have defects in corpus callosum development. However, whether the Slit genes signal exclusively through Robo1 during callosal formation is unclear. To investigate this, we compared the development of the corpus callosum in both Slit2(-/-) and Robo1(-/-) mice using diffusion magnetic resonance imaging. This analysis demonstrated similarities in the phenotypes of these mice, but crucially also highlighted subtle differences, particularly with regard to the guidance of post-crossing axons. Analysis of single mutations in Slit family members revealed corpus callosum defects (but not complete agenesis) in 100% of Slit2(-/-) mice and 30% of Slit3(-/-) mice, whereas 100% of Slit1(-/-); Slit2(-/-) mice displayed complete agenesis of the corpus callosum. These results revealed a role for Slit1 in corpus callosum development, and demonstrated that Slit2 was necessary but not sufficient for midline crossing in vivo. However, co-culture experiments utilising Robo1(-/-) tissue versus Slit2 expressing cell blocks demonstrated that Slit2 was sufficient for the guidance activity mediated by Robo1 in pre-crossing neocortical axons. This suggested that Slit1 and Slit3 might also be involved in regulating other mechanisms that allow the corpus callosum to form, such as the establishment of midline glial populations. Investigation of this revealed defects in the development and dorso-ventral positioning of the indusium griseum glia in multiple Slit mutants. These findings indicate that Slits regulate callosal development via both classical chemorepulsive mechanisms, and via a novel role in mediating the correct positioning of midline glial populations. Finally, our data also indicate that some of the roles of Slit proteins at the midline may be independent of Robo signalling, suggestive of additional receptors regulating Slit signalling during development.
    Developmental Biology 02/2012; 365(1):36-49. DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2012.02.004 · 3.64 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Development of the cerebellum involves the coordinated proliferation, differentiation, maturation, and integration of cells from multiple neuronal and glial lineages. In rodent models, much of this occurs in the early postnatal period. However, our understanding of the molecular mechanisms that regulate this phase of cerebellar development remains incomplete. Here, we address the role of the transcription factor nuclear factor one X (NFIX), in postnatal development of the cerebellum. NFIX is expressed by progenitor cells within the external granular layer and by cerebellar granule neurons within the internal granule layer. Using NFIX⁻/⁻ mice, we demonstrate that the development of cerebellar granule neurons and Purkinje cells within the postnatal cerebellum is delayed in the absence of this transcription factor. Furthermore, the differentiation of mature glia within the cerebellum, such as Bergmann glia, is also significantly delayed in the absence of NFIX. Collectively, the expression pattern of NFIX, coupled with the delays in the differentiation of multiple cell populations of the developing cerebellum in NFIX⁻/⁻ mice, suggest a central role for NFIX in the regulation of cerebellar development, highlighting the importance of this gene for the maturation of this key structure.
    The Journal of Comparative Neurology 12/2011; 519(17):3532-48. DOI:10.1002/cne.22721 · 3.51 Impact Factor
  • Cancer Research 07/2011; 71(8 Supplement):242-242. DOI:10.1158/1538-7445.AM2011-242 · 9.28 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The sequential production of neurons and astrocytes from neuroepithelial precursors is a fundamental feature of central nervous system development. We report that LIM-homeodomain (LIM-HD) transcription factor Lhx2 regulates this transition in the developing hippocampus. Disrupting Lhx2 function in the embryonic hippocampus by in utero electroporation and in organotypic slice culture caused the premature production of astrocytes at stages when neurons are normally generated. Lhx2 function is therefore necessary to suppress astrogliogenesis during the neurogenic period. Furthermore, Lhx2 overexpression was sufficient to suppress astrogliogenesis and prolong the neurogenic period. We provide evidence that Lhx2 overexpression can counteract the instructive astrogliogenic effect of Notch activation. Lhx2 overexpression was also able to override and suppress the activation of the GFAP promoter by Nfia, a Notch-regulated transcription factor that is required for gliogenesis. Thus, Lhx2 appears to act as a “brake” on Notch/Nfia-mediated astrogliogenesis. This critical role for Lhx2 is spatially restricted to the hippocampus, because loss of Lhx2 function in the neocortex did not result in premature astrogliogenesis at the expense of neurogenesis. Our results therefore place Lhx2 as a central regulator of the neuron-glia cell fate decision in the hippocampus and reveal a striking regional specificity of this fundamental function within the dorsal telencephalon.
    Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 07/2011; 108(27):E265-E274. DOI:10.1073/pnas.1101109108 · 9.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Cue-directed axon guidance depends partly on local translation in growth cones. Many mRNA transcripts are known to reside in developing axons, yet little is known about their subcellular distribution or, specifically, which transcripts are in growth cones. Here laser capture microdissection (LCM) was used to isolate the growth cones of retinal ganglion cell (RGC) axons of two vertebrate species, mouse and Xenopus, coupled with unbiased genomewide microarray profiling. An unexpectedly large pool of mRNAs defined predominant pathways in protein synthesis, oxidative phosphorylation, cancer, neurological disease, and signaling. Comparative profiling of "young" (pathfinding) versus "old" (target-arriving) Xenopus growth cones revealed that the number and complexity of transcripts increases dramatically with age. Many presynaptic protein mRNAs are present exclusively in old growth cones, suggesting that functionally related sets of mRNAs are targeted to growth cones in a developmentally regulated way. Remarkably, a subset of mRNAs was significantly enriched in the growth cone compared with the axon compartment, indicating that mechanisms exist to localize mRNAs selectively to the growth cone. Furthermore, some receptor transcripts (e.g., EphB4), present exclusively in old growth cones, were equally abundant in young and old cell bodies, indicating that RNA trafficking from the soma is developmentally regulated. Our findings show that the mRNA repertoire in growth cones is regulated dynamically with age and suggest that mRNA localization is tailored to match the functional demands of the growing axon tip as it transforms into the presynaptic terminal.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 11/2010; 30(46):15464-78. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1800-10.2010 · 6.75 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The balance between self-renewal and differentiation of neural progenitor cells is an absolute requirement for the correct formation of the nervous system. Much is known about both the pathways involved in progenitor cell self-renewal, such as Notch signaling, and the expression of genes that initiate progenitor differentiation. However, whether these fundamental processes are mechanistically linked, and specifically how repression of progenitor self-renewal pathways occurs, is poorly understood. Nuclear factor I A (Nfia), a gene known to regulate spinal cord and neocortical development, has recently been implicated as acting downstream of Notch to initiate the expression of astrocyte-specific genes within the cortex. Here we demonstrate that, in addition to activating the expression of astrocyte-specific genes, Nfia also downregulates the activity of the Notch signaling pathway via repression of the key Notch effector Hes1. These data provide a significant conceptual advance in our understanding of neural progenitor differentiation, revealing that a single transcription factor can control both the activation of differentiation genes and the repression of the self-renewal genes, thereby acting as a pivotal regulator of the balance between progenitor and differentiated cell states.
    The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience 07/2010; 30(27):9127-39. DOI:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.6167-09.2010 · 6.75 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

1k Citations
272.56 Total Impact Points

Institutions

  • 2004–2015
    • University of Cambridge
      • Department of Physiology, Development and Neuroscience
      Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
  • 2000–2015
    • University of Queensland
      • • School of Biomedical Sciences
      • • Queensland Brain Institute
      • • Institute for Molecular Bioscience
      Brisbane, Queensland, Australia