The cerebral cortex is the most complex structure in our brain and the seat of consciousness, emotion, motor control and language. In order to fulfill these functions, it is composed of a diverse array of nerve cells, called cortical neurons, which are affected by many neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases.
Work from a research team led by Pierre Vanderhaeghen (Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB), WELBIO investigator at the Institut de Recherches Interdisciplinaires en Biologie Humaine et Moléculaire (IRIBHM - Faculty of Medicine) and ULB Neuroscience Institute (UNI)) opens new perspectives on brain development and stem cell neurobiology by discovering a gene called BCL6 as a key factor in the generation of cortical neurons during embryonic brain development.
This study is published online this 18th November in Nature Neuroscience.
Drs Luca Tiberi and Jelle van den Ameele (FNRS Fellows at IRIBHM, ULB), identified BCL6 by searching for factors that can modulate the production of nerve cells in a model of neural differentiation from mouse embryonic stem cells. They found that overexpression of BCL6 resulted in a massive transformation of neural stem cells into cortical neurons that were well differentiated and functional.