Rajeshwar Awatramani, PhD
Scientific Director, Transgenic and Targeted Mutagenesis Laboratory (TTML)
Center for Genetic Medicine
Assistant Professor of Neurology
Feinberg School of Medicine
The adult mammalian brain is comprised of a plethora of molecularly and functionally distinct neuronal types, all of which are derived from a multipotent neural progenitor pool. Dr. Raj Awatramani is interested in how combinations of genes act together to specify distinct neuronal types from this progenitor pool.
The early embryonic neural tube can be viewed as a grid of information with unique gene expression domains subdividing both the anterior-posterior and the dorsoventral axis. To determine the consequences of this molecular grid of information, i.e. how progenitors located at unique coordinate positions and expressing unique combinations of genes, are allocated towards distinct fates, Dr. Awatramani’s laboratory has developed a dual recombinase-based intersectional gene activation system. This method allows the permanent activation of a reporter gene in progenitors located at the intersection of two gene expression domains. Using these fate mapping tools in addition to other molecular genetic approaches, they are beginning to uncover how progenitors located at unique gene intersections in the embryonic neural tube, are allocated to give rise to specific neuronal fates.