Molecular Mechanisms of Neural Fate Specification

The nervous system contains thousands of distinct classes of neurons and glial cells.  How is this cellular diversity achieved?  To address this question, we are studying the process by which neural stem and progenitor cells in the developing spinal cord and brain are programmed to produce specific classes of neurons  through the patterning actions of growth factor signals including Sonic hedgehog, Retinoic acid, and Notch signaling.