The research in the Johnson lab is focused on vertebrate system
development during the transition from proliferating neural stem
cells to differentiating neurons and glia. These studies involve
understanding the regulation and function of the neural specific
class of bHLH transcription factors. Alteration in function and
expression of the neural bHLH factors result in disturbances of
connectivity, imbalances in excitatory and inhibitory neuron formation and loss of control of neural cell number. Using transgenic mice, genomic sequences are being identified that direct temporal and spatial specific expression of these factors in the developing brain and spinal cord. We are using these regulatory sequences to uncover processes initiating neural stem cell differentiation, and to generate new models to study the molecular control of neural differentiation and specification throughout the nervous system.