Samuel Pfaff, a professor in the Gene Expression Laboratory, studies the fetal development of the spinal cord. The objective is to discover how nerve cells are formed and wire up correctly.
Of special interest to him is how motor neurons develop and make connections between the spinal cord and muscles in the body, since these connections are necessary for all body movements. Spinal cord injuries lead to paralysis because motor neuron function is disrupted. Degenerative diseases such as ALS (Lou Gehrigís disease), spinal muscle atrophy and post-polio syndrome result from the loss of motor neurons.
Thaler, J., Koo, S., Kania, A., Lettieri, K. Andrews, S., Jessell, T.M., and Pfaff, S.L. (2004). A post-mitotic role for Isl-class LIM homeodomain factors in the assignment of visceral spinal motor neuron identity. Neuron 41: 337-350.
Pak, W., Hindges, H., Pfaff, S.L., O’Leary, D.D. (2004). Magnitude of binocular vision controlled by Islet-2 repression of a genetic program that specifies laterality of retinal axon pathfinding. Cell 119: 567-78.
Marquardt, T., Shirasaki, R., Ghosh, Carter, N., S., Andrews, S.E., Hunter, T., Pfaff, S.L. (2005). Co-expressed EphA receptors and ephrin-A ligands mediate opposing actions on growth cone navigation from distinct membrane subdomains. Cell 121: 127-39.
Yeo, M., Lee, S.-K., Pfaff, S.L., Gill, G.N. (2005). SCP phosphatases function in silencing neuronal gene expression. Science 307: 596-600
Myers, C.P., Lewcock, J.W., Hanson, M.G., Gosgnach, S., Aimone, J.B., Gage, F.H., Lee, K-F., Landmesser, L.T., and Pfaff, S.L. (2005). Cholinergic input is required during embryonic development to mediate proper assembly of spinal locomotor circuits. Neuron 46: 37-49.
Lee, S.-K. and Pfaff, S.L. (2001). Transcriptional networks regulating neuronal identity in the developing spinal cord. Nature Neuroscience 4:33-41.
Marquardt, T. and Pfaff, S.L. (2001). Cracking the transcriptional code for cell specification in the neural tube. Cell 106:651-654.
Shirasaki, R. and Pfaff, S.L. (2002). Transcriptional codes and the control of neuronal identity. Ann. Rev. Neuroscience 25: 251-281.
Goulding, M., and Pfaff, S.L. (2005). Development of circuits that generate simple rhythmic behaviors in vertebrates. Curr Opin Neurobiol 115: 14-20
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