PiN Faculty Member - Paola Arlotta, PhD

Paola Arlotta, PhD

Associate Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology

Harvard University
Dept. of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology
7 Divinity Avenue, SF 358C
Cambridge, MA 02138
Tel: 617-496-9810
Fax: 617-496-3763
Visit my lab page here.

We are interested in understanding the molecular mechanisms that govern the establishment and maintenance of neuronal diversity in the mammalian cerebral cortex, and in developing approaches to aid neuronal regeneration in the context of neurodegenerative disease of the cortical output circuitry.

The neocortex contains an unparalleled diversity of neuronal subtypes, each defined by distinct traits that are developmentally acquired under the control of several neuron subtype-specific and pan-neuronal genes. The cis-regulatory logic that orchestrates the coordinated expression of these unique combinations of genes is not known for any class of cortical neurons. Using a variety of experimental tools we aim to understand the molecular, regulatory architecture responsible for the establishment of identity and integration into circuitry of corticospinal motor neurons (CSMN), a prototypical population of cortical excitatory neurons of clinical relevance.

Building on information on how CSMN differentiation and circuit building are governed in the embryo (“programming”), we additionally investigate whether direct lineage “reprogramming” of postmitotic cortical neuron identity and circuitry is possible, in vivo. Neurons of the mammalian cortex are a classic example of a stable, terminally differentiated cell type. Once generated, these neurons become permanently postmitotic and do not change their identity for the life span of the organism. We have shown that during a window of postmitotic development neurons can change their identity, acquiring critical features of alternate neuronal lineages. The work indicates that postmitotic neurons can undergo lineage reprogramming in vivo and paves the way for mechanistic studies aimed at enhancing the process of neuronal conversion by extending the period of neuronal reprogramming to the mature brain.

Last Update: 5/6/2014


For a complete listing of publications click here.



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