Understanding Brain Function: Insights from Genetic and Epigenetic Analysis of CNS Cell Types
Nathaniel Heintz, PhD, Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator, James and Marilyn Simons Professor, Head-Laboratory of Molecular Biology, The Rockefeller University
It has been known for over a century that the circuitry of the mammalian brain is constructed from hundreds of morphologically distinct cell types. Despite decades of systematic and tremendously incisive electrophysiological studies of the responses of neurons to external sensory cues or internal physiological states, the detailed properties of discrete CNS cell types and their contributions to brain function remained largely obscure. In this seminar, I will discuss our efforts to characterize specific classes of CNS neurons at the molecular level, and to utilize this information to understand their function or dysfunction in the context of emotional or social behavior. The discovery of 5-hyroxymethylcytosine in the mammalian genome and its particular relevance to brain function will also be considered.