Prof. Debra Silver: How to build a brain - Lessons from the RNA world

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The Silver lab broadly aims to understand genetic and cellular mechanisms controlling cortical development and evolution, including those relevant for neurodevelopmental pathologies. We employ a multifaceted strategy using mouse genetics, human stem cells, live imaging, and genomics to bridge developmental neurobiology, RNA biology, and evolution. 1) We study how mutations of RNA binding proteins impair cortical development and RNA metabolism to ultimately cause disease. 2) We also investigate how local gene expression (RNA localization and local translation) influences progenitor architecture and function. 3) A complementary research focus aims to understand how genetic modifications over the course of evolution influence progenitor behavior and human cortical development.
Most important recent publications:

  • Boyd, JL, Skove, SL, Rouanet, JP, Pilaz, LJ, Bepler, T, Gordan, R, Wray, GA, Silver, DL. Human-chimpanzee differences in a FZD8 enhancer alter cell cycle dynamics in the developing neocortex. Current Biology, Mar 16; 25(6):772-9. 2015
  • Pilaz, LJ*, McMahon, JJ*, Miller, EE, Lennox, AL, Suzuki, A, Salmon, E, Silver, DL, Prolonged mitosis of neural progenitors alters cell fate in the developing brain. Neuron. Jan 6; 89(1):83-99. 2016 .*co-first authors
  • Pilaz, L-J, Lennox, A.L., Rouanet, J.P., and Silver, DL. Dynamic mRNA transport and local translation in radial glial progenitors of the developing brain. Current Biology. Dec 19;26(24):3383-3392. 2016
  • Lennox, AL+, Hoye, ML+, Jiang, R, Johnson-Kerner, BL, Suit, L, Venkataramanan, S, Sheehan, CJ, Alsina, FC, Fregeau, B, Aldinger, KA, Moey, C, Lobach, I, Afenjar, A, Babovic-Vuksanovic, D, Bézieau, S, Blackburn, PR, Jens Bunt, J, Lydie Burglen, L, Philippe M. Campeau, PM, Charles, P, Chung, BHY, Benjamin Cogné, B, Curry, C, D'Agostino, MD, Di Donato, N, Faivre, L, Héron, D, Innes, AM, Isidor, B, Keren, B, Kimball, A, Klee, EW, Kuentz, P, Küry, S, Martin-Coignard, D, Mirzaa, G, Mignot, C, Miyake, N, Matsumoto, N, Fujita, A, Nava, C, Nizon, M, Rodriguez, D, Blok, LS, Thauvin-Robinet, C, Thevenon, J, Vincent, M, Ziegler, A, Dobyns, W, Richards, LJ, Barkovich, AJ, Floor, SN,  Silver, DL*, and Sherr, EH*. Pathogenic DDX3X mutations impair RNA metabolism and neurogenesis during fetal cortical development.  Neuron May 6; 106, 404-420. 2020  
  • HoHoye, ML, Lorenzo Calviello, L, Poff, AJ, Ejimogu, N, Newman, CR, Ou, J, Floor, SN, Silver, DL. Aberrant cortical development is driven by impaired cell cycle and translational control in a DDX3X syndrome model. BioRxiv. 2022.02.21.481343; doi:

After the talk the peaker will be available for one-to-one chats.
If you would like to exchange some scientific thoughts with her, please contact directly the host – Mareike Albert (