Hunger and satiety as well as levels of energy expenditure is regulated by complex tissue interaction and neurons of the mediobasal hypothalamus sit at the core of these interactions. In recent studies we showed that new neurons are added to the adult hypothalamic circuitry that regulates appetite/ energy expenditure by a population of neural stem/progenitors termed Tanycytes, possibly to endow malleability to this circuit. However, the vast of number of hypothalamic neurons, carrying different neurotransmitter subtypes, are generated during embryonic periods.
Lead by a set of preliminary data, we now hypothesize that interactions between several members of the Fibroblast Growth Factor (FGF) family is critical to generation of the correct cohort of hypothalamic neurons during embryogenesis. In this project, we will use transgenic mice that allow lineage-tracing and gene knockout as well as invitro systems, to ask: (i) Do FGF-expressing cells act as precursors of hypothalamic neurons, and if so, what cohorts of neurons are generated? (ii) Do FGFs regulate expression of neurotransmitters? (iii) Is there any genetic cross regulation between FGFs during the embryonic period of hypothalamic neurogenesis?
This project suits a motivated student wishing to pursue a research career in neurosciences. Through this project, the student will become trained in a host of cellular and molecular techniques and acquire transferrable skills through personal development courses delivered by the Norwich Research Park.