You are here

Genetics, Epigenetics, and Environmental Factors in Neocortical Development

Weekly Seminar | Not Open to the Public
Who Should Attend: 


Extensive research into neurodevelopmental disorders highlights that genetics alone fail to account for many of these complex syndromes, leading to growing evidence that epigenetics and gene-environment interactions play critical roles in neuronal development and cognitive function. We are currently studying two epigenetic regulators that control distinct aspects of mammalian neocortical development. We have found that the transcriptional co-activator CITED2 regulates embryonic cortical progenitor development, and its loss-of-function leads to atypical behavior. MeCP2, on the other hand, is primarily required for later stages of neuronal development and function, and mutations in this epigenetic regulator cause Rett syndrome. We are investigating molecular and cellular mechanisms underpinning these neurological disruptions, and we have identified and are investigating how environmental factors, such as folic acid and vitamin D, tip the balance between typical and atypical neurodevelopment. The ultimate goal of this research is to understand how life-long environmental exposures intersect with fixed genetic susceptibilities to alter neuronal development and cognitive function.

Dr. Jessica MacDonald's Figure


Nikolaus R Wagner, Jessica L MacDonald
Atypical Neocortical Development in the Cited2 Conditional Knockout Leads to Behavioral Deficits Associated with Neurodevelopmental Disorders
Neuroscience. 2021 Feb 10;455:65-78. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2020.12.009. Epub 2020 Dec 17.
Mayara C Ribeiro, Seth M Moore, Noriyuki Kishi, Jeffrey D Macklis, Jessica L MacDonald
Vitamin D Supplementation Rescues Aberrant NF-κB Pathway Activation and Partially Ameliorates Rett Syndrome Phenotypes in Mecp2 Mutant Mice
eNeuro. 2020 May 22;7(3):ENEURO.0167-20.2020. doi: 10.1523/ENEURO.0167-20.2020. Print May/Jun 2020.
Mayara C Ribeiro, Jessica L MacDonald
Sex differences in Mecp2-mutant Rett syndrome model mice and the impact of cellular mosaicism in phenotype development
Brain Res. 2020 Feb 15;1729:146644. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2019.146644. Epub 2020 Jan 2.


Tuesday, February 23, 2021 - 12:30pm


Conference Room: 
Online Webinar

More Information

Darlene White

Conditions & Recovery

Neurodegenerative Diseases icon
Worldwide, 50 million people are living with Alzheimer's and other dementias.