Neural Differentiation

Cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling neuronal differentiation and migration in the developing spinal cord and after adult spinal cord injury

Building neuronal circuits necessitates acquisition by each neuron of a specific cell identity, migration of differentiating neurons to a defined location within the nervous system and establishment of proper connections with target cells. Destruction of these circuitries as a result of tissue injury or neurodegenerative disorder results in functional impairment of the nervous system. However, cellular and molecular mechanisms that participate in neural development are reactivated in response to neural injury, suggestive of a possible strategy to promote tissue repair and functional recovery. The goal of our research is to characterize molecular and cellular mechanisms that control spinal cord development and to determine whether these mechanisms may be instrumental in treating lesions of the adult spinal cord. Hence, we study mechanisms that regulate differentiation, migration, connectivity and maintenance of motor neurons and interneurons in the developing spinal cord and of sensory neurons in the dorsal root ganglia, and we determine whether these mechanisms are reactivated in injured adult spinal cord and if their reactivation is beneficial or detrimental for tissue repair and functional recovery.

Ongoing projects:

  1. Cell autonomous and non-cell autonomous mechanisms controlling neuronal differentiation in the developing spinal cord
  2. Characterization of neuronal populations contributing to the formation of spinal motor circuits
  3. Mechanisms controlling neuronal migration in the developing spinal cord
  4. Reactivation of developmental mechanisms following adult spinal cord injury

More information:


Activity report 2018 (extract)


Activity report 2016-2017 (extract)



Frédéric Clotman - Principal investigator

Tel: +32 2 764 55 71