Noelia Urban

Systemic regulation of adult neural stem cells

  • Adult neural stem cells in the hippocampus generate new neurons throughout life. These neurons play important roles in memory formation and regulation of emotions. Reduced activity of adult hippocampal stem cells (AHSCs) is linked to the memory impairments associated with ageing and to affective and mood disorders, including depression. The rate of production of new neurons is regulated by physiological, pathological and pharmacological stimuli, such as exercise, diet, stress or antidepressants. However, the mechanisms linking those stimuli to AHSCs remain unknown.

    The general aim of the lab is to find the links between systemic stimuli and signaling pathways regulating the activity of AHSCs. Alterations in metabolism have been shown to affect stem cells in other tissues and there is a strong correlation between metabolic diseases and mental disorders. Thus, our first goal is to address how changes in systemic metabolism affect AHSC function. We use mouse models of ageing, diabetes and calorie restriction in combination with transgenic mice to monitor the behavior of AHSCs in response to metabolic changes. We also explore the molecular mechanisms underpinning the changes in AHSC behavior using in vitro models of murine and human neural stem cell quiescence. Finally, by using patient-derived lines we aim to elucidate how mutations and genetic variation affect human neural stem cell function.

  • Contact:

    Noelia Urban
    Group Leader at IMBA from October 2017
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Selected Publications

Urbán, N., van den Berg, DL., Forget, A., Andersen, J., Demmers, JA., Hunt, C., Ayrault, O., Guillemot, F. (2016). Return to quiescence of mouse neural stem cells by degradation of a proactivation protein. Science. 353(6296):292-5 (abstract)
Andersen, J., Urbán, N., Achimastou, A., Ito, A., Simic, M., Ullom, K., Martynoga, B., Lebel, M., Göritz, C., Frisén, J., Nakafuku, M., Guillemot, F. (2014). A transcriptional mechanism integrating inputs from extracellular signals to activate hippocampal stem cells. Neuron. 83(5):1085-97 (abstract)
Urbán, N., Guillemot, F. (2014). Neurogenesis in the embryonic and adult brain: same regulators, different roles. Front Cell Neurosci. 8:396 (abstract)
Martynoga, B., Mateo, JL., Zhou, B., Andersen, J., Achimastou, A., Urbán, N., van den Berg, D., Georgopoulou, D., Hadjur, S., Wittbrodt, J., Ettwiller, L., Piper, M., Gronostajski, RM., Guillemot, F. (2013). Epigenomic enhancer annotation reveals a key role for NFIX in neural stem cell quiescence. Genes Dev. 27(16):1769-86 (abstract)
Webb, AE., Pollina, EA., Vierbuchen, T., Urbán, N., Ucar, D., Leeman, DS., Martynoga, B., Sewak, M., Rando, TA., Guillemot, F., Wernig, M., Brunet, A. (2013). FOXO3 shares common targets with ASCL1 genome-wide and inhibits ASCL1-dependent neurogenesis. Cell Rep. 4(3):477-91 (abstract)

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