About this Research Topic
The development of the Nervous System relays on an intricate set of cellular and molecular events that are precisely coordinated. Together, they built a functional system that beyond its complex anatomical structure is the physiological substrate of our sensations, movement, thoughts, memory and conscience. Undoubtedly, understanding these cellular and molecular mechanisms is at the frontier of our knowledge in Biomedical Research for the 21st century. Moreover, these studies will greatly contribute to identify new therapeutic targets to either prevent or treat neurological disorders in the coming future. This is especially relevant for neurodegenerative diseases, one of the big challenges in neuroregenerative medicine.
Neuronal function is key for animal identity. It is controlled by a range of intracellular and extracellular mechanisms, that shape the Nervous System under physiological and pathological conditions. A vast part of our knowledge comes from animal models’studies, such as flies or rodents, and only recent advances using new in vitro models or chimeric animals have increased our understanding on human brain formation and function. During neurogenesis, stem cells that reside in the neurogenic niche develop to neural progenitor cells that initiate the transition towards differentiated neurons. Interestingly, this progressive process is tightly regulated by molecular mechanisms that maintain a reservoir of stem cells in an undifferentiated state contributing to Nervous System function and plasticity in the adulthood. This is of special interest in the case of neurodegenerative diseases as these cells have a potential therapeutic capability to burst adult neurogenesis. Once the neuroblast gets committed with its future neuronal identity, additional molecular and cellular aspects take place until a mature neuron is finally integrated into a functional circuitry. Among these processes, neuronal migration, axonal branching and navigation, dendritogenesis and synapse formation and plasticity are paramount. In the recent years, additional aspects have attracted much of attention, such as (i) its close relationship with the vascular system, (ii) the identification of a genetic program involved in the formation of gyri and sulci in the brain cortex, (iii) the identification of human-specific genes or (iv) the regulation guided by non-coding RNAs. Finally, the mechanisms underlying complex neurological disorders or neurodegenerative diseases, such as Autism, ALS or Alzheimer Disease, are revealing their intricate molecular and cellular etiologies.
This Research Topic, with focus on neurons’ interactions within their niche, with other cells and molecular cues, during development, networking and function, aims to provide a comprehensive overview of these timely issues in neuronal biology with a particular emphasis on functional crosstalk and systems biology approaches to studying these interactions. We seek Original Research, Review, Mini-Review, Hypothesis and Theory, Perspective, Clinical Trial, Case Report and Opinion articles that cover, but are not limited to, the following topics:
- Developmental and adult Neurogenesis;
- Glia Cell reprograming;
- Molecular mechanisms controlling Neuronal migration and axon specification and guidance;
- Circuitry formation and maintenance;
- Interactions between neurons and endothelial cells: the neurovascular link;
- Human-specific genes in the development of the nervous system;
- Cellular and molecular determinants of brain gyrification;
- Pathological mechanisms;
- New technologies, imaging procedures and models to study the aforementioned processes.
Keywords: Neurogenesis, Migration, Branching, Synaptic Plasticity, Regeneration, Gyrification
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