With as many as 10,000 specific types of neuron in the human brain, unpicking the complex orchestration of development remains a significant scientific challenge. Mouse models have revealed much about how the mammalian brain forms. Sliced vertically this fine film of tissue – from a developing mouse brain – has been stained to show various developing layers, identified by means of different genetic markers. Markers can provide different kinds of information about cells and organisms. A transcription factor [protein that helps switch on genes] called Ctip2 is here stained green. Ctip2 drives the formation of medium spiny neurons in the striatum. These neurons – key to motor ability – are damaged in Huntington’s disease. As scientists identify the processes underlying disease pathology, they pave the way for molecules with therapeutic promise to be tested. In this way, laboratory experiments feed into clinical practice offering the possibility of new treatments for neurodegenerative disease.
Written by Brona McVittie
BPoD stands for Biomedical Picture of the Day. Managed by the MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences the website aims to engage everyone, young and old, in the wonders of biomedicine. Images are kindly provided for inclusion on this website through the generosity of scientists across the globe.
BPoD is also available in Catalan at www.bpod.cat with translations by the University of Valencia.