How do neurons maintain their specialised status?

Research Opportunity
PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students
Department / Centre
Anatomy and Neuroscience
Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute
Primary Supervisor Email Number Webpage
Dr Louise Cheng Personal web page

Summary The lab is interested in identifying novel transcription factors that regulate this process, and investigate whether these factors are involved in regeneration.

Project Details

The bidirectional conversion between differentiated cells and stem cells often underlies carcinogenesis. Mechanisms must be in place to prevent differentiated cells from reverting to multipotent stem cells. We have recently discovered that zinc finger transcription factor Nerfin-1 is required to maintain neurons in a differentiated state (Froldi et al., 2015). In the absence of Nerfin-1, neurons rapidly increase their cellular growth and switch on stem cell markers, then form tumours.


Dr Louise Cheng, Research Project Leader & Head of Laboratory


Dr Patricia Jusuf, School of Biosciences, University of Melbourne

Research Publications

Froldi F, Pachnis P, Szuperák M, Costas O, Fernando T, Gould AP, Cheng LY. Histidine is selectively required for the growth of Myc-dependent dedifferentiation tumours in the Drosophila CNS. EMBO J, 2019. (Cover Image). PMID: 30804004

Vissers JHA#, Froldi F#, Schroder J, Papenfuss AT, Cheng LY*, Harvey KF* (2018). The Scalloped and Nerfin-1 transcription factors cooperate to maintain neuronal cell fate. Cell Rep. Nov 6;25(6): 1561-1567 (# equal contribution, *Joint senior authors). PMID: 30404010

Froldi F, Szuperak M, Weng CF, Shi W, Pappenfus T, Cheng LY (2015). The transcription factor Nerfin-1 prevents reversion of neurons into neural stem cells. Genes Dev. 29(2):129-143. PMID: 25593306

Cheng LY, Bailey AP, Leevers SJ, Ragan TJ, Driscoll PC, Gould AP (2011). Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase Spares Organ Growth during Nutrient Restriction in Drosophila. Cell. 146(3):435–447. PMID: 21816278

Faculty Research Themes

Cancer, Neuroscience

School Research Themes

Cancer in Biomedicine, Biomedical Neuroscience, Stem Cells

Research Opportunities

PhD students, Masters by Research, Honours students
Students who are interested in joining this project will need to consider their elegibility as well as other requirements before contacting the supervisor of this research

Graduate Research application

Honours application

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact a supervisor.

Department / Centre

Anatomy and Neuroscience

Research Group / Unit / Centre

Cheng laboratory: Stem cell and organ size control regulation

Research Node

Peter MacCallum Cancer Institute

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