Two papers which Shaun jointly first-authored with Esteban Mazzoni have been published in the same issue of Nature Neuroscience.
In “Synergistic binding of transcription factors to cell-specific enhancers programs motor neuron identity“, we describe the mechanism behind the combinatorial action of transcription factors in motor neuron programming. Specifically, we found that Isl1 cooperates with Phox2a or Lhx3 in alternative programming modules that regulate differential specification of spinal motor neurons vs. cranial motor neurons.
In “Saltatory remodeling of Hox chromatin in response to rostrocaudal patterning signals“, we show show that chromatin of Hox genes is arranged in discrete domains. Patterning signals trigger recruitment of transcription factors to these domains, leading to rapid clearance of repressive histone methylation. This provides further insight into the transcriptional mechanisms underlying the establishment of epigenetically inherited rostrocaudal neuronal identity.