Johan Ericson's Group

The general theme of our research is directed at understanding general mechanisms that control the formation of cell diversity in the developing central nervous system (CNS).

Neurons derived from nesE-Lmx1a modified ES-cells differentiated in the presence of SHH, FGF8 and FGF2. The majority of neurons co-express markers of bona fida midbrain dopamine neurons such as TH (red), DAT (green) and Lmx1b (blue).

Different types of neurons are born at specific positions and at defined time points in the developing CNS. A central goal in the laboratory is to reveal the molecular mechanisms that control spatial and temporal aspects of neuronal fate specification. In this work, we are trying to identify signalling molecules and transcription factors that dictate the generation of specific neuronal subtypes in the developing neural tube.

Our studies focus on development of the spinal cord and brainstem, the simplest and best understood subdivisions of the CNS. Nevertheless, general principles that emerged from studies of neuronal determination at these axial levels appear to operate in a similar fashion in other, more complex, regions of the brain. In a long perspective, our studies are also aimed at characterising molecular pathways that control late aspects of neuronal differentiation, controlling the functional properties of neurons and the establishment of functional neuronal circuits.

We are also examining if determinants that control the generation of clinically relevant neurons during embryonic development can be used as tools in the development of stem cell-based replacement therapies for neurodegenerative disorders such as ALS and Parkinson's disease.

Group members

Selected Publications

A Shh/Gli-driven three-node timer motif controls temporal identity and fate of neural stem cells.
Dias JM, Alekseenko Z, Jeggari A, Boareto M, Vollmer J, Kozhevnikova M, Wang H, Matise MP, Alexeyenko A, Iber D, Ericson J
Sci Adv 2020 Sep;6(38):

Tgfβ signaling regulates temporal neurogenesis and potency of neural stem cells in the CNS.
Dias JM, Alekseenko Z, Applequist JM, Ericson J
Neuron 2014 Dec;84(5):927-39

Detailed expression analysis of regulatory genes in the early developing human neural tube.
Marklund U, Alekseenko Z, Andersson E, Falci S, Westgren M, Perlmann T, Graham A, Sundström E, Ericson J
Stem Cells Dev 2014 Jan;23(1):5-15

SoxB1-driven transcriptional network underlies neural-specific interpretation of morphogen signals.
Oosterveen T, Kurdija S, Ensterö M, Uhde CW, Bergsland M, Sandberg M, Sandberg R, Muhr J, Ericson J
Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 2013 Apr;110(18):7330-5

Mechanistic differences in the transcriptional interpretation of local and long-range Shh morphogen signaling.
Oosterveen T, Kurdija S, Alekseenko Z, Uhde CW, Bergsland M, Sandberg M, et al
Dev. Cell 2012 Nov;23(5):1006-19

Transcription factor-induced lineage selection of stem-cell-derived neural progenitor cells.
Panman L, Andersson E, Alekseenko Z, Hedlund E, Kee N, Mong J, et al
Cell Stem Cell 2011 Jun;8(6):663-75

A homeodomain feedback circuit underlies step-function interpretation of a Shh morphogen gradient during ventral neural patterning.
Lek M, Dias JM, Marklund U, Uhde CW, Kurdija S, Lei Q, et al
Development 2010 Dec;137(23):4051-60

Efficient production of mesencephalic dopamine neurons by Lmx1a expression in embryonic stem cells.
Friling S, Andersson E, Thompson LH, Jönsson ME, Hebsgaard JB, Nanou E, et al
Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 2009 May;106(18):7613-8

Identification of intrinsic determinants of midbrain dopamine neurons.
Andersson E, Tryggvason U, Deng Q, Friling S, Alekseenko Z, Robert B, et al
Cell 2006 Jan;124(2):393-405