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Ulrika Marklund Group


Ulrika Marklund

Enhet: Ulrika Marklunds grupp


Neuronal subtype specification in the developing enteric nervous system

The peristaltic movements, secretion and blood flow in the gastrointestinal tract are controlled by the enteric nervous system (ENS), a series of ganglia contained within the gut wall. ENS dysfunction has been associated with many disorders including Hirschsprung disease, achalasia and some cases of Parkinson's disease. Despite the critical role of distinct enteric neurons for normal gut function, relatively little is known about their subtype specification during the development. Our project aims to uncover the regulatory mechanisms and the molecular programs that control neuronal cell fate decisions and differentiation in the developing ENS. Such knowledge may increase the understanding of ENS disorders and advance the development of novel regenerative therapies.

The ENS is derived from neural crest cells, which at early developmental stages colonize the whole extent of the gut whilst extensively proliferating and differentiating, resulting in an intricate network of neuronal circuits. To this date 15-20 adult distinct subtypes of neurons have been identified but the mechanisms for their diversification are still unclear. Previous studies have indicated that different neurons are generated in sequence. We are studying the molecular mechanisms of this temporal regulation of cell type specification. Furthermore we perform comparative studies of the differentiation programs of equivalent neurons in the central nervous system. To address these questions we use a wide range of methodologies including transcriptome profiling, histochemical expression analysis, and functional in vivo assays in chick and mouse.

If you would be interested to join the lab as a Postdoc or Master student, please send a request by email ( including a short CV and a description of your research interests.

Research group

Viktoria Knoflach PhD student
Ulrika Marklund Assistant professor
Fatima Memic Associated
Khomgrit Morarach PhD student