The incredible diversity of neurons in the brain is born from a small population of neural progenitors that generate each cell type in a stereotyped birth order. While neural progenitors can make many different cell types over the course of development, at any given moment in time their potential, or competence, is highly restricted. How is competence regulated, and what are the trans-acting factors that control competence transitions? We use the Drosophila embryo neuroblast (fly neural progenitors) to study the role that genome architecture plays in competence and cell fate specification. Neuroblasts undergo a developmentally-timed reorganization of their genome that determines which genes can be activated in the descendent neurons and thus their ability to specify daughter neuron cell fate. I will discuss our recent findings on the mechanisms underlying nuclear architecture dynamics as well as describe new data on a neuroblast nuclear factor with phase-separating properties.
Host Marc Schmidt