Regulation of cell fate decisions is fundamental to development, disease, and regeneration.  The Dai lab will address how gene regulatory systems guide the assembly of complex biological patterns and aims to obtain extensive understanding of neural fate decisions and stem cell biology.

To achieve that, we exploit the combination of molecular, genetic and genomic approaches, and take advantage of two developmental systems, Drosophila periphery nervous system (PNS) and mouse neocortex.  In both contexts, gene regulation by Notch signaling and cell-type specific transcription factors (TFs) specifies an array of cell types and also controls the dynamics of neural stem cell renewal and differentiation. Our initial findings in fly will subsequently be used to guide similar studies in a mouse model. Together, we hope to understand how conserved molecular systems control cell specification to generate a functional organ during animal development.


Keywords: cell fate specification, neural development, neural stem cells, Notch signaling, transcription factor, genomics


Selected publications

Ueberschär M1, Wang H1, Zhang C1,6, Kondo S2, Aoki T3, Schedl P3, Lai EC 4*, Wen J5* & Dai Q1*. Ben-solo factors partition active chromatin to ensure proper gene activation in Drosophila. Nature Communications. (2019)10:5700.

Dai Q, Ren A, Westholm JO, Duan H, Patel DJ and Lai EC. Common and distinct DNA-binding and regulatory activities of the BEN-solo transcription factor family. Genes & Development. 2015 Jan 1; 29(1): 48-62. PMID: 25561495

Dai Q, Andreu-Agullo C, Insolera R, Wong LC, Shi SH and Lai EC. BEND6 is a nuclear antagonist of Notch signaling during self-renewal of neural stem cells. Development. 2013 May 1; 140 (9) :1892-902. PMID: 23571214

Dai Q*, Ren A*, Westholm JO, Serganov AA, Patel DJ and Lai EC. The BEN domain is a novel sequence-specific DNA binding domain conserved in neural transcriptional repressors. Genes and Development. 2013 Mar 15;27(6):602-14. PMID: 23468431. (* co-first author).

Dai Q*, Smibert P*, Lai EC. Exploiting Drosophila genetics to understand microRNA function and regulation. Curr Top Dev Biol. 2012;99:201-35. Review. PMID: 22365740. (* co-first author).

Duan H*, Dai Q*, Kavaler J*, Bejarano F, Medranda G, Negre N and Lai EC. Insensitive is a co-repressor for Suppressor of Hairless and regulates Notch signaling during neural development. EMBO J. 2011;30(15):3120-33. PMID: 21765394. (* co-first author)