Joshua Breunig, PhD

Director, RMI Confocal Microscopy Core, Regenerative Medicine Institute
Phone:(310) 248-8569
Fax:(310) 248-8066

Institute Affiliation

Regenerative Medicine Institute

Awards and Activities

Society for Neuroscience2001
Cajal Club2010

Research Focus

Our lab investigates the molecular controls of neural stem cell behavior in the brain. Specifically, we are exploring the signaling pathways governing the differentiation of stem cells into neurons and glia. This information is then translated into strategies for replacing specific populations of neurons lost after injury and disease. Conversely, we also seek to discover the mechanisms regulating the pathological differentiation of neural stem cells into brain tumor progenitors. Using a next generation glioma models that we have created, we introduce patient-specific mutations to create analogous tumors in animal models. From these cancer cells, we are uncovering the developmental origins of tumorigenesis and have begun researching new, more targeted treatments to halt the progression of these malignancies.

Research Contributions

Elucidation of mechanisms governing neural stem cell maintenance in the postnatal brain.

Current investigations include:

Basic: Using genetic lineage tracing to examine normal developmental processes underlying the fate choices made during neural stem cell differentiation. Specifically, we study the signaling pathways governing neuro- versus gliogenesis.

Translational: Using a novel brain tumor model that we have pioneered, we are uncovering the mechanisms of brain tumorigenesis. Further, these same patient-analogous models are used to test novel, targeted therapies to combat these devastating malignancies.

Selected Publications

  1. Breunig JJ, Gate D, Levy R, Rodriguez Jr, Kim GB, Danielpour M, Svendsen CN, Town T: Rapid genetic targeting of pial surface neural progenitors and immature neurons by neonatal electroporation. Neural Dev, 7: 26, 2012
  2. Breunig JJ, Haydar TF, Rakic P: Neural stem cells: historical perspective and future prospects. Neuron, 70(4): 614-25, 2011
  3. Ables JL, Breunig JJ, Eisch AJ, Rakic P: Not(ch) just development: Notch signalling in the adult brain. Nat. Rev. Neurosci., 12(5): 269-83, 2011
  4. Breunig JJ, Sarkisian MR, Arellano JI, Morozov YM, Ayoub AE, Sojitra S, Wang B, Flavell RA, Rakic P, Town T: Primary cilia regulate hippocampal neurogenesis by mediating sonic hedgehog signaling. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 105(35): 13127-32, 2008
  5. Breunig JJ, Silbereis J, Vaccarino FM, Sestan N, Rakic P: Notch regulates cell fate and dendrite morphology of newborn neurons in the postnatal dentate gyrus. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A., 104(51): 20558-63, 2007
  6. Rasin MR, Gazula VR, Breunig JJ, Kwan KY, Johnson MB, Liu-Chen S, Li HS, Jan LY, Jan YN, Rakic P, Sestan N: Numb and Numbl are required for maintenance of cadherin-based adhesion and polarity of neural progenitors. Nat. Neurosci., 10(7): 819-27, 2007

Lab Information

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