Göttinger Graduiertenschule für Neurowissenschaften, Biophysik und Molekulare Biowissenschaften

Henningfeld, Kristine, Dr.

  • 1991-1996 Ph.D. Chemistry, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA, USA
  • 1996-1997 Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dept. Internal Medicine III, University of Ulm
  • 1998-2001 Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dept. Biochemistry, University of Ulm
  • 2001-2002 Post-Doctoral Fellow, Dept. Developmental Biochemistry, University of Goettingen
  • 2002 Group leader, Dept. Developmental Biochemistry, University of Goettingen

Major Research Interests

Throughout embryogenesis, multiple regulators act in a concerted manner to control the competence, differentiation and maturation of individual cells. During the development of the nervous system, ectodermal cells first acquire a neural fate, and individual cells are subsequently selected to undergo differentiation. The competence of the neural precursor cells to differentiate changes over time, thereby giving rise to the broad cellular diversity that exists in the CNS. To ensure that the proper number of individual cell types is generated, it is imperative for the process of differentiation to be highly regulated. It is anticipated that the hierarchy of events, which may allow for a directed differentiation of adult or embryonic stem cells in vitro, recapitulates those events that occur during embryogenesis. The elucidation of the molecular basis of neural developmental processes is therefore essential for such cell-based approaches that will eventually aim at the treatment of neuronal dysfunction.
We study the earliest events of vertebrate neurogenesis using the frog Xenopus laevis as a model system. Xenopus has proven itself as a valuable model system to elucidate the cascade of events that controls early neurogenesis owing to simplicity and accessibility of primary neurogenesis. In Xenopus, the first neurons, termed primary neurons, are born within the induced neuroectoderm shortly after gastrulation in three bilateral longitudinal domains. The differentiation of the primary neurons is driven by proneural bHLH transcription factors, such as neurogenin2 (Ngn2), which induces later acting genes required for withdrawal of the progenitor cells from the cell cycle and terminal differentiation. Cell-cell signaling mediated by the Notch pathway restricts the number of neurons that are generated at this time. Our research is focused on the identification and characterization of the intrinsic factors and signaling pathways that governs the early determination, differentiation and subtype specification of vertebrate neurons.

Homepage Department/Research Group:

Selected Recent Publications

  • Nieber, F., Pieler, T. Henningfeld, K.A. (2009) Comparative expression analysis of the Neurogenins in Xenopus tropicalis and Xenopus laevis. Dev Dyn. 238, 451-458.
  • Souopgui, J., Rust, B., Vanhomwegen, J., Heasman, J., Henningfeld, K. A., Bellefroid, E. and Pieler, T. (2008) The RNA binding protein XSeb4R: a positive regulator of VegT mRNA stability and translation that is required for germ layer formation in Xenopus. Genes Dev., 22, 2347-2352.
  • Dullin J.P., Locker M., Robach M., Henningfeld, K., Parain, K., Aoki, Y., Afelik, S., Pieler, T. and Perron, M. (2007) Ptf1a triggers GABAergic neuronal cell fates in the retina. BMC Developmental Biology, 7:110.
  • Henningfeld, K. A., Locker, M. and Perron M. (2007) Xenopus primary neurogenesis and retinogenesis. Functional Development and Embryology, 1, 26-36.
  • Klisch, T., Souopgui, J., Juergens, K., Rust, B., Pieler, T. and Henningfeld K.A. (2006) Mxi1 is an essential component of primary neurogenesis in Xenopus and acts by bridging pan-neural and proneural genes, Dev. Biol. 292, 470-485.