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Benedikt Berninger

Physiological and Induced Neurogenesis in the Adult Brain

For most parts of the brain, neurogenesis ceases forever with the closure of embryonic development. In the adult brain only two regions, i.e., the adult dentate gyrus of the hippocampus and the subventricular zone lining the lateral ventricle, maintain neural stem cell activity throughout life. We want to know why this is so, and what could be done to overcome these severe limits to plasticity and repair in other brain regions. Thus, on one hand we study the regulation of adult neural stem cell activity in both neurogenic niches and how newly generated neurons integrate into pre-existing neural circuits. On the other hand we explore the possibility of inducing the generation of new neurons in brain regions classically devoid of physiological neurogenesis.

To this end, we utilise neurogenic transcription factors such as the proneural genes Ascl1 and Neurog2 to induce brain astrocytes and oligodendrocyte precursor cells to undergo cell fate conversion into neurons. We aim at deciphering the molecular mechanisms driving this transcription factor-mediated lineage reprogramming, and try to utilize this knowledge to steer cell fate conversion towards the generation of clinically relevant subtypes of neurons. We study glia-to-neuron lineage reprogramming both in vitro and in vivo using single cell transcriptomics, live cell imaging and electrophysiology.

Research website

Positions held

  • Since 2018: Professor, Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience, Centre of Developmental Neurobiology, King's College London
  • Since 2012: Professor, University Medical Center (UMC), Mainz
  • 2011 - 2012: Senior Lecturer in Physiology, Department of Physiological Genomics, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich
  • 2005: Lecturer in Physiology, Department of Physiological Genomics, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich
  • 2003 - 2005: Senior Research Associate at the Institute of Stem Cell Research, Helmholtz Zentrum Munich
  • 2000 - 2003: Group leader at the Department of Neuroimmunology, MPI of Neurobiology

Education

  • 2011: Habilitation and venia legendi, Faculty of Medicine (Physiology), Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich
  • 1993 - 1996: PhD with Dr. H. Thoenen, MPI of Psychiatry (now Neurobiology), Martinsried/Munich
  • 1992: Diploma in Biology, Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich

Selected publications by Benedikt Berninger

Kalamakis G, Brüne D, Ravichandran S, Bolz J, Fan W, Ziebell F, Stiehl T, Catalá-Martinez F, Kupke J, Zhao S, Llorens-Bobadilla E, Bauer K, Limpert S, Berger B, Christen U, Schmezer P, Mallm JP, Berninger B, Anders S, Del Sol A, Marciniak-Czochra A, Martin-Villalba A (2019) Quiescence modulates stem cell maintenance and regenerative capacity in the aging brain. Cell, 176:1407-1419.e14 Link

Tiwari N, Pataskar A, Péron S, Thakurela S, Sahu SK, Figueres-Oñate M, Marichal N, López-Mascaraque L, Tiwari VK*, Berninger B* (2018) Stage-specific transcription factors drive astrogliogenesis by remodeling gene regulatory landscapes. Cell Stem Cell, 23(4):557-571.e8. [*indicates equal contribution] Link

Karow M*, Camp JG, Falk S, Gerber T, Pataskar A, Gac-Santel M, Kageyama J, Brazovskaja A, Garding A, Fan W, Riedemann T, Casamassa A, Smiyakin A, Schichor C, Götz M, Tiwari VK, Treutlein B* and Berninger B* (2018) Direct pericyte-to-neuron reprogramming via unfolding of a neural stem cell-like program. Nat Neurosci, 21:932-940 [*indicates equal contribution] Link

Bicker F, Vasic V, Horta G, Ortega F, Nolte H, Kavyanifar A, Keller S, Stankovic ND, Harter PN, Benedito R, Lutz B, Bäuerle T, Hartwig J, Baumgart J, Krüger M, Radyushkin K, Alberi L, Berninger B and Schmidt MHH (2017) Neurovascular EGFL7 regulates adult neurogenesis in the subventricular zone and thereby affects olfactory perception.Nat Commun. 8:15922 Link

Gascón S, Mureno E, Masserdotti G, Ortega F, Russo GL, Petrik D, Deshpande A, Heinrich C, Karow M, Roberston SP, Schroeder T, Beckers J, Irmler M, Berndt C, Friedmann Angeli JP, Conrad M, Berninger B and Götz M (2016). Identification and successful negotiation of a metabolic checkpoint in direct neuronal reprogramming. Cell Stem Cell, 18:396-409 Link