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Development of the cerebral cortex in health and disease

Oscar Marín

Oscar Marín

Director, Professor of Neuroscience

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One of the major goals of neuroscience is to understand how brain function emerges through the assembly of specific neuronal circuits. In our laboratory, we aim to understand the logic begind the assembly of neural circuits in the cerebral cortex, the region of the brain that is responsible for cognition and complex behaviours.

The cerebal cortex consist of two main classes of neurons, excitatory pyramidal cells and inhibitory interneurons. The balance between excitation and inhibition is crucial for cortical function, and so multiple mechanisms are in place that mantains this dynamic equilibrium. In some circumstances, the balance between excitation and inhibition in the cortex is disrupted, causing neurological and psychiatric disorders. For example, severe alterations of the excitatory-inhibitory balance cause epilepsy, and more subtle perturbations may cause autism spectrum disorders and schizophrenia.

Our laboratory investigates the normal and pathological development of cortical circuits using the mouse as an animal models. We are taking a multidisciplinary approach that combines mouse genetics, cutting-edge imaging techniques, and cellular, molecular and electrophysiological methodologies, both in vitro and in vivo. Our research is funded by the Wellcome Trust and the European Research Council. 

Selected publications

Minocha S, Valloton D, Ypsilanti AR, Fiumelli H, Allen EA, Yanagawa Y, Marin O, Chédotal A, Hornung JP, Lebrand C (2015) Nkx2.1-derived astrocytes and neurons together with Slit2 are indispensable for anterior commissure formation. Nat Commun 6: 6887
Villar-Cerviño V, Kappeler C, Nóbrega-Pereira S, Henkemeyer M, Rago L, Nieto MA, Marín O (2015) Molecular mechanisms controlling the migration of striatal interneurons. J Neurosci 35: 8718-29
Marín O, Müller U (2014) Lineage origins of GABAergic versus glutamatergic neurons in the neocortex. Curr Opin Neurobiol 26: 132-41
Del Pino I, Marín O (2014) Sculpting circuits: CRH interneurons modulate neuronal integration. Dev Cell 30: 639-40
Marín O (2013) Human cortical interneurons take their time. Cell Stem Cell 12: 497-9

Marín O (2013) Cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling the migration of neocortical interneurons. Eur J Neurosci 38: 2019-29

Marín O, Rico B (2013) A new beginning for a broken mind: balancing neuregulin 1 reverses synaptic dysfunction. Neuron 78: 577-9

Yang S, Edman LC, Sánchez-Alcañiz JA, Fritz N, Bonilla S, Hecht J, Uhlén P, Pleasure SJ, Villaescusa JC, Marín O, Arenas E (2013) Cxcl12/Cxcr4 signaling controls the migration and process orientation of A9-A10 dopaminergic neurons. Development 140: 4554-64
Villar-Cerviño V, Molano-Mazón M, Catchpole T, Valdeolmillos M, Henkemeyer M, Martínez LM, Borrell V, Marín O (2013) Contact repulsion controls the dispersion and final distribution of Cajal-Retzius cells. Neuron 77: 457-71
Bartolini G, Ciceri G, Marín O (2013) Integration of GABAergic interneurons into cortical cell assemblies: lessons from embryos and adults. Neuron 79: 849-64
Marín O (2012) Interneuron dysfunction in psychiatric disorders. Nat Rev Neurosci 13: 107-20

Ortega MC, Bribián A, Peregrín S, Gil MT, Marín O, de Castro F (2012) Neuregulin-1/ErbB4 signaling controls the migration of oligodendrocyte precursor cells during development. Exp Neurol 235: 610-20

Villar-Cerviño V, Marín O (2012) Cajal-Retzius cells. Curr Biol 22: R179

Marín O (2012) Brain development: The neuron family tree remodelled. Nature 490: 185-6
Borrell V, Cárdenas A, Ciceri G, Galcerán J, Flames N, Pla R, Nóbrega-Pereira S, García-Frigola C, Peregrín S, Zhao Z, Ma L, Tessier-Lavigne M, Marín O (2012) Slit/Robo signaling modulates the proliferation of central nervous system progenitors. Neuron 76: 338-52
Marín O, Gleeson JG (2011) Function follows form: understanding brain function from a genetic perspective. Curr Opin Genet Dev 21: 237-9

Sánchez-Alcañiz JA, Haege S, Mueller W, Pla R, Mackay F, Schulz S, López-Bendito G, Stumm R, Marín O (2011) Cxcr7 controls neuronal migration by regulating chemokine responsiveness. Neuron 69: 77-90

Rico B, Marín O (2011) Neuregulin signaling, cortical circuitry development and schizophrenia. Curr Opin Genet Dev 21: 262-70

Valiente M, Ciceri G, Rico B, Marín O (2011) Focal adhesion kinase modulates radial glia-dependent neuronal migration through connexin-26. J Neurosci 31: 11678-91

Gelman D, Griveau A, Dehorter N, Teissier A, Varela C, Pla R, Pierani A, Marín O (2011) A wide diversity of cortical GABAergic interneurons derives from the embryonic preoptic area. J Neurosci 31: 16570-80