reprogramming-inspired

perspective on development

Karow_Lab-1_edited.png
 
Research

Uncovering the molecular logic of human neuron formation -

from direct reprogramming to cerebral organoids

------------------------------------------------------------------

The vision of the Karow lab is to uncover mechanisms of human neuron formation and to identify new molecular targets not only for enhancing and navigating but also for correcting defective neurogenesis. We are integrating the strength of two complementary approaches to study the formation of human neurons, that is in forced and natural conditions. 

Through overexpression of neurogenic transcriptions factors we are forcing neurogenesis in non-neural brain-resident pericytes of the adult human cerebral cortex to obtain lineage conversion into induced neurons (iNs). Our recent work has revealed not only an unprecedented understanding of the intermediate states during the fate change of pericytes into iNs, but also provided new insights into the molecular underpinning of neuron subclass specification. Based on these findings, we now aim at using the iN model system to identify transcriptional programs driving neuronal subtype specification in natural conditions. This will provide not only new cues on the specification of distinct neuron classes, but might also provide new insights in the molecular basis for many neurodevelopmental disorders (including neuropsychiatric disorders) in which this fine-tuned balance of neuron specification is altered.

The tools to investigate this "natural" neurogenesis are centered around cerebral organoids, a model system allowing investigation of early aspects of human neurogenesis. Currently, we are studying the disease etiology of a monogenetic X-linked disorder caused by an intellectual disability-causing mutation.

If you want to know more about our research, please contact us. We are always interested in motivated, curious people with a background in biology, bioinformatics, biomaterials, and medicine. 

 
Team

Driven by my strong interest in translational aspects of stem cells, I am focusing on the processes induced in somatic cells during forced neurogenesis. My lab then embarked on combining this line of research with studying natural neurogenesis by using the cerebral organoid technology. It is in particular the unprecedented chance to study human neuron formation in a dish that fascinates me. 

In 2019 I joined the Medical faculty of the FAU Erlangen and moved my lab to the Institute of Biochemistry.

  • id
  • ncbi_logo
  • google.scholar
  • Black LinkedIn Icon
  • CV_logo
Marisa Karow, Dr
Professor

I am Sarah and due to my interest in molecular biology I left my hometown near Hamburg and moved to Freiburg to obtain my bachelor’s degree in Molecular Medicine. In 2019 I moved to Erlangen for my master’s and joined the lab in 2020 for a 3-month internship. In February 2021 I returned to do my master’s thesis here. I am particularly interested in the cerebral organoid technology and how it can provide insights into the pathobiology underlying neurodevelopmental diseases. In my leisure time I enjoy cooking and hiking through the landscape surrounding Erlangen.

Sarah Frank, BSc
Masterstudent
Sarah Frank, BSc
Masterstudent

I am Federica, I come from Treviso, a small town near Venice, in Italy. I obtained an MSc degree in Neuroscience from the University of Trieste during which I participated to the Erasmus+ Traineeship Program, that allowed me to do a thesis in neuroncology in Paris at the Sorbonne. I am now a PhD student at FAU, where I use organoids as models to study neurodevelopmental disorders. I am always amazed by the most elegant and complicated organ of our body, the brain. In my spare time I like to listen to all sorts of music and I try to go the sea/ocean as much as I can.

Federica Furlanetto, MSc
Graduate Student

I am Janine from Germany, and I graduated with a master´s degree in „Neuroscience” at the University of Oldenburg. During my master´s thesis, I focused on peripheral nerve regeneration. I am fascinated by the regenerative capacity of the human body, particularly the human nervous system, and the possibility of reprogramming cells in culture to acquire new functions – somewhat imitating developmental mechanisms. In my PhD, I will use live-cell imaging to track changes in cell morphology and gene expression of human pericytes, which are induced to become neurons. In my spare time, I like listening to music while riding the bike, or reading books. 

Janine Kayal, MSc
Graduate Student

I am Filippo and I come from Italy. I graduated from University of Pisa with a thesis on direct astroglia-to-neuron reprogramming. To perform it I spent several months at the Centre of Developmental Biology of King’s College London in the lab of Benedikt Berninger. Since the very first moment of my career I have been interest into the molecular aspects of cell fate specification in the human brain development. During my PhD I will use direct pericyte-to-neuron reprogramming as a tool to identify novel key-players of human neurogenesis. In my free time I do love hiking and watching auteur movies. I am deeply passionate about contemporary history.

Filippo Zoppi, MSc
Graduate Student

I graduated with a M.Sc. in Molecular Biology / Neuroscience from Heidelberg University and I am really fascinated by the idea of generating new neurons in adult human brains. In my PhD project, I therefore investigate the intermediate 'switch' state during direct pericyte-to-neuron reprograming. The same qualities I use for cell & organoid culture and scRNA-seq experiments in the lab, I apply as a passionate balcony gardener and cook at home.

  • ncbi_logo
  • RG
  • Black LinkedIn Icon
Ben Lohrer, MSc
Graduate Student

I am Hanna and I came to Erlangen to study Molecular Medicine at first. After two semesters I switched to a career in Medicine to get to understand the human body on the whole. During the time I got really fascinated by the field of embryology and the balanced processes during human development, especially of the brain. As my interest in the molecular structures never disappeared, I am very happy to join the lab for my first experiences in research and my medical doctoral thesis. My project will try to uncover whether and how physical forces have an impact on lineage decisions in human neural stem cells. In my spare time I love to be in hiking boots, on skis or on my yoga mat.

Hanna Lampersperger
Medical Student
Hanna Lampersperger
Medical Student

My name is Lia, I am a medicine and translational neuroscience student from Würzburg. The development and regeneration of the nervous system fascinates me particularly. And this is why I decided to move to Erlangen to perform my medical doctoral thesis. I focus on microtubule alterations causing aberrant neural stem cell decisions. Besides neuroscience I am passionate about arts and rock climbing.

Lia Birschmann
Medical Student
Lia Birschmann
Medical Student

I am the Lab-Dinosaur. I´ve been working at the Institute of Biochemistry since 1993. Now I´m looking forward to join and support Marisas team and to work on exciting research projects.

In my spare time I love to dance and travel a lot.

Doris Jaegers
Lab Technician
Doris Jaegers
Lab Technician
Alumni
 
Selected publications
  • Falk S*, Han Dandan, Karow M*. Cellular identity through the lens of direct lineage reprogramming. 2021. Curr Opin Genet Dev. * co-corresponding authors.

  • Karow M*#, Camp GJ*, Falk S, Gerber T, Pataskar A, Gac-Santel M, Kageyama J, Brazovskaja A, Garding A, Fan Wengiang, Riedemann T, Casamassa A, Schichor C, Götz M, Tiwari VK, Treutlein B#, Berninger B#. Direct pericyte-to-neuron reprogramming via unfolding of a neural stem cell-like program. 2018. Nature Neuroscience. * co-first authors  # co-corresponding authors.

 

Pubmed     Nature Neuroscience          PMC          GEO          ENA         Altmetric

  • Gascón S, Murenu E, Masserdotti G, Ortega F, Russo GL, Petrik D, Deshpande A, Heinrich C, Karow M, Robertson SP, Schroeder T, Beckers J, Irmler M, Berndt C, Angeli JP, Conrad M, Berninger B, Götz M. Identification and Successful Negotiation of a Metabolic Checkpoint in Direct Neuronal Reprogramming. 2016. Cell Stem Cell.

 

Pubmed           Cell Stem Cell          Preview         PlumX

  • Karow M, Schichor C, Beckervordersandforth R, Berninger B. Lineage-Reprogramming of Pericyte-Derived Cells of the Adult Human Brain into Induced Neurons. 2014. Journal of Visualized Experiments.

 

Pubmed           JOVE          PMC        

  • Karow M, Sánchez R, Schichor C, Masserdotti G, Ortega F, Heinrich C, Gascón S, Khan M, Lie DC, Dellavalle A, Cossu G, Goldbrunner R, Götz M, Berninger B.Reprogramming of pericyte-derived cells of the adult human brain into induced neuronal cells. 2012. Cell Stem Cell.

 

Pubmed           Cell Stem Cell          PlumX

  • Lan F, Liu J, Narsinh KH, Hu S, Han L, Lee AS, Karow M, Nguyen KH, Nag D, Calos MP, Robbins RC, Wu, JC. Safe Genetic Modification of Cardiac Stem Cells Using a Site-Specific Integration Technique. 2012. Circulation.

 

Pubmed           Circulation          PMC

 

Pubmed           Stem Cells          PMC

  • Our first 2 medical students join the lab. A warm welcome to Hanna and Lia!

  • Marisa is Co-Editor of the Frontiers Research Topic Neuronal Identity from Fate Specification to Function See more at: https://www.frontiersin.org/research-topics/15075/neuronal-identity-from-fate-specification-to-function 

  • We all welcome Janine as a new PhD student in the lab

  • Our new lab logo is here! Credits to our friend Dr. Heiko Brennenstuhl

  • 2021 Federica and Filippo start her PhD journey in the lab

  • February 2021 Sarah embarks on her master thesis

  • December 2020 we receive funding from the Jochen-Kalden-Funding-Programme of the IZKF Medical Faculty FAU) N7 Forging neural cell identity 

  • October 2020-December 2020 Bastian Meth performs his Bachelor thesis on the role of mechanical forces on neural stem cells (great collaboration with Sven Falk´s and Silvia Budday´s lab) 

  • June-December 2020 research visit of Florencia Vega Benedetti, PhD 

  • October 2019 Elisa defended her MSc thesis

  • September 2019 Marisa is appointed as a professor at the Institute of Biochemistry in the Medical Faculty at the FAU Erlangen

  • June 2018 Our work is published in Nature Neuroscience. Great collaboration with Gray Camp and Barbara Treutlein

News
 
 
Lab life
Falk and Karow labs summer BBQ
Falk and Karow labs summer BBQ

press to zoom
Falk-Karow-labs-summer BBQ
Falk-Karow-labs-summer BBQ

press to zoom
Outdoor lab meeting
Outdoor lab meeting

press to zoom
Falk and Karow labs summer BBQ
Falk and Karow labs summer BBQ

press to zoom
1/11
 
 
Open positions