Encyclopedia of Neuroscience

2009 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Binder, Nobutaka Hirokawa, Uwe Windhorst

Combinatorial Transcription Factor Codes and Neuron Specification

  • Douglas W. Allan
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-29678-2_1132


Transcription factor codes; Combinatorial action of  transcription factors; Neuronal determination; Neuronal differentiation


A “combinatorial code” of  transcription factors is commonly used to refer to two related phenomena in the specification of neurons:
  1. 1.

    Cellular definition. i) A combination of transcription factors that is required together to activate or repress a certain gene in a certain cell. ii) A combination of transcription factors that is required together to execute a neuron’s distinct differentiation program.

  2. 2.

    Developmental definition. i) The difference in the combination of transcription factors, between neurons, that accounts for their distinct gene expression profiles. ii) A spatial or temporal transition in transcription factor expression that confers a distinct program of neuronal differentiation or gene expression.



The nervous system contains many different types of neurons, whose differences ultimately reside in their...

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Douglas W. Allan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Cellular and Physiological SciencesUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada