Development and diversity of neurons in the dorsal raphe

The dorsal raphe contains diverse neurons, including serotonergic, glutamatergic and GABAergic neurons, important for regulation of mood and motivation.

We are interested in the properties of these cell types and the mechanisms driving their differentiation. In particular, we are interested in the mechanisms by which transcription factors expressed in the post-mitotic neurons drive differentiation of molecularly, anatomically and functionally distinct subsets of dorsal raphe serotonergic neurons.

We have shown that the function of the transcription factors, required by embryonic precursors to adapt a serotonergic identity, is modified by transcriptional cofactors to promote differentiation of serotonergic neuron subtypes. Failure in this process results in altered serotonin neurotransmission in the brain and increased anxiety-like behavior.


Tikker, L., Casarotto, P., Singh, P., Biojone, C., Piepponen, T.P., Estartus, N., Seelbach, A., Sridharan, R., Laukkanen, L., Castren, E. and Partanen, J. Inactivation of the GATA cofactor ZFPM1 results in abnormal development of dorsal raphe serotonergic neuron subtypes and increased anxiety-like behavior. The Journal of Neuroscience, epub ahead of print, doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2252-19.2020, 2020

Haugas M, Tikker L, Achim K, Salminen M, Partanen J. Gata2 and Gata3 regulate the differentiation of serotonergic and glutamatergic neuron subtypes of the dorsal raphe. Development 143: 4495-4508; doi: 10.1242/dev.136614, 2016