Tou Yia Vue

Ph.D. 2010

Thesis Title:

Mechanisms of thalamic nuclei specification and the influence of thalamocortical axons in regulating neocortical area formation

Current Position:

Postdoctoral Fellow
Department of Neuroscience
University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas

Undergraduate Institution and Major/Degree:

University of California, Davis., B.S. Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior

Major Advisor(s):

Yasushi Nakagawa, Ph.D.

Research Description:

The mammalian central nervous system (CNS) is composed of thousands of different types of neurons. However, it remains to be determined what cellular and molecular mechanisms are involved in the generation of this neuronal diversity. Fundamental questions of my research are: (1) when or where is the fate of a cell specified? Is it during its progenitor stage, or is it after it has become post-mitotic, or both? (2) What genes or transcription factors are involved in the specification of certain neuronal type? And (3) can we manipulate or change the fate of cells in vivo using genetic techniques?

To answer these questions, my research focuses on the thalamus, a structure in the diencephalon that is important for processing visual, auditory, and somatosensory inputs from the periphery as well as secondary inputs from other brain regions including the cortex. Unlike other brain structures, the thalamus is uniquely organized into clusters of cell aggregates called nuclei, with each nucleus composing of its own neuronal type. How these different neuronal types arise from a single layer of progenitor cells to form multiple nuclei is not understood. The goal of my thesis is to research the genetic cascade involved in cell fate specification and nuclei formation in the developing thalamus in the mouse.

With the degree of neuronal diversity within the thalamus, I believe deciphering this genetic cascade will provide critical insights into how the entire CNS develops.

Lab Rotations:

  • Yasushi Nakagawa
  • Lorene Lanier
  • Walter Low

Courses Taken Beyond the Core Courses:

  • BIOC 8002 Molecular Biology
  • GCD 8161 Advanced Developmental Biology
  • STAT 5101 Theory of Statistics I
  • GCD 8008 Mammalian Gene Transfer

Conferences Attended:

  • Society for Neuroscience Annual Meeting - Fall 2004, 2005, 2006

Selected Publications:

  • Bluske, K., Vue, TY., Kawakami, Y., Taketo, MM., Yoshikawa Y., Johnson, JE., and Nakagawa, Y. Wnt/β-catenin signaling specifies progenitor cell identity in concert with Shh signaling in the developing mammalian thalamus. Development 2012 139(15):2692-702.
  • Vue, TY., Bluske, K., Alishahi, A., Yang, LL., Koyano-Nakagawa, N., Novitch, B., and Nakagawa, Y. Sonic Hedgehog Signaling Controls Thalamic Progenitor Identity and Nuclei Specification in Mice. Journal of Neuroscience 2009 29(14):4484-4497
  • Vue, TY., Aaker, J., Taniguchi, A., Kazemzadeh, C., Skidmore, JM., Martin, DM., Martin, JF., Treier, M., and Nakagawa, Y. Characterization of progenitor domains in the developing mouse thalamus. Journal of Comparative Neurology 2007 505: 73-91


  • T. Vue, J. Aaker, A. Taniguchi, C. Kazemzadeh, M. Treier, Y. Nakagawa. (2006) Analysis of Progenitor Cell Domains in the Embryonic Mouse Thalamus. Society for Neuroscience Abstract No. 317.4/A4
  • T. Vue, Y. Nakagawa. (2005) Characterization of Progenitor Cell Domains in the Developing Mouse Thalamus. Society for Neuroscience Abstract No.140.8.
  • T. Vue, J.L. Spearow. (2004) B6 and CD-1 Derived Strains of Mice Differ in Ovulation Rate and Litter Size but not in Susceptibility to the Disruption of Gestation by Bisphenol A.  NorCal Society for Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry Abstract.

Awards and Honors:

  • Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship 2008-2009
  • Diversity of Views and Experiences (DOVE) Fellowship 2004-2005

Professional Memberships:

  • Society for Neuroscience

Home Town:

  • Fresno, California
Tou Yia Vue