Activity Regulated Transcription

A stylized rendering of ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq data revealing transcriptional upregulation at and near the Fos locus.

Photo Credit to Helen Yang

How do transcription networks rewire neuronal circuits?

The goal of our laboratory is to understand the genomic mechanisms of neuronal activity-regulated transcription and its contributions to neural circuit plasticity. As part of this effort, we are developing a genomic and systems-biological understanding of the activity-regulated gene program. This work includes defining how different patterns of neural activity are translated into different sets of expressed genes and how this "transfer function" is encoded in gene regulatory sequences. In addition, we are investigating the functional consequences of activity-regulated transcription, with a focus on experience-dependent myelination and firing rate homeostasis. Our approach has the potential to reveal genomic mechanisms required to store new information in neural circuits, as well as maintain the firing rate stability needed to preserve old information and enable future learning.


Questions that interest us include:

 What does it tell us about a neuron’s activity history that it expresses an activity-regulated gene like Fos? How are transcriptomic computations encoded in neuronal signaling pathways and regulatory sequences?


How does activity-regulated transcription prevent runaway excitation? How does it orchestrate the experience-dependent changes in axonal myelination that are required for motor learning?

Contact Us

We are always looking for enthusiastic collaborators.




(617) 432-1877 [office]

(617) 432-1925 [lab]

Gray Lab, Department of Genetics, Harvard Medical School

NRB 0356, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, Boston, MA 02115