• 2485 Citations
1987 …2018

Research output per year

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Personal profile

Research Interests

I have had a long-standing interest in studying RNA regulatory mechanisms in development. My lab has focused on studying the mechanism of action of Evfs, novel long non-coding RNAs that regulate transcription factors essential for proper GABAergic interneuron development. Although a critical role for developmentally regulated transcription factors in patterning and differentiation has been established for some time, the role of long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) is only beginning to be understood. With genome-wide sequencing technologies, it is now known that the majority of transcripts are non-coding, (ie do not code for proteins). My lab's work on Evf2 has established some fundamental principles regarding lncRNA transcriptional regulation. Evf2 is conserved across vertebrates (ultraconserved), and is a sonic hedgehog target in the developing forebrain. We showed that Evf2 is transcribed across an enhancer, retaining enhancer sequences in the spliced mature transcript, complexing with the Dlx2 homeodomain transcription factor, and regulating Dlx 5/6 enhancer activity (Feng et al. 2006). Through analysis of an Evf2 loss-of-function mouse model developed in my lab, we reported that the Evf2ncRNA is required for proper regulation of genes in the Dlx 5/6 region, and adult hippocampal circuitry (Bond et al. 2009). We proposed a novel mechanism in which a DNA regulatory element is regulated by a complementary lncRNA critical for gene regulation in developing interneurons. More recently, we identified that Evf2 recruits both activator and repressor to the Dlx5/6 enhancers, repressing site-specific methylation (Berghoff et al, 2013), and forming a large ribonucleoprotein complex (Evf2, Cajigas et al. 2015). Future work will define the role of Evf2-RNP interactions in gene regulation in interneurons.

We have recently been funded by the NIMH to study how long noncoding RNAs regulate enhancer-chromosomal interactions across megabase distances. We are addressing the biological significance of these RNA-mediated chromosomal interactions during interneuron development.

Education/Academic qualification

PhD, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

… → 1990

Research interests

  • Behavioral Biology
  • Biochemistry: Nucleic Acid
  • Biochemistry: Proteins
  • Developmental Genetics
  • Developmental Neurobiology
  • Gene Regulation
  • Mood Disorders
  • Neuroscience

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Research Output

  • 2485 Citations
  • 29 Article
  • 2 Chapter

Enhanced susceptibility to stress and seizures in GAD65 deficient mice

Qi, J., Kim, M., Sanchez, R., Ziaee, S. M., Kohtz, J. D. & Koh, S., Jan 2018, In : PloS one. 13, 1, e0191794.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 10 Scopus citations

    The Evf2 Ultraconserved Enhancer lncRNA Functionally and Spatially Organizes Megabase Distant Genes in the Developing Forebrain

    Cajigas, I., Chakraborty, A., Swyter, K. R., Luo, H., Bastidas, M., Nigro, M., Morris, E. R., Chen, S., VanGompel, M. J. W., Leib, D., Kohtz, S. J., Martina, M., Koh, S., Ay, F. & Kohtz, J. D., Sep 20 2018, In : Molecular Cell. 71, 6, p. 956-972.e9

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 15 Scopus citations

    The Evf2 ultraconserved enhancer lncRNA functionally and spatially organizes multi-megabase distant genes in developing forebrain

    Cajigas, I., Chakraborty, A., Swyter, KS., Luo, M., Bastidas, S., Nigro, Morris, ER., Chen, S., VanGompel, M., Leib, DE., Kohtz, SJ., Martina, M., Koh, S., Ay, F. & Kohtz, JD., Sep 20 2018, In : Molecular Cell. 71, 6, p. 956-972 17 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    SHH E176/E177-Zn2+ conformation is required for signaling at endogenous sites

    Himmelstein, D. S., Cajigas-Rodriguez, I., Bi, C., Clark, B. S., Van Der Voort, G. & Kohtz, J., Apr 15 2017, In : Developmental Biology. 424, 2, p. 221-235 15 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 3 Scopus citations

    Evf2 lncRNA/BRG1/DLX1 interactions reveal RNA-dependent inhibition of chromatin remodeling

    Cajigas, I., Leib, D. E., Cochrane, J., Luo, H., Swyter, K. R., Chen, S., Clark, B. S., Thompson, J., Yates, J. R., Kingston, R. E. & Kohtz, J. D., Aug 1 2015, In : Development (Cambridge). 142, 15, p. 2641-2652 12 p.

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

  • 51 Scopus citations