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Picture of Debbie van den Berg
Principal Investigator

Dr. D.L.C. (Debbie) van den Berg

  • Department
  • Cell Biology
  • Focus area
  • Developmental Neurobiology



Developmental Neurobiology

In my lab we study brain development, in particular of the cerebral neocortex, our information processing centre that is responsible for higher cognitive functions such as language, memory and thought. It is generated from a pool of progenitor cells that will give rise to the neuronal and glial lineages of the adult brain. Its projection neurons are organised in six distinguishable layers, which are formed in an inside-out manner such that earlier born neurons occupy deeper layers than late-born neurons.

Accurate formation of neuronal circuits depends on the coordination of multiple processes, including progenitor pool amplification, neuronal differentiation and subtype specification. Developmental disturbance of these events affects shaping of the neuronal network and has been linked to a variety of neurological disorders, including epilepsy, schizophrenia, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability.

We are particularly interested in transcriptional regulation of the cortical development program and the consequences of disease-associated mutations in transcriptional regulators on the execution of this program. We study mechanistic effects of these genetic variants on differentiation of human neuronal progenitors in vitro and on cortical development in mouse embryos and human cerebral organoids. 


Disruption of Nipbl or Zfp609 results in abnormal clusters of nerve cells in lower regions of the brain.


Biochemical purification of transcription factor complexes and genome wide binding site mapping.


Contact information

Name: Debbie van der Berg
Telephone: +31-107032978
E-mail: d.vandenberg@erasmusmc.nl

Visiting address
Dept. of Cell Biology
Erasmus MC
Faculty building
Room Ee-1065a
Wytemaweg 80
3015CN Rotterdam
The Netherlands

Mail address
Dept. of Cell Biology
Erasmus MC
Faculty building
Room Ee-1065a
PO Box 2040
3000 CA Rotterdam
The Netherlands 


van den Berg, D.L.#, Azzarelli, R., Oishi, K., Martynoga, B., Urban, N., Dekkers, D.H., Demmers, J.A., and Guillemot, F.# (2017). Nipbl Interacts with Zfp609 and the Integrator Complex to Regulate Cortical Neuron Migration. Neuron 93, 348-361.
# corresponding authors

Oegema, R., Baillat, D., Schot, R., van Unen, L.M., Brooks, A., Kia, S.K., Hoogeboom, A.J.M., Xia, Z., Li, W., Cesaroni, M., Lequin, M.H., van Slegtenhorst, M., Dobyns, W.B., de Coo, I.F.M., van den Berg, D., Verheijen, F.W., Kremer, A., van der Spek, P.J., Heijsman, D., Wagner, E.J., Fornerod, M., and Mancini, G.M.S. (2017). Correction: Human mutations in integrator complex subunits link transcriptome integrity to brain development. PLOS Genetics 13, e1006923.

Urban, N., van den Berg, D.L., Forget, A., Andersen, J., Demmers, J.A., Hunt, C., Ayrault, O., and Guillemot, F. (2016). Return to quiescence of mouse neural stem cells by degradation of a proactivation protein. Science 353, 292-295.

Raposo, A.A., Vasconcelos, F.F., Drechsel, D., Marie, C., Johnston, C., Dolle, D., Bithell, A., Gillotin, S., van den Berg, D.L., Ettwiller, L., Flicek, P., Crawford, G.E., Parras, C.M., Berninger, B., Buckley, N.J., Guillemot, F., and Castro, D.S. (2015). Ascl1 Coordinately Regulates Gene Expression and the Chromatin Landscape during Neurogenesis. Cell Rep. 10, 1544 – 1556

Mateo, J.L., van den Berg, D.L., Haeussler, M., Drechsel, D., Gaber, Z.B., Castro, D.S., Robson, P., Crawford, G.E., Flicek, P., Ettwiller, L., Wittbrodt, J., Guillemot, F., and Martynoga, B. (2015). Characterization of the neural stem cell gene regulatory network identifies OLIG2 as a multifunctional regulator of self-renewal. Genome Res 25, 41-56.

Engelen, E., Brandsma, J.H., Moen, M.J., Signorile, L., Dekkers, D.H., Demmers, J., Kockx, C.E., Ozgur, Z., van, I.W.F., van den Berg, D.L.#, and Poot, R.A.# (2015). Proteins that bind regulatory regions identified by histone modification chromatin immunoprecipitations and mass spectrometry. Nat Commun 6, 7155.
# corresponding authors

Azzarelli, R., Pacary, E., Garg, R., Garcez, P., van den Berg, D., Riou, P., Ridley, A.J., Friedel, R.H., Parsons, M., and Guillemot, F. (2014). An antagonistic interaction between PlexinB2 and Rnd3 controls RhoA activity and cortical neuron migration. Nat Commun 5, 3405.

Martynoga, B., Mateo, J.L., Zhou, B., Andersen, J., Achimastou, A., Urban, N., van den Berg, D., Georgopoulou, D., Hadjur, S., Wittbrodt, J., Ettwiller, L., Piper, M., Gronostajski, R.M., and Guillemot, F. (2013). Epigenomic enhancer annotation reveals a key role for NFIX in neural stem cell quiescence. Genes Dev 27, 1769-1786.

van den Berg, D.L., Snoek, T., Mullin, N.P., Yates, A., Bezstarosti, K., Demmers, J., Chambers, I., and Poot, R.A. (2010). An Oct4-centered protein interaction network in embryonic stem cells. Cell Stem Cell 6, 369-381.

van den Berg, D.L., Zhang, W., Yates, A., Engelen, E., Takacs, K., Bezstarosti, K., Demmers, J., Chambers, I., and Poot, R.A. (2008). Estrogen-related receptor beta interacts with Oct4 to positively regulate Nanog gene expression. Mol Cell Biol 28, 5986-5995.

Beekman, J.M., van der Poel, C.E., van der Linden, J.A., van den Berg, D.L., van den Berghe, P.V., van de Winkel, J.G., and Leusen, J.H. (2008). Filamin A stabilizes Fc gamma RI surface expression and prevents its lysosomal routing. J Immunol 180, 3938-3945.

Poot, R.A., Bozhenok, L., van den Berg, D.L., Hawkes, N., and Varga-Weisz, P.D. (2005). Chromatin remodeling by WSTF-ISWI at the replication site: opening a window of opportunity for epigenetic inheritance? Cell Cycle 4, 543-546.

Zwartjes, C.G., Jayne, S., van den Berg, D.L., and Timmers, H.T. (2004). Repression of promoter activity by CNOT2, a subunit of the transcription regulatory Ccr4-not complex. J Biol Chem 279, 10848-10854.

Poot, R.A.*, Bozhenok, L.*, van den Berg, D.L.*, Steffensen, S., Ferreira, F., Grimaldi, M., Gilbert, N., Ferreira, J., and Varga-Weisz, P.D. (2004). The Williams syndrome transcription factor interacts with PCNA to target chromatin remodelling by ISWI to replication foci. Nat Cell Biol 6, 1236-1244. * equal contribution 

Group members

Debbie van den Berg, group leader

Marieke Alzeer, PhD student

Kristel Eigenhuis, PhD student

Hedda Somsen, PhD student


Room 10-67