Samuel Pfaff


Gene Expression Laboratory

Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator

Benjamin H. Lewis Chair

Salk Institute for Biological Studies - Publications


Bonanomi, D., Valenza, F., Chivatakarn, O., Sternfeld, M.J., Driscoll, S.P., Aslanian, A., Lettieri, K., Gullo, M., Badaloni, A., Lewcock, J.W., Hunter, T., Pfaff, S.L. (2019) p190RhoGAP Filters Competing Signals to Resolve Axon Guidance Conflicts. Neuron. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2019.02.034.

Hayashi, M., Hinckley, C.A., Driscoll S.P., Moore, N.J., Levine, A.J., Hilde, K.L., Sharma K., Pfaff, S.L. (2018) Graded Arrays of Spinal and Supraspinal V2a Interneuron Subtypes Underlie Forelimb and Hindlimb Motor Control. Neuron. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2018.01.023.

Hester, M.E., Murtha, M.J., Song, SW., Rao, M. Miranda, C.J., Meyer, K., Tian, J., Boulting, G., Schaffer, D.V., Zhu, M.X., Pfaff, S.L., Gage, F.H., Kaspar, B.K. (2011). Rapid and efficient generation of functional motor neurons from human pluripotent stem cells using gene delivered transcription factor codes. Molecular Therapy (In Press).

Bruno I.G., Karam, R., Huang, L., Bhardwaj, A., Lou, C.H., Shum, E.Y., Song, H.W., Corbett, M.A., Gifford, W.D., Gecz, J., Pfaff, S.L., Wilkinson, M.F. (2011). Identification of a MicroRNA that activates gene expression by repressing nonsense-mediated RNA decay. Mol Cell. May 20;42(4):500-510. PMID: 21596314 [PubMed - in process].

Liang, X., Song, M.R., Xu, Z., Lanuza, G.M., Liu, Y., Zhuang, T., Chen, Y., Pfaff, S.L., Evans, S.M., Sun, Y. (2011). Isl1 Is required for multiple aspects of motor neuron development. Mol Cell Neurosci. May 4. (electronically available, printed article in press, PMCID not able to be assigned at this time).

Macfarlan, T.S., Gifford, W.D., Agarwal, S., Driscoll, S., Lettieri, S., Wang, J., Andrews, S.E., Franco, F., Rosenfeld, M.G., Ren, B., and Pfaff, S.L. (2011). Endogenous retroviruses and neighboring genes are coordinately repressed by LSD1/KDM1A. Genes and Dev 25:594-607. PMID:21357675.

Bai, G., Chivatakarn, O., Bonanomi, D., Lettieri, K., Franco, L., Xia, C., Stein, E., Ma, L., Lewcock, J.W., Pfaff, S.L. (2011). Presenilin-dependent receptor processing is required for axon guidance. Cell/144(1):106-118. (PMC3034090) PMID:21215373

Qu Y., Glasco D.M., Zhou, L., Sawant, A., Ravni, A., Fritzsch, B., Damrau, C., Murdoch, J.N., Evans, S., Pfaff, S.L., Formstone, C., Goffinet, A.M., Chandrasekhar, A., and Tissir, F. (2010). Atypical cadherins Celsr1-3 differentially regulate migration of facial branchiomotor neurons in mice. J. Neurosci. 30:9392-401. PMID 20631168.

Meyer, A., Gallarda, B.W., Pfaff, S.L., and Alaynick, W.A. (2010). Spinal cord electrophysiology. J. Vis. Exp. 35: Pii.1660. doi:10.3791/1660.

Zhang, M., Liu, J., Kim, Y., Dixon, J.E., Pfaff, S.L., Gill, G.N., Noel, J.P., and Zhang, Y. (2010). Structural and functional analysis of the phosphoryl transfer reaction mediated by the human small C-terminal domain phosphatase, Scp1. Protein Sci. 19:974-86. PMID: 20222012.

Song, M.R., Sun, Y, Bryson, A., Gill, G.N., Evans, S.M., and Pfaff, S.L. (2009). Islet-to-LMO stoichiometries control the function of transcription complexes that specify motor neuron and V2a interneuron identity. Development 136(17): 2923-32. PMID: 19666821.

Pfaff, S.L. (2008). Developmental neuroscience: Hox and Fox. Nature 7211: 295-7. PMID: 18800121.

Pankratz, M.T. and Pfaff, S.L. (2008). Signaling pathways that regulate cell fate in the embryonic spinal cord. Handbook of Cell Signaling.

Song, M.R. and Pfaff, S.L. (2008) Motor neuron specification in vertebrates. In: Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. L. Squire, T. Albright, F. Bloom, F. Gage & N. Spitzer, Eds., Academic Press, Oxford

Macfarlan, T. and Pfaff, S.L. (2008) Transcriptional networks regulating cell specification within the spinal cord. In: Encyclopedia of Neuroscience. L. Squire, T. Albright, F. Bloom, F. Gage & N. Spitzer, Eds., Academic Press, Oxford

Cao, X., Pfaff, S.L., and Gage, F.H. (2008). YAP regulates neural progenitor cell number via the TEA domain transcription factor. Genes Dev. 23: 3320-34. PMID: 19015275.

Lee, S., Lee, B., Joshi, K., Pfaff, S.L., Lee, J.W., and Lee, S.-K. (2008). A regulatory network to segregate the identity of neuronal subtypes. Dev. Cell 6: 877-89. PMID: 18539116.

Ma, Y.C., Song, M.R., Park, J.P., Henry Ho, H.Y., Hu, L., Kurtev, M.V., Zieg, J., Ma, Q., Pfaff, S.L., and Greenberg, M.E. (2008). Regulation of motor neuron specification by phosphorylation of neurogenin 2. Neuron 58: 65-77. PMID: 18400164.

Gallarda, B.W., Bonanomi, D., Muller, D., Brown, A., Alaynick, W.A., Andrews, S.E., Lemke, G., Pfaff, S.L., and Marquardt, T. (2008). Segregation of axial motor and sensory pathways via heterotypic trans-axonal signaling. Science 320: 233-236. PMID: 18403711.

Ghosh, S., Marquardt, T., Thaler, J. P., Carter, N., Andrews, S. E., Pfaff, S. L., and Hunter, T. (2008). Instructive role of aPKCzeta subcellular localization in the assembly of adherens junctions in neural progenitors. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 105, 335-340.

Lewcock, J. W., Genoud, N., Lettieri, K., and Pfaff, S. L. (2007). The ubiquitin ligase Phr1 regulates axon outgrowth through modulation of microtubule dynamics. Neuron 56, 604-620.

Fox, M.A., Sanes, J.R., Borza, D.B., Eswarakumar, V.P., Fassler, R., Hudson, B.G., John, S.W., Ninomiya, Y., Pedchenko, V., Pfaff, S.L., Rheault, M.N., Sado, Y., Segal, Y., Werle, M.J., and Umemori, H. (2007). Distinct target-derived signals organize formation, maturation, and maintenance of motor nerve terminals. Cell 129: 179-93.

Peng, C.Y., Yajima, H., Burns, C.E., Zon, L.I., Sisodia, S.S., Pfaff, S.L., and Sharma, K. (2007). Notch and MAML signaling drives Scl-dependent interneuron diversity in the spinal cord. Neuron 53: 813-27.

Cao, X., Pfaff, S.L., and Gage, F.H. (2007). A functional study of miR-124 in the developing neural tube. Genes and Dev. 21: 531-6.

Odani, N., Pfaff, S.L., Nakamura, H., and Funahashi, J. (2007). Cloning and developmental expression of a chick G-protein-coupled receptor SCGPR1. Gene Expr. Patterns 7: 375-80.

Kashani, A. H., Qiu, Z., Jurata, L., Lee, S. K., Pfaff, S., Goebbels, S., Nave, K. A., and Ghosh, A. (2006). Calcium activation of the LMO4 transcription complex and its role in the patterning of thalamocortical connections. J Neurosci 26, 8398-8408.

Zhang, Y., Kim, Y., Genoud, N., Gao, J., Kelly, J.W., Pfaff, S.L., Gill, G.N., Dixon, J.E., and Noel, J.P. (2006). Determinants for dephosphorylation of the RNA polymerase II C-terminal domain by Scp1. Mol. Cell 24: 759-70.

Shirasaki R., Lewcock J.W., Lettieri K., Pfaff S.L. FGF as a target-derived chemoattractant for developing motor axons genetically programmed by the LIM code. Neuron. 2006 Jun 15;50(6):841-53.

Song M.R., and Pfaff S.L. (2005). Hox genes: the instructors working at motor pools. Cell 123: 363-5.

Myers C.P., Lewcock J.W., Hanson M.G., Gosgnach S., Aimone J.B., Gage F.H., Lee K.F., Landmesser L.T., Pfaff S.L. Cholinergic input is required during embryonic development to mediate proper assembly of spinal locomotor circuits. Neuron. 2005 Apr 7;46(1):37-49.

Marquardt T., Shirasaki R., Ghosh S., Andrews S.E., Carter N., Hunter T., Pfaff S.L. Coexpressed EphA receptors and ephrin-A ligands mediate opposing actions on growth cone navigation from distinct membrane domains. Cell. 2005 Apr 8;121(1):127-39.

Yeo M., Lee S.K., Lee B., Ruiz E.C., Pfaff S.L., Gill G.N. Small CTD phosphatases function in silencing neuronal gene expression. Science. 2005 Jan 28;307(5709):596-600.

Thaler J.P., Koo S.J., Kania A., Lettieri K., Andrews S., Cox C., Jessell T.M., Pfaff S.L. A postmitotic role for Isl-class LIM homeodomain proteins in the assignment of visceral spinal motor neuron identity. Neuron. 2004 Feb 5;41(3):337-50.

Lee S-K., Pfaff S.L. Synchronization of neurogenesis and motor neuron specification by direct coupling of bHLH and homeodomain transcription factors. Neuron. 2003 Jun 5;38(5):731-45.

Thaler, J.P., Lee, S-K., Jurata, L.W., Gill, G.N., Pfaff, S.L. (2002). LIM Factor Lhx3 contributes to the specification of motor neuron and interneuron identity through cell-type-specific protein-protein interactions. Cell 110: 237-249.

Sharma, K., Leonard, A.E., Lettieri, K., and Pfaff, S.L. (2000). Genetic and epigenetic mechanisms contribute to motor neuron pathfinding. Nature 406: 515-519.

Brown, A., Yates, P.A., Burrola, P., Ortu-o, D., Vaidya, A., Jessell, T.M., Pfaff, S.L., O'Leary, D.D.M., and Lemke, G. (2000). Topographic mapping from the retina to the midbrain is controlled by relative but not absolute levels of EphA receptor signaling. Cell 102:77-88.


Undergraduate degree, Carleton College in Minnesota
PhD, Molecular Biology, UC Berkeley
Postdoctoral Fellow, Vanderbilt University and the Center for Neurobiology at Columbia University

Awards & Honors

  • 2008 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
  • 2007 Javits Neuroscience Investigator Award
  • McKnight Scholar
  • Basil O'Connor Award
  • Pew Scholar