In caudal regions of the diencephalon, sonic hedgehog (Shh) is expressed in the ventral midline of prosomeres 1-3 (p1-p3), which underlie the pretectum, thalamus and prethalamus, respectively. Shh is also expressed in the zona limitans intrathalamica (zli), a dorsally projecting spike that forms at the p2-p3 boundary. The presence of two Shh signaling centers in the thalamus has made it difficult to determine the specific roles of either one in regional patterning and neuronal fate specification. To investigate the requirement of Shh from a focal source of expression in the ventral midline of the diencephalon, we used a newly generated mouse line carrying a targeted deletion of the 525 bp intronic sequence mediating Shh brain enhancer-1 (SBE1) activity. In SBE1 mutant mice, Shh transcription was initiated but not maintained in the ventral midline of the rostral midbrain and caudal diencephalon, yet expression in the zli was unaffected. In the absence of ventral midline Shh, rostral thalamic progenitors (pTH-R) adopted the molecular profile of a more caudal thalamic subtype (pTH-C). Surprisingly, despite their early mis-specification, neurons derived from the pTH-R domain continued to migrate to their proper thalamic nucleus, extended axons along their normal trajectory and expressed some, but not all, of their terminal differentiation markers. Our results, and those of others, suggest a model whereby Shh signaling from distinct spatial and temporal domains in the diencephalon exhibits unique and overlapping functions in the development of discrete classes of thalamic interneurons.
"Indeed, the observed diencephalic phenotype of Fgf15 mutants may represent a local phenocopy of the Shh signal abolition in the ZLI (Vieira and Martinez 2006; Vue et al. 2009; Jeong et al. 2011), as well as in the described results in mutants of Shh downstream genes, such Nkx2.2 knockout (Jeong et al. 2011). Finally, it is important to note that diencephalic Fgf15 signal seems to operate through maintenance and up-regulation of FgfR3 gene expression in the prethalamus, suggesting a predominant signal effect at the limiting cells where Fgf15 signal is strongest and the expression of Fgfr3 is highest. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The establishment of the brain structural complexity requires a precisely orchestrated interplay between extrinsic and intrinsic signals modulating cellular mechanisms to guide neuronal differentiation. However, little is known about the nature of these signals in the diencephalon, a complex brain region that processes and relays sensory and motor information to and from the cerebral cortex and subcortical structures. Morphogenetic signals from brain organizers regulate histogenetic processes such as cellular proliferation, migration, and differentiation. Sonic hedgehog (Shh) in the key signal of the ZLI, identified as the diencephalic organizer. Fgf15, the mouse gene orthologous of human, chick, and zebrafish Fgf19, is induced by Shh signal and expressed in the diencephalic alar plate progenitors during histogenetic developmental stages. This work investigates the role of Fgf15 signal in diencephalic development. In the absence of Fgf15, the complementary expression pattern of proneural genes: Ascl1 and Nng2, is disrupted and the GABAergic thalamic cells do not differentiate; in addition dorsal thalamic progenitors failed to exit from the mitotic cycle and to differentiate into neurons. Therefore, our findings indicate that Fgf15 is the Shh downstream signal to control thalamic regionalization, neurogenesis, and neuronal differentiation by regulating the expression and mutual segregation of neurogenic and proneural regulatory genes.
Brain Structure and Function 08/2015; DOI:10.1007/s00429-015-1089-5 · 5.62 Impact Factor
"Acquisition of cell lineage identity in the developing thalamus is regulated by the activity of a local organizer, the zona limitans intrathalamica (zli) acting via secretion of the morphogen molecules Shh, Wnts and FGFs [8-12]. Our and other groups have shown that different developmentally regulated transcription factors are induced by zli signaling on both sides of the organizer [8-10,12-17]. We have recently reported that in the pTh the pro-GABAergic transcription factors Dlx1/2, which are required for development of the TRN , suppress the rTh nonTRN GABA differentiation programme . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background
The thalamus is often defined as the ‘gateway to consciousness’, a feature that is supported by the specific connectivity and electrophysiological properties of its neurons. Inhibitory GABAergic neurons are required for the dynamic gating of information passing through the thalamus. The high degree of heterogeneity among thalamic GABA neurons suggests that, during embryonic development, alternative differentiation programmes exist to guide the acquisition of inhibitory neuron subtype identity.
Taking advantage of the accessibility of the developing chick embryo, we have used in ovo manipulations of gene expression to test the role of candidate transcription factors in controlling GABAergic neuronal subtype identity in the developing thalamus.
In this study, we describe two alternative differentiation programmes for GABAergic neurogenesis in the thalamus and identify Helt and Dlx2 as key transcription factors that are sufficient to direct neuronal progenitors along a specific differentiation pathway at the expense of alternative lineage choices. Furthermore, we identify Calb2, a gene encoding for the GABA subtype marker calretinin as a target of the transcription factor Sox14. This work is a step forward in our understanding of how GABA neuron diversity in the thalamus is achieved during development and will help future investigation of the molecular mechanisms that lead up to the acquisition of different synaptic targets and electrophysiological features of mature thalamic inhibitory neurons.
Neural Development 06/2014; 9(1):14. DOI:10.1186/1749-8104-9-14 · 3.45 Impact Factor
"We next investigated whether Pax6 was required for the establishment of Shh expression in the ZLI. Shh is broadly expressed in the basal plate of the future diencephalon as early as E8.5
. A wedge-shaped Shh+ domain corresponding to the prospective ZLI was detected in wildtype embryos at E10.5 but not at E9.5 (Figure
6I and data not shown). "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The habenula and the thalamus are two critical nodes in the forebrain circuitry and they connect the midbrain and the cerebral cortex in vertebrates. The habenula is derived from the epithalamus and rests dorsally to the thalamus. Both epithalamus and thalamus arise from a single diencephalon segment called prosomere (p)2. Shh is expressed in the ventral midline of the neural tube and in the mid-diencephalic organizer (MDO) at the zona limitans intrathalamica between thalamus and prethalamus. Acting as a morphogen, Shh plays an important role in regulating cell proliferation and survival in the diencephalon and thalamic patterning. The molecular regulation of the MDO Shh expression and the potential role of Shh in development of the habenula remain largely unclear.
We show that deleting paired-box and homeobox-containing gene Pax6 results in precocious and expanded expression of Shh in the prospective MDO in fish and mouse, whereas gain-of-function of pax6 inhibits MDO shh expression in fish. Using gene expression and genetic fate mapping, we have characterized the expression of molecular markers that demarcate the progenitors and precursors of habenular neurons. We show that the thalamic domain is shifted dorsally and the epithalamus is missing in the alar plate of p2 in Pax6 mutant mouse. Conversely, the epithalamus is expanded ventrally at the expanse of the thalamus in mouse embryos with reduced Shh activity. Significantly, attenuating Shh signaling largely rescues the patterning of p2 and restores the epithalamus in Pax6 mouse mutants, suggesting that Shh acts downstream of Pax6 in controlling the formation of the habenula. Similar to that found in the mouse, we show that pax6 controls the formation of the epithalamus mostly via the regulation of MDO shh expression in zebrafish.
Our findings demonstrate that Pax6 has an evolutionarily conserved function in establishing the temporospatial expression of Shh in the MDO in vertebrates. Furthermore, Shh mediates Pax6 function in regulating the partition of the p2 domain into the epithalamus and thalamus.
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