Spatial and temporal requirements for sonic hedgehog in the regulation of thalamic interneuron identity
ABSTRACT 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.
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ABSTRACT: Coordinated gene expression controlled by long-distance enhancers is orchestrated by DNA regulatory sequences involving transcription factors and layers of control mechanisms. The Shh gene and well-established regulators are an example of genomic composition in which enhancers reside in a large desert extending into neighbouring genes to control the spatiotemporal pattern of expression. Exploiting the local hopping activity of the Sleeping Beauty transposon, the lacZ reporter gene was dispersed throughout the Shh region to systematically map the genomic features responsible for expression activity. We found that enhancer activities are retained inside a genomic region that corresponds to the topological associated domain (TAD) defined by Hi-C. This domain of approximately 900 kb is in an open conformation over its length and is generally susceptible to all Shh enhancers. Similar to the distal enhancers, an enhancer residing within the Shh second intron activates the reporter gene located at distances of hundreds of kilobases away, suggesting that both proximal and distal enhancers have the capacity to survey the Shh topological domain to recognise potential promoters. The widely expressed Rnf32 gene lying within the Shh domain evades enhancer activities by a process that may be common among other housekeeping genes that reside in large regulatory domains. Finally, the boundaries of the Shh TAD do not represent the absolute expression limits of enhancer activity, as expression activity is lost stepwise at a number of genomic positions at the verges of these domains.Development 09/2014; 141(20). DOI:10.1242/dev.108480 · 6.27 Impact Factor
Dataset: Golding et al 2014
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ABSTRACT: The mammalian thalamus is an essential diencephalic derivative that plays unique roles in processing and relaying sensory and motor information to and from the cerebral cortex. The profile of transcription factors and lineage tracing experiments revealed a spatiotemporal relationship between diencephalic progenitor domains and discrete differentiated neurons contributing to thalamic nuclei. However, the precise molecular mechanisms by which heterogeneous thalamic neurons become specified and assemble into distinct thalamic nuclei are still poorly understood. Here, we show that a combinatorial interaction between the bHLH transcription factors Ascl1 and Helt is required for acquiring thalamic progenitor identity. Surprisingly, in the combined absence of Ascl1 and Helt, rostral thalamic progenitors (TH-R) adopt a molecular profile of a more rostral diencephalic derivative, the prethalamus. Furthermore, we show that the prethalamic factors Dlxs upregulated by Ascl1/Helt deficiency play unique roles in regulating thalamic progenitor specification, and that derepression of Dlx2 and Dlx5 suppress generation of TH-R neurons. Taken together, our results suggest a model whereby the combined activity of two distinct bHLH factors plays a key role in the development of discrete classes of thalamic interneurons. Copyright © 2014. Published by Elsevier Inc.Developmental Biology 12/2014; 398(2). DOI:10.1016/j.ydbio.2014.12.003 · 3.64 Impact Factor