Notch signaling regulates neural precursor allocation and binary neuronal fate decisions in zebrafish
ABSTRACT Notch signaling plays a well-described role in regulating the formation of neurons from proliferative neural precursors in vertebrates but whether, as in flies, it also specifies sibling cells for different neuronal fates is not known. Ventral spinal cord precursors called pMN cells produce mostly motoneurons and oligodendrocytes, but recent lineage-marking experiments reveal that they also make astrocytes, ependymal cells and interneurons. Our own clonal analysis of pMN cells in zebrafish showed that some produce a primary motoneuron and KA' interneuron at their final division. We investigated the possibility that Notch signaling regulates a motoneuron-interneuron fate decision using a combination of mutant, transgenic and pharmacological manipulations of Notch activity. We show that continuous absence of Notch activity produces excess primary motoneurons and a deficit of KA' interneurons, whereas transient inactivation preceding neurogenesis results in an excess of both cell types. By contrast, activation of Notch signaling at the neural plate stage produces excess KA' interneurons and a deficit of primary motoneurons. Furthermore, individual pMN cells produce similar kinds of neurons at their final division in mib mutant embryos, which lack Notch signaling. These data provide evidence that, among some postmitotic daughters of pMN cells, Notch promotes KA' interneuron identity and inhibits primary motoneuron fate, raising the possibility that Notch signaling diversifies vertebrate neuron type by mediating similar binary fate decisions.
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ABSTRACT: How does left-right asymmetry develop in the brain and how does the resultant asymmetric circuitry impact on brain function and lateralized behaviors? By enabling scientists to address these questions at the levels of genes, neurons, circuitry and behavior,the zebrafish model system provides a route to resolve the complexity of brain lateralization. In this review, we present the progress made towards characterizing the nature of the gene networks and the sequence of morphogenetic events involved in the asymmetric development of zebrafish epithalamus. In an attempt to integrate the recent extensive knowledge into a working model and to identify the future challenges,we discuss how insights gained at a cellular/developmental level can be linked to the data obtained at a molecular/genetic level. Finally, we present some evolutionary thoughts and discuss how significant discoveries made in zebrafish should provide entry points to better understand the evolutionary origins of brain lateralization.Developmental Neurobiology 03/2012; 72(3):269-81. DOI:10.1002/dneu.20885 · 4.19 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Adult neurogenesis is a widespread trait of vertebrates; however, the degree of this ability and the underlying activity of the adult neural stem cells differ vastly among species. In contrast to mammals that have limited neurogenesis in their adult brains,zebrafish can constitutively produce new neurons along the whole rostrocaudal brain axis throughout its life.This feature of adult zebrafish brain relies on the presence of stem/progenitor cells that continuously proliferate,and the permissive environment of zebrafish brain for neurogenesis. Zebrafish has also an extensive regenerative capacity, which manifests itself in responding to central nervous system injuries by producing new neurons to replenish the lost ones. This ability makes zebrafish a useful model organism for understanding the stem cell activity in the brain, and the molecular programs required for central nervous system regeneration.In this review, we will discuss the current knowledge on the stem cell niches, the characteristics of the stem/progenitor cells, how they are regulated and their involvement in the regeneration response of the adult zebrafish brain. We will also emphasize the open questions that may help guide the future research.Developmental Neurobiology 03/2012; 72(3):429-61. DOI:10.1002/dneu.20918 · 4.19 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Generating diverse neurons in the central nervous system involves three major steps. First, heterogeneous neural progenitors are specified by positional cues at early embryonic stages. Second, neural progenitors sequentially produce neurons or intermediate precursors that acquire different temporal identities based on their birth-order. Third, sister neurons produced during asymmetrical terminal mitoses are given distinct fates. Determining the molecular mechanisms underlying each of these three steps of cellular diversification will unravel brain development and evolution. Drosophila has a relatively simple and tractable CNS, and previous studies on Drosophila CNS development have greatly advanced our understanding of neuron fate specification. Here we review those studies and discuss how the lessons we have learned from fly teach us the process of neuronal diversification in general.Developmental Dynamics 01/2012; 241(1):57-68. DOI:10.1002/dvdy.22739 · 2.67 Impact Factor