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Publications (3)19.13 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons (mDA) and serotonergic (5-HT) neurons are clinically important ventral neuronal populations. Degeneration of mDA is associated with Parkinson's disease; defects in the serotonergic system are related to depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and schizophrenia. Although these neuronal subpopulations reveal positional and developmental relationships, the developmental cascades that govern specification and differentiation of mDA or 5-HT neurons reveal missing determinants and are not yet understood. We investigated the impact of the transcription factor Sim1 in the differentiation of mDA and rostral 5-HT neurons in vivo using Sim1-/- mouse embryos and newborn pups, and in vitro by gain- and loss-of-function approaches. We show a selective significant reduction in the number of dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) 5-HT neurons in Sim1-/- newborn mice. In contrast, 5-HT neurons of other raphe nuclei as well as dopaminergic neurons were not affected. Analysis of the underlying molecular mechanism revealed that tryptophan hydroxylase 2 (Tph2) and the transcription factor Pet1 are regulated by Sim1. Moreover, the transcription factor Lhx8 and the modulator of 5-HT(1A)-mediated neurotransmitter release, Rgs4, exhibit significant higher expression in ventral hindbrain, compared to midbrain and are target genes of Sim1. The results demonstrate for the first time a selective transcription factor dependence of the 5-HT cell groups, and introduce Sim1 as a regulator of DRN specification acting upstream of Pet1 and Tph2. Moreover, Sim1 may act to modulate serotonin release via regulating RGS4. Our study underscores that subpopulations of a common neurotransmitter phenotype use distinct combinations of transcription factors to control the expression of shared properties.
    PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(4):e19239. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The aim of the present study was to investigate the putative cooperative effects of transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) and glial cell line-derived neurotrophic factor (GDNF) family ligands in the differentiation of midbrain progenitors toward a dopaminergic phenotype. Therefore, a mouse midbrain embryonic day (E) 12 neurospheres culture was used as an experimental model. We show that neurturin and persephin (PSPN), but not GDNF, are capable of transient induction of dopaminergic neurons in vitro. This process, however, requires the presence of endogenous TGF-beta. In contrast, after 8 days in vitro GDNF rescued the TGF-beta neutralization-dependent loss of the TH-positive cells. In vivo, at E14.5, no apparent phenotype concerning dopaminergic neurons was observed in Tgf-beta2(-/-)/gdnf(-/-) double mutant mice. In vitro, combined TGF-beta/PSPN treatment achieved a yield of approximately 20% TH-positive cells that were less vulnerable against 1-methyl-4-phenyl pyridinium ion toxicity. The underlying TGF-beta/PSPN differentiation signaling is receptor-mediated, involving p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase and phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase pathways. These results indicate that phenotype induction and survival of fully differentiated neurons are accomplished through distinct pathways and individual factor requirement. TGF-beta is required for the induction of dopaminergic neurons, whereas GDNF is required for regulating and/or maintaining a differentiated neuronal phenotype. Moreover, this study suggests that the combination of TGF-beta with PSPN is a potent inductive cocktail for the generation of dopaminergic neurons that should be considered in tissue engineering and cell replacement therapies for Parkinson's disease.
    Stem Cells 05/2008; 26(7):1683-94. · 7.70 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Tissue engineering is a prerequisite for cell replacement as therapeutic strategy for degenerative diseases, such as Parkinson's disease. In the present study, we investigated regional identity of mesencephalic neural progenitors and characterized their development toward ventral mesencephalic dopaminergic neurons. We show that neural progenitors from ventral and dorsal mouse embryonic day 12 mesencephalon exhibit regional identity in vitro. Treatment of ventral midbrain dissociated neurospheres with transforming growth factor beta (TGF-beta) increased the number of Nurr1- and tyrosine hydroxylase (TH)-immunoreactive cells, which can be further increased when the spheres are treated with TGF-beta in combination with sonic hedgehog (Shh) and fibroblast growth factor 8 (FGF8). TGF-beta differentiation signaling is TGF-beta receptor-mediated, involving the Smad pathway, as well as the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase pathway. In vivo, TGF-beta2/TGF-beta3 double-knockout mouse embryos revealed significantly reduced numbers of TH labeled cells in ventral mesencephalon but not in locus coeruleus. TH reduction in Tgfbeta2(-/-)/Tgfbeta3(+/-) was higher than in Tgf-beta2(+/-)/Tgf-beta3(-/-). Most importantly, TGF-beta may ectopically induce TH-immunopositive cells in dorsal mesencephalon in vitro, in a Shh- and FGF8-independent manner. Together, the results clearly demonstrate that TGF-beta2 and TGF-beta3 are essential signals for differentiation of midbrain progenitors toward neuronal fate and dopaminergic phenotype.
    Stem Cells 10/2006; 24(9):2120-9. · 7.70 Impact Factor