[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A transcriptional programme initiated by the proneural factors Neurog2 and Ascl1 controls successive steps of neurogenesis in the embryonic cerebral cortex. Previous work has shown that proneural factors also confer a migratory behaviour to cortical neurons by inducing the expression of the small GTP-binding proteins such as Rnd2 and Rnd3. However, the directionality of radial migration suggests that migrating neurons also respond to extracellular signal-regulated pathways. Here we show that the Plexin B2 receptor interacts physically and functionally with Rnd3 and stimulates RhoA activity in migrating cortical neurons. Plexin B2 competes with p190RhoGAP for binding to Rnd3, thus blocking the Rnd3-mediated inhibition of RhoA and also recruits RhoGEFs to directly stimulate RhoA activity. Thus, an interaction between the cell-extrinsic Plexin signalling pathway and the cell-intrinsic Ascl1-Rnd3 pathway determines the level of RhoA activity appropriate for cortical neuron migration.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In utero electroporation is a rapid and powerful technique to study the development of many brain regions. This approach presents several advantages over other methods to study specific steps of brain development in vivo, from proliferation to synaptic integration. Here, we describe in detail the individual steps necessary to carry out the technique. We also highlight the variations that can be implemented to target different cerebral structures and to study specific steps of development.
Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.) 01/2014; 1082:285-93.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Direct lineage reprogramming is a promising approach for human disease modeling and regenerative medicine, with poorly understood mechanisms. Here, we reveal a hierarchical mechanism in the direct conversion of fibroblasts into induced neuronal (iN) cells mediated by the transcription factors Ascl1, Brn2, and Myt1l. Ascl1 acts as an "on-target" pioneer factor by immediately occupying most cognate genomic sites in fibroblasts. In contrast, Brn2 and Myt1l do not access fibroblast chromatin productively on their own; instead, Ascl1 recruits Brn2 to Ascl1 sites genome wide. A unique trivalent chromatin signature in the host cells predicts the permissiveness for Ascl1 pioneering activity among different cell types. Finally, we identified Zfp238 as a key Ascl1 target gene that can partially substitute for Ascl1 during iN cell reprogramming. Thus, a precise match between pioneer factors and the chromatin context at key target genes is determinative for transdifferentiation to neurons and likely other cell types.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The zinc finger transcription factor RP58 (also known as ZNF238) regulates neurogenesis of the mouse neocortex and cerebellum (Okado et al. 2009; Xiang et al. 2011; Baubet et al. 2012; Ohtaka-Maruyama et al. 2013), but its mechanism of action remains unclear. In this study, we report a cell-autonomous function for RP58 during the differentiation of embryonic cortical projection neurons via its activities as a transcriptional repressor. Disruption of RP58 expression alters the differentiation of immature neurons and impairs their migration and positioning within the mouse cerebral cortex. Loss of RP58 within the embryonic cortex also leads to elevated mRNA for Rnd2, a member of the Rnd family of atypical RhoA-like GTPase proteins important for cortical neuron migration (Heng et al. 2008). Mechanistically, RP58 represses transcription of Rnd2 via binding to a 3'-regulatory enhancer in a sequence-specific fashion. Using reporter assays, we found that RP58 repression of Rnd2 is competed by proneural basic helix-loop-helix transcriptional activators. Finally, our rescue experiments revealed that negative regulation of Rnd2 by RP58 was important for cortical cell migration in vivo. Taken together, these studies demonstrate that RP58 is a key player in the transcriptional control of cell migration in the developing cerebral cortex.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The majority of neural stem cells (NSCs) in the adult brain are quiescent, and this fraction increases with aging. Although signaling pathways that promote NSC quiescence have been identified, the transcriptional mechanisms involved are mostly unknown, largely due to lack of a cell culture model. In this study, we first demonstrate that NSC cultures (NS cells) exposed to BMP4 acquire cellular and transcriptional characteristics of quiescent cells. We then use epigenomic profiling to identify enhancers associated with the quiescent NS cell state. Motif enrichment analysis of these enhancers predicts a major role for the nuclear factor one (NFI) family in the gene regulatory network controlling NS cell quiescence. Interestingly, we found that the family member NFIX is robustly induced when NS cells enter quiescence. Using genome-wide location analysis and overexpression and silencing experiments, we demonstrate that NFIX has a major role in the induction of quiescence in cultured NSCs. Transcript profiling of NS cells overexpressing or silenced for Nfix and the phenotypic analysis of the hippocampus of Nfix mutant mice suggest that NFIX controls the quiescent state by regulating the interactions of NSCs with their microenvironment.
Genes & development 08/2013; 27(16):1769-86. · 12.08 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: FOXO transcription factors are central regulators of longevity from worms to humans. FOXO3, the FOXO isoform associated with exceptional human longevity, preserves adult neural stem cell pools. Here, we identify FOXO3 direct targets genome-wide in primary cultures of adult neural progenitor cells (NPCs). Interestingly, FOXO3-bound sites are enriched for motifs for bHLH transcription factors, and FOXO3 shares common targets with the proneuronal bHLH transcription factor ASCL1/MASH1 in NPCs. Analysis of the chromatin landscape reveals that FOXO3 and ASCL1 are particularly enriched at the enhancers of genes involved in neurogenic pathways. Intriguingly, FOXO3 inhibits ASCL1-dependent neurogenesis in NPCs and direct neuronal conversion in fibroblasts. FOXO3 also restrains neurogenesis in vivo. Our study identifies a genome-wide interaction between the prolongevity transcription factor FOXO3 and the cell-fate determinant ASCL1 and raises the possibility that FOXO3's ability to restrain ASCL1-dependent neurogenesis may help preserve the neural stem cell pool.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mechanisms governing the expansion of neuron number in specific brain regions are still poorly understood. Enlarged neuron numbers in different species are often anticipated by increased numbers of progenitors dividing in the subventricular zone. Here we present live imaging analysis of radial glial cells and their progeny in the ventral telencephalon, the region with the largest subventricular zone in the murine brain during neurogenesis. We observe lineage amplification by a new type of progenitor, including bipolar radial glial cells dividing at subapical positions and generating further proliferating progeny. The frequency of this new type of progenitor is increased not only in larger clones of the mouse lateral ganglionic eminence but also in cerebral cortices of gyrated species, and upon inducing gyrification in the murine cerebral cortex. This implies key roles of this new type of radial glia in ontogeny and phylogeny.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Oligodendrocytes are the myelin-forming cells of the CNS. They differentiate from oligodendrocyte precursor cells (OPCs) that are produced from progenitors throughout life but more actively during the neonatal period and in response to demyelinating insults. An accurate regulation of oligodendrogenesis is required to generate oligodendrocytes during these developmental or repair processes. We hypothesized that this regulation implicates transcription factors, which are expressed by OPCs and/or their progenitors. Ascl1/Mash1 is a proneural transcription factor previously implicated in embryonic oligodendrogenesis and operating in genetic interaction with Olig2, an essential transcriptional regulator in oligodendrocyte development. Herein, we have investigated the contribution of Ascl1 to oligodendrocyte development and remyelination in the postnatal cortex. During the neonatal period, Ascl1 expression was detected in progenitors of the cortical subventricular zone and in cortical OPCs. Different genetic approaches to delete Ascl1 in cortical progenitors or OPCs reduced neonatal oligodendrogenesis, showing that Ascl1 positively regulated both OPC specification from subventricular zone progenitors as well as the balance between OPC differentiation and proliferation. Examination of remyelination processes, both in the mouse model for focal demyelination of the corpus callosum and in multiple sclerosis lesions in humans, indicated that Ascl1 activity was upregulated along with increased oligodendrogenesis observed in remyelinating lesions. Additional genetic evidence indicated that remyelinating oligodendrocytes derived from Ascl1(+) progenitors/OPCs and that Ascl1 was required for proper remyelination. Together, our results show that Ascl1 function modulates multiple steps of OPC development in the postnatal brain and in response to demyelinating insults.
Journal of Neuroscience 06/2013; 33(23):9752-9768. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: We aimed to identify cis-regulatory elements that control gene expression in progenitors of the cerebral cortex. A list of 975 putative enhancers were retrieved from a ChIP-Seq experiment performed in NS5 mouse stem cells with antibodies to Sox2, Brn2/Pou3f2, or Brn1/Pou3f3. Through a selection pipeline including gene ontology and expression pattern, we reduced the number of candidate enhancer sequences to 20. Ex vivo electroporation of green fluorescent pProtein (GFP) reporter constructs in the telencephalon of mouse embryos showed that 35% of the 20 selected candidate sequences displayed enhancer activity in the developing cortex at E13.5. In silico transcription factor binding site (TFBS) searches and mutagenesis experiments showed that enhancer activity is related to the presence of Sox/Pou TFBS pairs in the sequence. Comparative genomic analyses showed that enhancer activity is not related to the evolutionary conservation of the sequence. Finally, the combination of in utero electroporation of GFP reporter constructs with immunostaining for Tbr2 (basal progenitor marker) and phospho-histoneH3 (mitotic activity marker) demonstrated that each enhancer is specifically active in precise subpopulations of progenitors in the cortical germinal zone, highlighting the heterogeneity of these progenitors in terms of cis-regulation.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Accurately characterizing transcription factor (TF)-DNA affinity is a central goal of regulatory genomics. Although thermodynamics provides the most natural language for describing the continuous range of TF-DNA affinity, traditional motif discovery algorithms focus instead on classification paradigms that aim to discriminate 'bound' and 'unbound' sequences. Moreover, these algorithms do not directly model the distribution of tags in ChIP-seq data. Here, we present a new algorithm named Thermodynamic Modeling of ChIP-seq (TherMos), which directly estimates a position-specific binding energy matrix (PSEM) from ChIP-seq/exo tag profiles. In cross-validation tests on seven genome-wide TF-DNA binding profiles, one of which we generated via ChIP-seq on a complex developing tissue, TherMos predicted quantitative TF-DNA binding with greater accuracy than five well-known algorithms. We experimentally validated TherMos binding energy models for Klf4 and Esrrb, using a novel protocol to measure PSEMs in vitro. Strikingly, our measurements revealed strong non-additivity at multiple positions within the two PSEMs. Among the algorithms tested, only TherMos was able to model the entire binding energy landscape of Klf4 and Esrrb. Our study reveals new insights into the energetics of TF-DNA binding in vivo and provides an accurate first-principles approach to binding energy inference from ChIP-seq and ChIP-exo data.
Nucleic Acids Research 04/2013; · 8.28 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The generation of neurons by neural stem cells is a highly choreographed process that requires extensive and dynamic remodelling of the cytoskeleton at each step of the process. The atypical RhoGTPase Rnd3 is expressed by progenitors in the embryonic brain but its role in early steps of neurogenesis has not been addressed. Here we show that silencing Rnd3 in the embryonic cerebral cortex interferes with the interkinetic nuclear migration of radial glial stem cells, disrupts their apical attachment and modifies the orientation of their cleavage plane. These defects are rescued by co-expression of a constitutively active form of cofilin, demonstrating that Rnd3-mediated disassembly of actin filaments coordinates the cellular behaviour of radial glial. Rnd3 also limits the divisions of basal progenitors via a distinct mechanism involving the suppression of cyclin D1 translation. Interestingly, although Rnd3 expression is controlled transcriptionally by Ascl1, this proneural factor is itself required in radial glial progenitors only for proper orientation of cell divisions.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Down Syndrome (DS) is a highly prevalent developmental disorder, affecting 1/700 births. Intellectual disability, which affects learning and memory, is present in all cases and is reflected by below average IQ. We sought to determine whether defective morphology and connectivity in neurons of the cerebral cortex may underlie the cognitive deficits that have been described in two mouse models of DS, the Tc1 and Ts1Rhr mouse lines. We utilised in utero electroporation to label a cohort of future upper layer projection neurons in the cerebral cortex of developing mouse embryos with GFP, and then examined neuronal positioning and morphology in early adulthood, which revealed no alterations in cortical layer position or morphology in either Tc1 or Ts1Rhr mouse cortex. The number of dendrites, as well as dendrite length and branching was normal in both DS models, compared with wildtype controls. The sites of projection neuron synaptic inputs, dendritic spines, were analysed in Tc1 and Ts1Rhr cortex at three weeks and three months after birth, and significant changes in spine morphology were observed in both mouse lines. Ts1Rhr mice had significantly fewer thin spines at three weeks of age. At three months of age Tc1 mice had significantly fewer mushroom spines - the morphology associated with established synaptic inputs and learning and memory. The decrease in mushroom spines was accompanied by a significant increase in the number of stubby spines. This data suggests that dendritic spine abnormalities may be a more important contributor to cognitive deficits in DS models, rather than overall neuronal architecture defects.
PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(10):e78561. · 3.73 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The generation and specification of pyramidal neuron subpopulations during development relies on a complex network of transcription factors. The CB(1) cannabinoid receptor is the major molecular target of endocannabinoids and marijuana active compounds. This receptor has been shown to influence neural progenitor proliferation and axonal growth, but its involvement in neuronal differentiation and the functional impact in the adulthood caused by altering its signaling during brain development are not known. Here we show that the CB(1) receptor, by preventing Satb2 (special AT-rich binding protein 2)-mediated repression, increased Ctip2 (COUP-TF interacting protein 2) promoter activity, and Ctip2-positive neuron generation. Unbalanced neurogenic fate determination found in complete CB(1)(-/-) mice and in glutamatergic neuron-specific Nex-CB(1)(-/-) mice induced overt alterations in corticospinal motor neuron generation and subcerebral connectivity, thereby resulting in an impairment of skilled motor function in adult mice. Likewise, genetic deletion of CB(1) receptors in Thy1-YFP-H mice elicited alterations in corticospinal tract development. Altogether, these data demonstrate that the CB(1) receptor contributes to the generation of deep-layer cortical neurons by coupling endocannabinoid signals from the neurogenic niche to the intrinsic proneurogenic Ctip2/Satb2 axis, thus influencing appropriate subcerebral projection neuron specification and corticospinal motor function in the adulthood.
Journal of Neuroscience 11/2012; 32(47):16651-16665. · 6.91 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: By serving as the sole output of the cerebellar cortex, integrating a myriad of afferent stimuli, Purkinje cells (PCs) constitute the principal neuron in cerebellar circuits. Several neurodegenerative cerebellar ataxias feature a selective cell-autonomous loss of PCs, warranting the development of regenerative strategies. To date, very little is known as to the regulatory cascades controlling PC development. During central nervous system development, the proneural gene neurogenin 2 (Neurog2) contributes to many distinct neuronal types by specifying their fate and/or dictating development of their morphological features. By analyzing a mouse knock-in line expressing Cre recombinase under the control of Neurog2 cis-acting sequences we show that, in the cerebellar primordium, Neurog2 is expressed by cycling progenitors cell-autonomously fated to become PCs, even when transplanted heterochronically. During cerebellar development, Neurog2 is expressed in G1 phase by progenitors poised to exit the cell cycle. We demonstrate that, in the absence of Neurog2, both cell-cycle progression and neuronal output are significantly affected, leading to an overall reduction of the mature cerebellar volume. Although PC fate identity is correctly specified, the maturation of their dendritic arbor is severely affected in the absence of Neurog2, as null PCs develop stunted and poorly branched dendrites, a defect evident from the early stages of dendritogenesis. Thus, Neurog2 represents a key regulator of PC development and maturation.
Development 07/2012; 139(13):2308-20. · 6.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A crucial event in the birth of a neuron is the detachment of its apical process from the neuroepithelium. In this issue of Neuron, Rousso et al. (2012) show that repression of N-cadherin by Foxp transcription factors disrupts apical adherens junctions and triggers neurogenesis.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The capacity of neurons to develop a long axon and multiple dendrites defines neuron connectivity in the CNS. The highly conserved microRNA-9 (miR-9) is expressed in both neuronal precursors and some post-mitotic neurons, and we detected miR-9 expression in the axons of primary cortical neurons. We found that miR-9 controlled axonal extension and branching by regulating the levels of Map1b, an important protein for microtubule stability. Following microfluidic separation of the axon and the soma, we found that miR-9 repressed Map1b translation and was a functional target for the BDNF-dependent control of axon extension and branching. We propose that miR-9 links regulatory signaling processes with dynamic translation mechanisms, controlling Map1b protein levels and axon development.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neurogenin 2 (Ngn2) controls neuronal differentiation cell-autonomously by transcriptional activation of targets such as NeuroD, while simultaneously controlling progenitor maintenance non-cell-autonomously by upregulating Delta expression and Notch signalling. Reduction in Cdk-dependent multisite phosphorylation of Ngn2 enhances its promoter binding affinity. This leads specifically to an increase in neuronal differentiation without an apparent increase in progenitor maintenance via Delta-Notch signalling, although the mechanism underlying this imbalance remains unclear. Here we show in Xenopus embryos and mouse P19 cells that the NeuroD promoter is substantially more sensitive to the phosphorylation status of Ngn2 than the Delta promoter, and that this can be attributed to differences in the ease of promoter activation. In addition, we also show that the phosphorylation status of Ngn2 regulates sensitivity to Notch signalling. These observations explain how Ngn2 post-translational modification in response to changes in the cell cycle kinase environment results in enhanced neuronal differentiation upon cell cycle lengthening.
Development 04/2012; 139(10):1718-23. · 6.60 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: This article has been withdrawn at the request of the author(s) and/or editor. The Publisher apologizes for any inconvenience this may cause. The full Elsevier Policy on Article Withdrawal can be found at http://www.elsevier.com/locate/withdrawalpolicy.
International journal of developmental neuroscience: the official journal of the International Society for Developmental Neuroscience 03/2012; · 2.03 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mammalian nervous system is the most complex organ of any living organism. How this complexity is generated during neural development is just beginning to be elucidated. This article discusses the signaling, transcriptional, and epigenetic mechanisms that are involved in neural development. The first part focuses on molecules that control neuronal numbers through regulation of the timing of onset of neurogenesis, the timing of the neuronal-to-glial switch, and the rate of progenitor proliferation. The second part focuses on molecules that control neuronal diversity by generating spatially or temporally distinct populations of neuronal progenitors. Most of the studies discussed in this article are focused on the developing mammalian cerebral cortex, because this is one of the main model systems for neural developmental studies and many of the mechanisms identified in this tissue also operate elsewhere in the developing brain and spinal cord.
Cold Spring Harbor perspectives in biology 01/2012; 4(10). · 9.63 Impact Factor