Neurobiologist working on circuitry of stress and complex social behavior.
Research Items (2)
Background: Compartment boundaries are an essential developmental mechanism throughout evolution, designated to act as organizing centers and to regulate and localize differently fated cells. The hindbrain serves as a fascinating example for this phenomenon as its early development is devoted to the formation of repetitive rhombomeres and their well-defined boundaries in all vertebrates. Yet, the actual role of hindbrain boundaries remains unresolved, especially in amniotes. Results: Here, we report that hindbrain boundaries in the chick embryo consist of a subset of cells expressing the key neural stem cell (NSC) gene Sox2. These cells co-express other neural progenitor markers such as Transitin (the avian Nestin), GFAP, Pax6 and chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan. The majority of the Sox2(+) cells that reside within the boundary core are slow-dividing, whereas nearer to and within rhombomeres Sox2(+) cells are largely proliferating. In vivo analyses and cell tracing experiments revealed the contribution of boundary Sox2(+) cells to neurons in a ventricular-to-mantle manner within the boundaries, as well as their lateral contribution to proliferating Sox2(+) cells in rhombomeres. The generation of boundary-derived neurospheres from hindbrain cultures confirmed the typical NSC behavior of boundary cells as a multipotent and self-renewing Sox2(+) cell population. Inhibition of Sox2 in boundaries led to enhanced and aberrant neural differentiation together with inhibition in cell-proliferation, whereas Sox2 mis-expression attenuated neurogenesis, confirming its significant function in hindbrain neuronal organization. Conclusions: Data obtained in this study deciphers a novel role of hindbrain boundaries as repetitive pools of neural stem/progenitor cells, which provide proliferating progenitors and differentiating neurons in a Sox2-dependent regulation.