Developmental Transcriptional Networks Are Required to Maintain Neuronal Subtype Identity in the Mature Nervous System

Department of Cellular and Physiological Sciences, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada.
PLoS Genetics (Impact Factor: 7.53). 02/2012; 8(2):e1002501. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1002501
Source: PubMed


During neurogenesis, transcription factors combinatorially specify neuronal fates and then differentiate subtype identities by inducing subtype-specific gene expression profiles. But how is neuronal subtype identity maintained in mature neurons? Modeling this question in two Drosophila neuronal subtypes (Tv1 and Tv4), we test whether the subtype transcription factor networks that direct differentiation during development are required persistently for long-term maintenance of subtype identity. By conditional transcription factor knockdown in adult Tv neurons after normal development, we find that most transcription factors within the Tv1/Tv4 subtype transcription networks are indeed required to maintain Tv1/Tv4 subtype-specific gene expression in adults. Thus, gene expression profiles are not simply "locked-in," but must be actively maintained by persistent developmental transcription factor networks. We also examined the cross-regulatory relationships between all transcription factors that persisted in adult Tv1/Tv4 neurons. We show that certain critical cross-regulatory relationships that had existed between these transcription factors during development were no longer present in the mature adult neuron. This points to key differences between developmental and maintenance transcriptional regulatory networks in individual neurons. Together, our results provide novel insight showing that the maintenance of subtype identity is an active process underpinned by persistently active, combinatorially-acting, developmental transcription factors. These findings have implications for understanding the maintenance of all long-lived cell types and the functional degeneration of neurons in the aging brain.

Full-text preview

Available from: PubMed Central
  • Source
    • "This observation is in agreement with a precedent study in Ciona intestinalis and with a much more limited study focusing on the expression of nuclear receptor genes in zebrafish (Bertrand et al., 2007; Imai et al., 2004). This result suggests that a majority of the transcriptional regulators used to determine cellular fate during embryogenesis is still active in adult tissues to maintain the cellular differentiation state (Blau and Baltimore, 1991; Eade et al., 2012) or tissue homeostasis. The majority of TR genes (55%, n ¼1711) showed ubiquitous expression as judged by deep sequencing and verified by in situ hybridisation analysis. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Transcription is the primary step in the retrieval of genetic information. A substantial proportion of the protein repertoire of each organism consists of transcriptional regulators (TRs). It is believed that the differential expression and combinatorial action of these TRs is essential for vertebrate development and body homeostasis. We mined the zebrafish genome exhaustively for genes encoding TRs and determined their expression in the zebrafish embryo by sequencing to saturation and in situ hybridisation. At the evolutionary conserved phylotypic stage, 75% of the 3302TR genes encoded in the genome are already expressed. The number of expressed TR genes increases only marginally in subsequent stages and is maintained during adulthood suggesting important roles of the TR genes in body homeostasis. Fewer than half of the TR genes (45%, n=1711 genes) are expressed in a tissue-restricted manner in the embryo. Transcripts of 207 genes were detected in a single tissue in the 24hour embryo, potentially acting as regulators of specific processes. Other TR genes were expressed in multiple tissues. However, with the exception of certain territories in the nervous system, we did not find significant synexpression suggesting that most tissue-restricted TRs act in a freely combinatorial fashion. Our data indicate that elaboration of body pattern and function from the phylotypic stage onward relies mostly on redeployment of TRs and post-transcriptional processes.
    Full-text · Article · May 2013 · Developmental Biology
  • Source
    • "accessed 12 June 2012). This might suggest that these transcription factors are “terminal selectors” of these brain structures (Flames and Hobert 2009; Liu et al. 2010; Eade et al. 2012; Kratsios et al. 2012), i.e., their activity is required not only during development but also for the proper maturation and function of the thalamus and midbrain in adulthood. This is also supported by recent results indicating that thalamic identity continuously requires β-catenin signaling for its maintenance (Bluske et al. 2012). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: β-Catenin signaling, leading to the activation of lymphoid enhancer-binding factor 1/T cell factor (LEF1/TCF) transcription factors, plays a well-established role in transcription regulation during development and tissue homeostasis. In the adult organism, the activity of this pathway has been found in stem cell niches and postmitotic thalamic neurons. Recently, studies show that mutations in components of β-catenin signaling networks have been associated with several psychiatric disorders, indicating the involvement of β-catenin and LEF1/TCF proteins in the proper functioning of the brain. Here, we report a comprehensive analysis of LEF1/TCF protein localization and the expression profile of their isoforms in cortical, thalamic, and midbrain regions in mice. We detected LEF1 and TCF7L2 proteins in neurons of the thalamus and dorsal midbrain, i.e., subcortical regions specialized in the integration of diverse sources of sensory information. These neurons also exhibited nuclear localization of β-catenin, suggesting the involvement of β-catenin/LEF1/TCF7L2 in the regulation of gene expression in these regions. Analysis of alternative splicing and promoter usage identified brain-specific TCF7L2 isoforms and revealed a developmentally coordinated transition in the composition of LEF1 and TCF7L2 isoforms. In the case of TCF7L2, the typical brain isoforms lack the so-called C clamp; in addition, the dominant-negative isoforms are predominant in the embryonic thalamus but disappear postnatally. The present study provides a necessary framework to understand the role of LEF1/TCF factors in thalamic and midbrain development until adulthood and predicts that the regulatory role of these proteins in the adult brain is significantly different from their role in the embryonic brain or other non-neural tissues.
    Full-text · Article · Nov 2012 · Brain Structure and Function
  • Source
    • "Consistent with the hypothesis that these factors play a role in the specification of octopaminergic neurons, all four are expressed on the embryonic midline (72,73), from which the octopaminergic cell population arises (74). It is not uncommon for the same transcriptional regulatory network to play a role both in the early development and adult maintenance of a neuronal cell type as has been described for Tv neuropeptidergic cells (75). A role for PcG-silencing in the specification of cell types, in particular specific subsets of neurons, has been suggested by others (76–80). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Many tools are available to analyse genomes but are often challenging to use in a cell type–specific context. We have developed a method similar to the isolation of nuclei tagged in a specific cell type (INTACT) technique [Deal,R.B. and Henikoff,S. (2010) A simple method for gene expression and chromatin profiling of individual cell types within a tissue. Dev. Cell, 18, 1030–1040; Steiner,F.A., Talbert,P.B., Kasinathan,S., Deal,R.B. and Henikoff,S. (2012) Cell-type-specific nuclei purification from whole animals for genome-wide expression and chromatin profiling. Genome Res., doi:10.1101/gr.131748.111], first developed in plants, for use in Drosophila neurons. We profile gene expression and histone modifications in Kenyon cells and octopaminergic neurons in the adult brain. In addition to recovering known gene expression differences, we also observe significant cell type–specific chromatin modifications. In particular, a small subset of differentially expressed genes exhibits a striking anti-correlation between repressive and activating histone modifications. These genes are enriched for transcription factors, recovering those known to regulate mushroom body identity and predicting analogous regulators of octopaminergic neurons. Our results suggest that applying INTACT to specific neuronal populations can illuminate the transcriptional regulatory networks that underlie neuronal cell identity.
    Full-text · Article · Aug 2012 · Nucleic Acids Research
Show more