[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Murine postnatal neural stem cells (NSCs) give rise to either neurons, astrocytes or oligodendrocytes, however our knowledge of the genes that control this lineage-specification is incomplete. Here we show that Nuclear Factor I X (NFIX), a transcription factor known to regulate NSC quiescence, also suppresses oligodendrogenesis (ODG) from NSCs. Immunostaining reveals little or no expression of NFIX in oligodendrocyte (OL)-lineage cells both in vivo and in vitro. Loss of NFIX from subventricular zone NSCs results in enhanced ODG both in vivo and in vitro, while forced expression of NFIX blocks NSC differentiation into OLs in vitro. RNA-seq analysis shows that genes previously shown to be differentially expressed in OL progenitors are significantly enriched in RNA from Nfix-/- vs. wild type NSCs. These data indicate that NFIX influences the lineage-specification of postnatal subventricular zone NSCs, specifically suppressing ODG.
Full-text · Article · Jun 2015 · Stem cells and development
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: GABAergic neurons are the primary inhibitory cell type in the mature brain and their dysfunction is associated with important neurological conditions like schizophrenia and anxiety. We aimed to discover the underlying mechanisms for dorsal/ventral midbrain GABAergic neurogenesis. Previous work by us and others has provided crucial insights into the key function of Mgn and Mash1 genes in determining GABAergic neurotransmitter fate. Induction of dorsal midbrain GABAergic neurons does not take place at any time during development in either of the single mutant mice. However, GABAergic neurons in the ventral midbrain remained unchanged. Thus, the similarities in MB-GABAergic phenotype observed in the Mgn and Mash1 single mutants suggest the existence of other factors that take over the function of MGN and MASH1 in the ventral midbrain or the existence of different molecular mechanisms. We show that this process essentially depends on heterodimers and homodimers formed by MGN and MASH1 and deciphered the in vivo relevance of the interaction by phenotypic analysis of Mgn/Mash1 double knockout and compound mice. Furthermore, the combination of gain- and loss-of-function experiments in the developing midbrain showed co-operative roles for Mgn and Mash1 genes in determining GABAergic identity. Transcription factors belonging to the Enhancer-of-split-related and proneural families have long been believed to counterpart each other's function. This work uncovers a synergistic cooperation between these two families, and provides a novel paradigm for how these two families cooperate for the acquisition of MB-GABAergic neuronal identity. Understanding their molecular mechanisms is essential for cell therapy strategies to amend GABAergic deficits.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The proneural factor Ascl1 controls multiple steps of neurogenesis in the embryonic brain, including progenitor division and neuronal migration. Here we show that Cenpj, also known as CPAP, a microcephaly gene, is a transcriptional target of Ascl1 in the embryonic cerebral cortex. We have characterized the role of Cenpj during cortical development by in utero electroporation knockdown and found that silencing Cenpj in the ventricular zone disrupts centrosome biogenesis and randomizes the cleavage plane orientation of radial glia progenitors. Moreover, we show that downregulation of Cenpj in post-mitotic neurons increases stable microtubules and leads to slower neuronal migration, abnormal centrosome position and aberrant neuronal morphology. Moreover, rescue experiments shows that Cenpj mediates the role of Ascl1 in centrosome biogenesis in progenitor cells and in microtubule dynamics in migrating neurons. These data provide insights into genetic pathways controlling cortical development and primary microcephaly observed in humans with mutations in Cenpj.
Full-text · Article · Mar 2015 · Nature Communications
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The mammalian cerebral cortex contains a high variety of neuronal subtypes that acquire precise spatial locations and form long or short-range connections to establish functional neuronal circuits. During embryonic development, cortical projection neurons are generated in the areas lining the lateral ventricles and they subsequently undergo radial migration to reach the position of their final maturation within the cortical plate. The control of the neuroblast migratory behavior and the coordination of the migration process with other neurogenic events such as cell cycle exit, differentiation and final maturation are crucial to normal brain development. Among the key regulators of cortical neuron migration, the small GTP binding proteins of the Rho family and the atypical Rnd members play important roles in integrating intracellular signaling pathways into changes in cytoskeletal dynamics and motility behavior. Here we review the role of Rnd proteins during cortical neuronal migration and we discuss both the upstream mechanisms that regulate Rnd protein activity and the downstream molecular pathways that mediate Rnd effects on cell cytoskeleton.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2015 · Frontiers in Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Neurogenesis persists in adult mammals in specific brain areas, known as neurogenic niches. Adult neurogenesis is highly dynamic and is modulated by multiple physiological stimuli and pathological states. There is a strong interest in understanding how this process is regulated, particularly since active neuronal production has been demonstrated in both the hippocampus and the subventricular zone (SVZ) of adult humans. The molecular mechanisms that control neurogenesis have been extensively studied during embryonic development. Therefore, we have a broad knowledge of the intrinsic factors and extracellular signaling pathways driving proliferation and differentiation of embryonic neural precursors. Many of these factors also play important roles during adult neurogenesis, but essential differences exist in the biological responses of neural precursors in the embryonic and adult contexts. Because adult neural stem cells (NSCs) are normally found in a quiescent state, regulatory pathways can affect adult neurogenesis in ways that have no clear counterpart during embryogenesis. BMP signaling, for instance, regulates NSC behavior both during embryonic and adult neurogenesis. However, this pathway maintains stem cell proliferation in the embryo, while it promotes quiescence to prevent stem cell exhaustion in the adult brain. In this review, we will compare and contrast the functions of transcription factors (TFs) and other regulatory molecules in the embryonic brain and in adult neurogenic regions of the adult brain in the mouse, with a special focus on the hippocampal niche and on the regulation of the balance between quiescence and activation of adult NSCs in this region.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · Frontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The development of the nervous system is critically dependent on the production of functionally diverse neuronal cell types at their correct locations. In the embryonic neural tube, dorsoventral signaling has emerged as a fundamental mechanism for generating neuronal diversity. In contrast, far less is known about how different neuronal cell types are organized along the rostrocaudal axis. In the developing mouse and chick neural tube, hindbrain serotonergic neurons and spinal glutamatergic V3 interneurons are produced from ventral p3 progenitors, which possess a common transcriptional identity but are confined to distinct anterior-posterior territories. In this study, we show that the expression of the transcription factor Neurogenin3 (Neurog3) in the spinal cord controls the correct specification of p3-derived neurons. Gain- and loss-of-function manipulations in the chick and mouse embryo show that Neurog3 switches ventral progenitors from a serotonergic to V3 differentiation program by repressing Ascl1 in spinal p3 progenitors through a mechanism dependent on Hes proteins. In this way, Neurog3 establishes the posterior boundary of the serotonergic system by actively suppressing serotonergic specification in the spinal cord. These results explain how equivalent p3 progenitors within the hindbrain and the spinal cord produce functionally distinct neuron cell types.
Full-text · Article · Nov 2014 · The Journal of Neuroscience : The Official Journal of the Society for Neuroscience
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Transcription factors of the nuclear factor one (NFI) family play a pivotal role in the development of the nervous system.
One member, NFIX, regulates the development of the neocortex, hippocampus, and cerebellum. Postnatal Nfix−/− mice also display abnormalities within the subventricular zone (SVZ) lining the lateral ventricles, a region of the brain
comprising a neurogenic niche that provides ongoing neurogenesis throughout life. Specifically, Nfix−/− mice exhibit more PAX6-expressing progenitor cells within the SVZ. However, the mechanism underlying the development of this
phenotype remains undefined. Here, we reveal that NFIX contributes to multiple facets of SVZ development. Postnatal Nfix−/− mice exhibit increased levels of proliferation within the SVZ, both in vivo and in vitro as assessed by a neurosphere assay.
Furthermore, we show that the migration of SVZ-derived neuroblasts to the olfactory bulb is impaired, and that the olfactory
bulbs of postnatal Nfix−/− mice are smaller. We also demonstrate that gliogenesis within the rostral migratory stream is delayed in the absence of Nfix, and reveal that Gdnf (glial-derived neurotrophic factor), a known attractant for SVZ-derived neuroblasts, is a target for transcriptional activation
by NFIX. Collectively, these findings suggest that NFIX regulates both proliferation and migration during the development
of the SVZ neurogenic niche.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The gene regulatory network (GRN) that supports neural stem cell (NS cell) self-renewal has so far been poorly characterised. Knowledge of the central transcription factors (TFs), the non-coding gene regulatory regions that they bind to and the genes whose expression they modulate will be crucial in unlocking the full therapeutic potential of these cells. Here, we use DNase-seq in combination with analysis of histone modifications to identify multiple classes of epigenetically and functionally distinct cis-regulatory elements (CREs). Through motif analysis and ChIP-seq we identify several of the crucial TF regulators of NS cells. At the core of the network are TFs of the basic helix-loop-helix (bHLH), nuclear factor I (NFI), SOX and FOX families, with CREs often densely bound by several of these different TFs. We use machine learning to highlight several crucial regulatory features of the network that underpin NS cell self-renewal and multipotency. We validate our predictions by functional analysis of the bHLH TF OLIG2. This TF makes an important contribution to NS cell self-renewal by concurrently activating pro-proliferation genes and preventing the untimely activation of genes promoting neuronal differentiation and stem cell quiescence.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Glia constitute the majority of cells in the mammalian central nervous system and are crucial for neurological function. However, there is an incomplete understanding of the molecular control of glial cell development. We find that the transcription factor Ascl1 (Mash1), which is best known for its role in neurogenesis, also functions in both astrocyte and oligodendrocyte lineages arising in the mouse spinal cord at late embryonic stages. Clonal fate mapping in vivo reveals heterogeneity in Ascl1-expressing glial progenitors and shows that Ascl1 defines cells that are restricted to either gray matter (GM) or white matter (WM) as astrocytes or oligodendrocytes. Conditional deletion of Ascl1 post-neurogenesis shows that Ascl1 is required during oligodendrogenesis for generating the correct numbers of WM but not GM oligodendrocyte precursor cells, whereas during astrocytogenesis Ascl1 functions in balancing the number of dorsal GM protoplasmic astrocytes with dorsal WM fibrous astrocytes. Thus, in addition to its function in neurogenesis, Ascl1 marks glial progenitors and controls the number and distribution of astrocytes and oligodendrocytes in the GM and WM of the spinal cord.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The activity of adult stem cells is regulated by signals emanating from the surrounding tissue. Many niche signals have been identified, but it is unclear how they influence the choice of stem cells to remain quiescent or divide. Here we show that when stem cells of the adult hippocampus receive activating signals, they first induce the expression of the transcription factor Ascl1 and only subsequently exit quiescence. Moreover, lowering Ascl1 expression reduces the proliferation rate of hippocampal stem cells, and inactivating Ascl1 blocks quiescence exit completely, rendering them unresponsive to activating stimuli. Ascl1 promotes the proliferation of hippocampal stem cells by directly regulating the expression of cell-cycle regulatory genes. Ascl1 is similarly required for stem cell activation in the adult subventricular zone. Our results support a model whereby Ascl1 integrates inputs from both stimulatory and inhibitory signals and converts them into a transcriptional program activating adult neural stem cells.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The proper balance of excitatory and inhibitory neurons is crucial for normal processing of somatosensory information in the dorsal spinal cord. Two neural basic helix-loop-helix transcription factors (TFs), Ascl1 and Ptf1a, have contrasting functions in specifying these neurons. To understand how Ascl1 and Ptf1a function in this process, we identified their direct transcriptional targets genome-wide in the embryonic mouse neural tube using ChIP-Seq and RNA-Seq. We show that Ascl1 and Ptf1a directly regulate distinct homeodomain TFs that specify excitatory or inhibitory neuronal fates. In addition, Ascl1 directly regulates genes with roles in several steps of the neurogenic program, including Notch signaling, neuronal differentiation, axon guidance and synapse formation. By contrast, Ptf1a directly regulates genes encoding components of the neurotransmitter machinery in inhibitory neurons, and other later aspects of neural development distinct from those regulated by Ascl1. Moreover, Ptf1a represses the excitatory neuronal fate by directly repressing several targets of Ascl1. Ascl1 and Ptf1a bind sequences primarily enriched for a specific E-Box motif (CAGCTG) and for secondary motifs used by Sox, Rfx, Pou and homeodomain factors. Ptf1a also binds sequences uniquely enriched in the CAGATG E-box and in the binding motif for its co-factor Rbpj, providing two factors that influence the specificity of Ptf1a binding. The direct transcriptional targets identified for Ascl1 and Ptf1a provide a molecular understanding of how these DNA-binding proteins function in neuronal development, particularly as key regulators of homeodomain TFs required for neuronal subtype specification.
[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.
Full-text · Article · Feb 2014 · Nature Communications
[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.
No preview · Article · Jan 2014 · Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)
[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.
[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.
Full-text · Article · Aug 2013 · Genes & development
[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.