Helmholtz Gemeinschaft


Complementary roles for Nkx6 and Nkx2 class proteins in the establishment of motoneuron identity in the hindbrain

Item Type:Article
Title:Complementary roles for Nkx6 and Nkx2 class proteins in the establishment of motoneuron identity in the hindbrain
Creators Name:Pattyn, A. and Vallstedt, A. and Dias, J.M. and Sander, M. and Ericson, J.
Abstract:The genetic program that underlies the generation of visceral motoneurons in the developing hindbrain remains poorly defined. We have examined the role of Nkx6 and Nkx2 class homeodomain proteins in this process, and provide evidence that these proteins mediate complementary roles in the specification of visceral motoneuron fate. The expression of Nkx2.2 in hindbrain progenitor cells is sufficient to mediate the activation of Phox2b, a homeodomain protein required for the generation of hindbrain visceral motoneurons. The redundant activities of Nkx6.1 and Nkx6.2, in turn, are dispensable for visceral motoneuron generation but are necessary to prevent these cells from adopting a parallel program of interneuron differentiation. The expression of Nkx6.1 and Nkx6.2 is further maintained in differentiating visceral motoneurons, and consistent with this the migration and axonal projection properties of visceral motoneurons are impaired in mice lacking Nkx6.1 and/or Nkx6.2 function. Our analysis provides insight also into the role of Nkx6 proteins in the generation of somatic motoneurons. Studies in the spinal cord have shown that Nkx6.1 and Nkx6.2 are required for the generation of somatic motoneurons, and that the loss of motoneurons at this level correlates with the extinguished expression of the motoneuron determinant Olig2. Unexpectedly, we find that the initial expression of Olig2 is left intact in the caudal hindbrain of Nkx6.1/Nkx6.2 compound mutants, and despite this, all somatic motoneurons are missing. These data argue against models in which Nkx6 proteins and Olig2 operate in a linear pathway, and instead indicate a parallel requirement for these proteins in the progression of somatic motoneuron differentiation. Thus, both visceral and somatic motoneuron differentiation appear to rely on the combined activity of cell intrinsic determinants, rather than on a single key determinant of neuronal cell fate.
Keywords:CNS, Motoneuron, Hindbrain, Homeodomain Protein, Animals, Mice
Publisher:Company of Biologists
Page Range:4149-59
Date:September 2003
Official Publication:https://doi.org/10.1242/dev.00641
PubMed:View item in PubMed

Repository Staff Only: item control page

Open Access
MDC Library