Development (Cambridge, England)

Cooperative requirement of the Gli proteins in neurogenesis.

PMID 15983404


The Gli proteins are critical components of multiple processes in development, homeostasis and disease, including neurogenesis and tumorigenesis. However, it is unclear how the Gli code, the sum of their combinatorial positive and negative functions, dictates cell fate and behavior. Using an antisense approach to knockdown gene function in vivo, we find that each of the three Gli proteins is required for the induction of all primary neurons in the amphibian neural plate and regulates the bHLH/Notch neurogenic cascade. Analyses of endogenous Gli function in Gli-mediated neurogenesis and tumorigenesis, and in animal cap assays, reveal specific requirements that are context specific. Nuclear colocalization and binding studies suggest the formation of complexes, with the first two zinc fingers of the Gli five zinc-finger domain acting as a protein-protein interaction site. The Gli proteins therefore appear to form a dynamic physical network that underlies cooperative function, greatly extending the combinatorial possibilities of the Gli code, which may be further fine-tuned in cell fate specification by co-factor function.