Developmental biology

Lmx1a and Lmx1b cooperate with Foxa2 to coordinate the specification of dopaminergic neurons and control of floor plate cell differentiation in the developing mesencephalon.

PMID 20035737


Mesencephalic dopaminergic (mesDA) neurons control movement and behavior, and their loss causes severe neurological disorders, such as Parkinson's disease. Recent studies have revealed that mesDA neurons originate from mesencephalic floor plate (FP) cells, which had been thought of as non-neurogenic organizer cells regulating regional patterning and axonal projections. Otx2 and its FP-specific downstream factor Lmx1a have been shown to be sufficient to confer neurogenic activity on FP cells and determine a mesDA fate. However, the mechanism underlying how these factors control mesDA development and how FP cells and mesDA neurons are coordinately specified are still largely unknown. In the present study, we obtained evidence that Lmx1a and Lmx1b cooperate with Foxa2 to specify mesDA neuron identity by gain-of-function approaches using transgenic mice. Lmx1a/b appeared to select a mesDA fate by suppressing red nucleus fate in the context of Foxa2-positive progenitors, at least in part, through repressing the Sim1-Lhx1 and Ngn1 pathways that inhibit proper mesDA differentiation. We also found that, in the mesencephalon, FP cell fate is primarily determined by Foxa2 with a supportive action of Lmx1a/b through repressing Nkx6.1, which inhibits FP cell differentiation. Thus, FP and mesDA identities are determined by distinct specification pathways, both of which are controlled by the same combination of transcription factors, Lmx1a/b and Foxa2, and, as a consequence, mesDA neurons are generated from mesencephalic FP cells.

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Anti-LMX1B antibody produced in rabbit, affinity isolated antibody