P?x6 expression in postmitotic neurons mediates the growth of axons in response to SFRP1.
ABSTRACT: During development, the mechanisms that specify neuronal subclasses are coupled to those that determine their axonal response to guidance cues. Pax6 is a homedomain transcription factor required for the specification of a variety of neural precursors. After cell cycle exit, Pax6 expression is often shut down in the precursor progeny and most postmitotic neurons no longer express detectable levels of the protein. There are however exceptions and high Pax6 protein levels are found, for example, in postmitotic retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), dopaminergic neurons of the olfactory bulb and the limbic system in the telencephalon. The function of Pax6 in these differentiating neurons remains mostly elusive. Here, we demonstrate that Pax6 mediates the response of growing axons to SFRP1, a secreted molecule expressed in several Pax6-positive forebrain territories. Forced expression of Pax6 in cultured postmitotic cortical neurons, which do not normally express Pax6, was sufficient to increment axonal length. Growth was blocked by the addition of anti-SFRP1 antibodies, whereas exogenously added SFRP1 increased axonal growth of Pax6-transfected neurons but not that of control or untransfected cortical neurons. In the reverse scenario, shRNA-mediated knock-down of Pax6 in mouse retinal explants specifically abolished RGCs axonal growth induced by SFRP1, but had no effect on RGCs differentiation and it did not modify the effect of Shh or Netrin on axon growth. Taken together these results demonstrate that expression of Pax6 is necessary and sufficient to render postmitotic neurons competent to respond to SFRP1. These results reveal a novel and unexpected function of Pax6 in postmitotic neurons and situate Pax6 and SFRP1 as pair regulators of axonal connectivity.
Project description:Abnormal levels of fibroblast growth factors (FGFs) and FGF receptors (FGFRs) have been detected in various neurological disorders. The potent impact of FGF-FGFR in multiple embryonic developmental processes makes it challenging to elucidate their roles in postmitotic neurons. Taking an alternative approach to examine the impact of aberrant FGFR function on glutamatergic neurons, we generated a FGFR gain-of-function (GOF) transgenic mouse, which expresses constitutively activated FGFR3 (FGFR3K650E) in postmitotic glutamatergic neurons. We found that GOF disrupts mitosis of radial-glia neural progenitors (RGCs), inside-out radial migration of post-mitotic glutamatergic neurons, and axonal tract projections. In particular, late-born CUX1-positive neurons are widely dispersed throughout the GOF cortex. Such a cortical migration deficit is likely caused, at least in part, by a significant reduction of the radial processes projecting from RGCs. RNA-sequencing analysis of the GOF embryonic cortex reveals significant alterations in several pathways involved in cell cycle regulation and axonal pathfinding. Collectively, our data suggest that FGFR3 GOF in postmitotic neurons not only alters axonal growth of postmitotic neurons but also impairs RGC neurogenesis and radial glia processes.
Project description:The increasing availability of transcriptomic technologies within the last decade has facilitated high-throughput identification of gene expression differences that define distinct cell types as well as the molecular pathways that drive their specification. The retinal projection neurons, retinal ganglion cells (RGCs), can be categorized into distinct morphological and functional subtypes and by the laterality of their projections. Here, we present a method for purifying the sparse population of ipsilaterally projecting RGCs in mouse retina from their contralaterally projecting counterparts during embryonic development through rapid retrograde labeling followed by fluorescence-activated cell sorting. Through microarray analysis, we uncovered the distinct molecular signatures that define and distinguish ipsilateral and contralateral RGCs during the critical period of axonal outgrowth and decussation, with more than 300 genes differentially expressed within these two cell populations. Among the differentially expressed genes confirmed through in vivo expression validation, several genes that mark "immaturity" are expressed within postmitotic ipsilateral RGCs. Moreover, at least one complementary pair, Igf1 and Igfbp5, is upregulated in contralateral or ipsilateral RGCs, respectively, and may represent signaling pathways that determine ipsilateral versus contralateral RGC identity. Importantly, the cell cycle regulator cyclin D2 is highly expressed in peripheral ventral retina with a dynamic expression pattern that peaks during the period of ipsilateral RGC production. Thus, the molecular signatures of ipsilateral and contralateral RGCs and the mechanisms that regulate their differentiation are more diverse than previously expected.
Project description:RNA-binding proteins Lin28a/b regulate cellular growth and tissue regeneration. Here, we investigated the role of Lin28 in the control of axon regeneration in postmitotic neurons. We find that Lin28a/b are both necessary and sufficient for supporting axon regeneration in mature sensory neurons through their regulatory partners, let-7 microRNAs (miRNAs). More importantly, overexpression of Lin28a in mature retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) produces robust and sustained optic nerve regeneration. Additionally, combined overexpression of Lin28a and downregulation of Pten in RGCs act additively to promote optic nerve regeneration, potentially by reducing the backward turning of regenerating RGC axons. Our findings not only reveal a vital role of Lin28 signaling in regulating mammalian axon regeneration but also identify a signaling pathway that can promote axon regeneration in the central nervous system (CNS).
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The paired homeobox protein Pax6 is essential for proliferation and pluripotency of retinal progenitors. However, temporal changes in Pax6 protein expression associated with the generation of various retinal neurons have not been characterized with regard to the cell cycle. Here, we examine the dynamic changes of Pax6 expression among chicken retinal progenitors as they progress through the neurogenic cell cycle, and determine the effects of altered Pax6 levels on retinogenesis.<h4>Results</h4>We provide evidence that during the preneurogenic to neurogenic transition, Pax6 protein levels in proliferating progenitor cells are down-regulated. Neurogenic retinal progenitors retain a relatively low level of Pax6 protein, whereas postmitotic neurons either elevate or extinguish Pax6 expression in a cell type-specific manner. Cell imaging and cell cycle analyses show that neurogenic progenitors in the S phase of the cell cycle contain low levels of Pax6 protein, whereas a subset of progenitors exhibits divergent levels of Pax6 protein upon entering the G2 phase of the cell cycle. We also show that M phase cells contain varied levels of Pax6, and some correlate with the onset of early neuronal marker expression, forecasting cell cycle exit and cell fate commitment. Furthermore, either elevating or knocking down Pax6 attenuates cell proliferation and results in increased cell death. Reducing Pax6 decreases retinal ganglion cell genesis and enhances cone photoreceptor and amacrine interneuron production, whereas elevating Pax6 suppresses cone photoreceptor and amacrine cell fates.<h4>Conclusion</h4>These studies demonstrate for the first time quantitative changes in Pax6 protein expression during the preneurogenic to neurogenic transition and during the neurogenic cell cycle. The results indicate that Pax6 protein levels are stringently controlled in proliferating progenitors. Maintaining a relatively low Pax6 protein level is necessary for S phase re-entry, whereas rapid accumulation or reduction of Pax6 protein during the G2/M phase of the cell cycle may be required for specific neuronal fates. These findings thus provide novel insights on the dynamic regulation of Pax6 protein among neurogenic progenitors and the temporal frame of neuronal fate determination.
Project description:To what extent do postmitotic neurons regulate gene expression during development or after injury? We took advantage of our ability to highly purify retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) to profile their pattern of gene expression at 13 ages from embryonic day 17 through postnatal day 21. We found that a large proportion of RGC genes are regulated dramatically throughout their postmitotic development, although the genes regulated through development in vivo generally are not regulated similarly by RGCs allowed to age in vitro. Interestingly, we found that genes regulated by developing RGCs are not generally correlated with genes regulated in RGCs stimulated to regenerate their axons. We unexpectedly found three genes associated with glaucoma, optineurin, cochlin, and CYP1B1 (cytochrome P450, family 1, subfamily B, polypeptide 1), previously thought to be primarily expressed in the trabecular meshwork, which are highly expressed by RGCs and regulated through their development. We also identified several other RGC genes that are encoded by loci linked to glaucoma. The expression of glaucoma-linked genes by RGCs suggests that, at least in some cases, RGCs may be directly involved in glaucoma pathogenesis rather than indirectly involved in response to increased intraocular pressure. Consistent with this hypothesis, we found that CYP1B1 overexpression potentiates RGC survival.
Project description:Familial dysautonomia (FD) is an autosomal recessive disorder marked by developmental and progressive neuropathies. It is caused by an intronic point-mutation in the IKBKAP/ELP1 gene, which encodes the inhibitor of ?B kinase complex-associated protein (IKAP, also called ELP1), a component of the elongator complex. Owing to variation in tissue-specific splicing, the mutation primarily affects the nervous system. One of the most debilitating hallmarks of FD that affects patients' quality of life is progressive blindness. To determine the pathophysiological mechanisms that are triggered by the absence of IKAP in the retina, we generated retina-specific Ikbkap conditional knockout (CKO) mice using Pax6-Cre, which abolished Ikbkap expression in all cell types of the retina. Although sensory and autonomic neuropathies in FD are known to be developmental in origin, the loss of IKAP in the retina did not affect its development, demonstrating that IKAP is not required for retinal development. The loss of IKAP caused progressive degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) by 1?month of age. Mitochondrial membrane integrity was breached in RGCs, and later in other retinal neurons. In Ikbkap CKO retinas, mitochondria were depolarized, and complex I function and ATP were significantly reduced. Although mitochondrial impairment was detected in all Ikbkap-deficient retinal neurons, RGCs were the only cell type to degenerate; the survival of other retinal neurons was unaffected. This retina-specific FD model is a useful in vivo model for testing potential therapeutics for mitigating blindness in FD. Moreover, our data indicate that RGCs and mitochondria are promising targets.
Project description:Retinal organoids are three-dimensional structures derived from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs) which recapitulate the spatial and temporal differentiation of the retina, serving as effective in vitro models of retinal development. However, a lack of emphasis has been placed upon the development and organization of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs) within retinal organoids. Thus, initial efforts were made to characterize RGC differentiation throughout early stages of organoid development, with a clearly defined RGC layer developing in a temporally-appropriate manner expressing a complement of RGC-associated markers. Beyond studies of RGC development, retinal organoids may also prove useful for cellular replacement in which extensive axonal outgrowth is necessary to reach post-synaptic targets. Organoid-derived RGCs could help to elucidate factors promoting axonal outgrowth, thereby identifying approaches to circumvent a formidable obstacle to RGC replacement. As such, additional efforts demonstrated significant enhancement of neurite outgrowth through modulation of both substrate composition and growth factor signaling. Additionally, organoid-derived RGCs exhibited diverse phenotypes, extending elaborate growth cones and expressing numerous guidance receptors. Collectively, these results establish retinal organoids as a valuable tool for studies of RGC development, and demonstrate the utility of organoid-derived RGCs as an effective platform to study factors influencing neurite outgrowth from organoid-derived RGCs.
Project description:Norrin is a secreted signaling molecule activating the Wnt/?-catenin pathway. Since Norrin protects retinal neurons from experimental acute injury, we were interested to learn if Norrin attenuates chronic damage of retinal ganglion cells (RGC) and their axons in a mouse model of glaucoma. Transgenic mice overexpressing Norrin in the retina (Pax6-Norrin) were generated and crossed with DBA/2J mice with hereditary glaucoma and optic nerve axonal degeneration. One-year old DBA/2J/Pax6-Norrin animals had significantly more surviving optic nerve axons than their DBA/2J littermates. The protective effect correlated with an increase in insulin-like growth factor (IGF)-1 mRNA and an enhanced Akt phosphorylation in DBA/2J/Pax6-Norrin mice. Both mouse strains developed an increase in intraocular pressure during the second half of the first year and marked degenerative changes in chamber angle, ciliary body and iris structure. The degenerations were slightly attenuated in the chamber angle of DBA/2J/Pax6-Norrin mice, which showed a ?-catenin increase in the trabecular meshwork. We conclude that high levels of Norrin and the subsequent constitutive activation of Wnt/?-catenin signaling in RGC protect from glaucomatous axonal damage via IGF-1 causing increased activity of PI3K-Akt signaling. Our results identify components of a protective signaling network preventing degeneration of optic nerve axons in glaucoma.
Project description:Intra-retinal axon guidance involves a coordinated expression of transcription factors, axon guidance genes, and secretory molecules within the retina. Pax6, the master regulator gene, has a spatio-temporal expression typically restricted till neurogenesis and fate-specification. However, our observation of persistent expression of Pax6 in mature RGCs led us to hypothesize that Pax6 could play a major role in axon guidance after fate specification. Here, we found significant alteration in intra-retinal axon guidance and fasciculation upon knocking out of Pax6 in E15.5 retina. Through unbiased transcriptome profiling between Pax6fl/fl and Pax6-/- retinas, we revealed the mechanistic insight of its role in axon guidance. Our results showed a significant increase in the expression of extracellular matrix molecules and decreased expression of retinal fate specification and neuron projection guidance molecules. Additionally, we found that EphB1 and Sema5B are directly regulated by Pax6 owing to the guidance defects and improper fasciculation of axons. We conclude that Pax6 expression post fate specification of RGCs is necessary for regulating the expression of axon guidance genes and most importantly for maintaining a conducive ECM through which the nascent axons get guided and fasciculate to reach the optic disc.
Project description:Human embryonic stem cell (hESC)-derived dopaminergic (DA) neurons hold potential for treating Parkinson's disease (PD) through cell replacement therapy. Generation of DA neurons from hESCs has been achieved by coculture with the stromal cell line PA6, a source of stromal cell-derived inducing activity (SDIA). However, the factors produced by stromal cells that result in SDIA are largely undefined. We previously reported that medium conditioned by PA6 cells can generate functional DA neurons from NTera2 human embryonal carcinoma stem cells. Here we show that PA6-conditioned medium can induce DA neuronal differentiation in both NTera2 cells and the hESC I6 cell line. To identify the factor(s) responsible for SDIA, we used large-scale microarray analysis of gene expression combined with mass spectrometric analysis of PA6-conditioned medium (CM). The candidate factors, hepatocyte growth factor (HGF), stromal cell-derived factor-1 ? (SDF1?), secreted frizzled-related protein 1 (sFRP1), and vascular endothelial growth factor D (VEGFD) were identified, and their concentrations in PA6 CM were established by immunoaffinity capillary electrophoresis. Upon addition of SDF1?, sFRP1, and VEGFD to the culture medium, we observed an increase in the number of cells expressing tyrosine hydroxylase (a marker for DA neurons) and ?III-tubulin (a marker for immature neurons) in both the NTera2 and I6 cell lines. These results indicate that SDF1?, sFRP1, and VEGFD are major components of SDIA and suggest the potential use of these defined factors to elicit DA differentiation of pluripotent human stem cells for therapeutic intervention in PD.