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Development December 1, 2003; 130 (24): 6013-25.

Ebf gene function is required for coupling neuronal differentiation and cell cycle exit.

Garcia-Dominguez M , Poquet C , Garel S , Charnay P .

Helix-loop-helix transcription factors of the Ebf/Olf1 family have previously been implicated in the control of neurogenesis in the central nervous system in both Xenopus laevis and the mouse, but their precise roles have remained unclear. We have characterised two family members in the chick, and have performed a functional analysis by gain- and loss-of-function experiments. This study revealed several specific roles for Ebf genes in the spinal cord and hindbrain regions of higher vertebrates, and enabled their precise positioning along the neurogenic cascade. During neurogenesis, cell cycle exit appears to be tightly coupled to migration to the mantle layer and to neuronal differentiation. We show that antagonizing Ebf gene activity allows the uncoupling of these processes. Ebf gene function is necessary to initiate neuronal differentiation and migration toward the mantle layer in neuroepithelial progenitors, but it is not required for cell cycle exit. Ebf genes therefore appear to be master controllers of neuronal differentiation and migration, coupling them to cell cycle exit and earlier steps of neurogenesis. Mutual activation between proneural and Ebf genes suggests that besides their involvement in the engagement of differentiation, Ebf genes may also participate in the stabilisation of the committed state. Finally, gain-of-function data raise the possibility that, in addition to these general roles, Ebf genes may be involved in neuronal subtype specification in particular regions of the CNS.

PubMed ID: 14573522
Article link: Development

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