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Neuroscience January 1, 2020; 434 66-82.

Lhx2/9 and Etv1 Transcription Factors have Complementary roles in Regulating the Expression of Guidance Genes slit1 and sema3a.

Yang JJ , Bertolesi GE , Hehr CL , McFarlane S .

During neural network development, growing axons read a map of guidance cues expressed in the surrounding tissue that lead the axons toward their targets. In particular, Xenopus retinal ganglion axons use the cues Slit1 and Semaphorin 3a (Sema3a) at a key guidance decision point in the mid-diencephalon in order to continue on to their midbrain target, the optic tectum. The mechanisms that control the expression of these cues, however, are poorly understood. Extrinsic Fibroblast Growth Factor (Fgf) signals are known to help coordinate the development of the brain by regulating gene expression. Here, we propose Lhx2/9 and Etv1 as potential downstream effectors of Fgf signalling to regulate slit1 and sema3a expression in the Xenopus forebrain. We find that lhx2/9 and etv1 mRNAs are expressed complementary to and within slit1/sema3a expression domains, respectively. Our data indicate that Lhx2 functions as an indirect repressor in that lhx2 overexpression within the forebrain downregulates the mRNA expression of both guidance genes, and in vitro lhx2/9 overexpression decreases the activity of slit1 and sema3a promoters. The Lhx2-VP16 constitutive activator fusion reduces sema3a promoter function, and the Lhx2-En constitutive repressor fusion increases slit1 induction. In contrast, etv1 gain of function transactivates both guidance genes in vitro and in the forebrain. Based on these data, together with our previous work, we hypothesize that Fgf signalling promotes both slit1 and sema3a expression in the forebrain through Etv1, while using Lhx2/9 to limit the extent of expression, thereby establishing the proper boundaries of guidance cue expression.

PubMed ID: 32200077
Article link: Neuroscience
Grant support: [+]

Species referenced: Xenopus laevis
Genes referenced: etv1 lhx2 sema3a slit1