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Dev Biol. 2008 Oct 15;322(2):415-24. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2008.07.029. Epub 2008 Jul 31.

Characterization of a distinct subpopulation of striatal projection neurons expressing the Dlx genes in the basal ganglia through the activity of the I56ii enhancer.

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  • 1Center for Advanced Research in Environmental Genomics (CAREG), Department of Biology, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, ON, Canada.


Regulation of region-specific neuronal differentiation and migration in the embryonic forebrain is a complex mechanism that involves a variety of transcription factors such as the Dlx genes. At least four cis-acting regulatory elements (CREs) are responsible for the Dlx transcriptional regulation in the subcortical telencephalon and the rostral diencephalon. These include I12b and URE2 in the Dlx1/2 bigene cluster, and, I56i and I56ii in the Dlx5/6 cluster. We previously reported that URE2, I12b, and I56i, mark different progenitor cell populations in the ganglionic eminences as well as different subtypes of adult cortical interneurons. Here, we carried out a detailed spatial and temporal analysis of the I56ii CRE activity in the developing telencephalon between E10.5 and E15.5, and compared its activity with the other three Dlx CREs using lacZ reporter genes in transgenic mice. We show that I56ii marks distinct group(s) of neurons located in the superficial mantle of the LGE and MGE between E11.5 and E13.5. The I56ii-positive cells are Dlx- and GABA-immunoreactive. However, unlike the other CREs, I56ii does not label interneuron progenitors in the basal ganglia, nor tangentially migrating cells to the cortex at E13.5. Instead, I56ii-positive cells mark a subpopulation(s) of post-mitotic projection neurons that tangentially migrate from the LGE to the deep mantle of the MGE and reside between the subventricular zone and the globus pallidus during midgestation. The majority of these neurons express the striatal markers Meis2 and Islet1. Moreover, both Meis2 and Islet1 activate transcription of a reporter gene containing the I56ii sequence in co-transfection assays, indicating that these transcriptional factors may be potential upstream modulators of the Dlx genes in vivo.

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