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Exp Cell Res. 1999 Dec 15;253(2):737-46.

Fate of mesencephalic AHD2-expressing dopamine progenitor cells in NURR1 mutant mice.

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Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, Stockholm Branch, Stockholm, S-171 77, Sweden.


The orphan nuclear receptor NURR1 was previously demonstrated to be required for the generation of mesencephalic dopamine (DA) cells. However, even in the absence of NURR1, which is normally expressed as cells become postmitotic, neuronal differentiation is induced and expression of several genes detected in developing dopamine cells appears normal during early stages of development. These include the homeobox transcription factors engrailed and Ptx-3 as well as aldehyde dehydrogenase 2, here defined as the earliest marker identified in developing DA cells, expressed already in mitotic DA progenitors. We have used the expression of these dopaminergic markers, retrograde axonal tracing, and apoptosis analyses to study the fate of the DA progenitor cells in the absence of NURR1. We conclude that NURR1 plays a critical role in the maturation, migration, striatal target area innervation, and survival of differentiating mesencephalic DA cells.

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