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Neuron. 2000 May;26(2):383-94.

rax, Hes1, and notch1 promote the formation of Müller glia by postnatal retinal progenitor cells.

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Department of Genetics and Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.


We are interested in the mechanisms of glial cell development in the vertebrate central nervous system. We have identified genes that can direct the formation of glia in the retina. rax, a homeobox gene, Hes1, a basic helix-loop-helix gene, and notch1, a transmembrane receptor gene, are expressed in retinal progenitor cells, downregulated in differentiated neurons, and expressed in Müller glia. Retroviral transduction of any of these genes resulted in expression of glial markers. In contrast, misexpression of a dominant-negative Hes1 gene reduced the number of glia. Cotransfection of rax with reporter constructs containing the Hes1 or notch1 regulatory regions led to the upregulation of reporter transcription. These data suggest a regulatory heirarchy that controls the formation of glia at the expense of neurons.

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