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Brain Res Dev Brain Res. 2004 Jul 19;151(1-2):75-86.

Distribution of presenilin 1 and 2 and their relation to Notch receptors and ligands in human embryonic/foetal central nervous system.

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Geriatric Medicine, Karolinska Institutet, Neurotec Department, Division of Experimental Geriatrics, Karolinska University Hospital, Novum, Huddinge S-141 86, Sweden.


Notch signaling in vertebrates is mediated by four Notch receptors (Notch-1, -2, -3, and -4) that are activated by interacting with at least five different Notch ligands, Jagged-1, Jagged-2, Delta-1, -2, and -3. Recent studies have shown that the gamma-secretase-like intramembranous cleavage of Notch receptors to release their cytoplasmic signaling domains requires the presenilin (PS) proteins 1 and 2 (PS1 and PS2). Here, we used immunohistochemistry to compare the distribution of all four Notch receptor proteins and three ligands in the context of co-localization with PS1 and PS2 in first trimester human central nervous system (CNS). In addition, we investigated Notch receptors and ligands expression by Western blotting. The study was performed on the forebrain and spinal cord of human embryonic/foetal CNS (5-11 gestational weeks). Results showed a divergent distribution of the different Notch receptor proteins with only Notch-1 being co-localized with PS1 and PS2. Notch-2 was only seen occasionally within the developing cortex and spinal cord. Notch-3 expression was restricted to neuroepithelial cells of the spinal cord and endothelial cells in blood vessels of both developing cerebral cortex and spinal cord. The weak, punctate staining of Notch-4 in the neuroepithelium of the spinal cord could not be confirmed with Western blotting. Neither Notch-2, nor -3 showed overlap with either PS1 or PS2 immunoreactivity. The ligand Jagged-1 was found sporadically in the neuroepithelial cell layer in cerebral cortex of the earlier stages of development and of the spinal cord during the first trimester while Jagged-2 was not detected. Jagged-1 and Jagged-2 immunoreactivities were not found in the 9-11-week cortex. No co-distribution of Jagged-1 and PS1 or PS2 was found. Delta-1 ligand expression was detected in neuroepithelial cells of the ventricular zone of the cerebral cortex, and also in maturating neurons in the cortical plate and ventral horns of the developing spinal cord. The presence of Notch-1, Delta-1 and Jagged-1 in the neuroepithelium of developing CNS indicates that Notch signaling in proliferating human progenitor cells only involves these two receptor ligands and that cleavage of Notch-1 is mediated both by PS1 and PS2. The strong immunoreactivity of Notch-1, Delta-1 and PS1 in the cortical plate and in maturating neurons of the spinal cord also suggests that these proteins may regulate the maturation processes of post-mitotic neurons. The pronounced PS1 immunoreactivity in neurites in the hindbrain and spinal cord without detectable expression of any Notch receptor or ligand suggests that a possible role for PS1 in neurite growth involves either gamma-secretase-mediated cleavage of other substrates or gamma-secretase-independent mechanisms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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