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Dev Biol. 2007 Jan 1;301(1):14-26. Epub 2006 Oct 27.

A cell-autonomous requirement for Cip/Kip cyclin-kinase inhibitors in regulating neuronal cell cycle exit but not differentiation in the developing spinal cord.

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Department of Neuroscience and Cell Biology, Program in Neuroscience, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Piscataway, NJ 08854, USA.


Control over cell cycle exit is fundamental to the normal generation of the wide array of distinct cell types that comprise the mature vertebrate CNS. Here, we demonstrate a critical role for Cip/Kip class cyclin-kinase inhibitory (CKI) proteins in regulating this process during neurogenesis in the embryonic spinal cord. Using immunohistochemistry, we show that all three identified Cip/Kip CKI proteins are expressed in both distinct and overlapping populations of nascent and post-mitotic neurons during early neurogenesis, with p27(Kip1) having the broadest expression, and both p57(Kip2) and p21(Cip1) showing transient expression in restricted populations. Loss- and gain-of-function approaches were used to establish the unique and redundant functions of these proteins in spinal cord neurogenesis. Using genetic lineage tracing, we provide evidence that, in the absence of p57, nascent neurons re-enter the cell cycle inappropriately but later exit to begin differentiation. Analysis of p57(Kip2);p27(Kip1) double mutants, where p21 expression is confined to only a small population of interneurons, demonstrates that Cip/Kip CKI-independent factors initiate progenitor cell cycle exit for the majority of interneurons generated in the developing spinal cord. Our studies indicate that p57 plays a critical cell-autonomous role in timing cell cycle exit at G1/S by opposing the activity of Cyclin D1, which promotes cell cycle progression. These studies support a multi-step model for neuronal progenitor cell cycle withdrawal that involves p57(Kip2) in a central role opposing latent Cyclin D1 and other residual cell cycle promoting activities in progenitors targeted for differentiation.

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