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Neural Dev. 2010 Oct 15;5:27. doi: 10.1186/1749-8104-5-27.

RBP-J is not required for granule neuron progenitor development and medulloblastoma initiated by Hedgehog pathway activation in the external germinal layer.

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Institute for Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.



The Notch signalling pathway plays crucial roles in neural development, functioning by preventing premature differentiation and promotion of glial cell fates. In the developing cerebellum Notch pathway components are expressed in granule neuron progenitors of the external germinal layer (EGL) but the precise function of Notch in these cells is unclear. The Hedgehog pathway is also crucial in cerebellar development, mainly via control of the cell cycle, and persistent activation of the pathways leads to the cerebellar tumour medulloblastoma. Interactions between Hedgehog and Notch have been reported in normal brain development as well as in Hedgehog pathway induced medulloblastoma but the molecular details of this interaction are not known and we investigate here the role of Notch signalling in the development of the EGL and the intersection between the two pathways in cerebellar granule neuron progenitors and in medulloblastoma.


RBP-J is the major downstream effector of all four mammalian Notch receptors and the RBP-J conditional mouse facilitates inactivation of canonical Notch signals. Patched1 is a negative regulator of Hedgehog signalling and the Patched1 conditional mouse is widely used to activate Hedgehog signalling via Patched1 deletion in specific cell types. The conditional mouse lines were crossed with a Math1-Cre line to delete the two genes in granule neuron progenitors from embryonic day 10.5. While deletion of only Patched1 as well as Patched1 together with RBP-J leads to formation of medulloblastoma concomitant with disorganisation of cell layers, loss of RBP-J from granule neuron progenitors has no obvious effect on overall cerebellar morphology or differentiation and maturation of the different cerebellar cell types.


Our results suggest that even though Notch signalling has been shown to play important roles in cerebellar development, signalling via RBP-J is surprisingly not required in granule neuron progenitors. Furthermore, RBP-J inactivation in these cells does not influence the formation of medulloblastoma initiated by Hedgehog pathway activation. This may suggest a requirement of Notch in cerebellar development at a different developmental stage or in a different cell type than examined here - for example, in the neural stem cells of the ventricular zone. In addition, it remains a possibility that, in granule neuron progenitors, Notch may signal via an alternative pathway without the requirement for RBP-J.

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