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PLoS One. 2011;6(8):e23564. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0023564. Epub 2011 Aug 18.

FGF-2 deficiency does not influence FGF ligand and receptor expression during development of the nigrostriatal system.

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Institute of Neuroanatomy, Hannover Medical School, Hannover, Germany.


Secreted proteins of the fibroblast growth factor (FGF) family play important roles during development of various organ systems. A detailed knowledge of their temporal and spatial expression profiles, especially of closely related FGF family members, are essential to further identification of specific functions in distinct tissues. In the central nervous system dopaminergic neurons of the substantia nigra and their axonal projections into the striatum progressively degenerate in Parkinson's disease. In contrast, FGF-2 deficient mice display increased numbers of dopaminergic neurons. In this study, we determined the expression profiles of all 22 FGF-ligands and 10 FGF-receptor isoforms, in order to clarify, if FGF-2 deficiency leads to compensatory up-regulation of other FGFs in the nigrostriatal system. Three tissues, ventral mesencephalon (VM), striatum (STR) and as reference tissue spinal cord (SC) of wild-type and FGF-2 deficient mice at four developmental stages E14.5, P0, P28, and adult were comparatively analyzed by quantitative RT-PCR. As no differences between the genotypes were observed, a compensatory up-regulation can be excluded. Moreover, this analysis revealed that the majority of FGF-ligands (18/22) and FGF-receptors (9/10) are expressed during normal development of the nigrostriatal system and identified dynamic changes for some family members. By comparing relative expression level changes to SC reference tissue, general alterations in all 3 tissues, such as increased expression of FGF-1, -2, -22, FgfR-2c, -3c and decreased expression of FGF-13 during postnatal development were identified. Further, specific changes affecting only one tissue, such as increased FGF-16 (STR) or decreased FGF-17 (VM) expression, or two tissues, such as decreased expression of FGF-8 (VM, STR) and FGF-15 (SC, VM) were found. Moreover, 3 developmentally down-regulated FGFs (FGF-8b, FGF-15, FGF-17a) were functionally characterized by plasmid-based over-expression in dissociated E11.5 VM cell cultures, however, such a continuous exposure had no influence on the yield of dopaminergic neurons in vitro.

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