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Cell Tissue Res. 2015 Jan;359(1):343-84. doi: 10.1007/s00441-014-2049-8. Epub 2014 Nov 29.

Can the 'neuron theory' be complemented by a universal mechanism for generic neuronal differentiation.

Author information

1
Max-Planck-Institute for Brain Research, Deutschordenstr. 46, D-60528, Frankfurt, Germany, uwe.ernsberger@brain.mpg.de.

Abstract

With the establishment of the 'neuron theory' at the turn of the twentieth century, this remarkably powerful term was introduced to name a breathtaking diversity of cells unified by a characteristic structural compartmentalization and unique information processing and propagating features. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, developmental, stem cell and reprogramming studies converged to suggest a common mechanism involved in the generation of possibly all vertebrate, and at least a significant number of invertebrate, neurons. Sox and, in particular, SoxB and SoxC proteins as well as basic helix-loop-helix proteins play major roles, even though their precise contributions to progenitor programming, proliferation and differentiation are not fully resolved. In addition to neuronal development, these transcription factors also regulate sensory receptor and endocrine cell development, thus specifying a range of cells with regulatory and communicative functions. To what extent microRNAs contribute to the diversification of these cell types is an upcoming question. Understanding the transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of genes coding for cell type-specific cytoskeletal and motor proteins as well as synaptic and ion channel proteins, which mark differences but also similarities between the three communicator cell types, will provide a key to the comprehension of their diversification and the signature of 'generic neuronal' differentiation. Apart from the general scientific significance of a putative universal core instruction for neuronal development, the impact of this line of research for cell replacement therapy and brain tumor treatment will be of considerable interest.

PMID:
25429886
DOI:
10.1007/s00441-014-2049-8
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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