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J Neurosci. 2016 Aug 31;36(35):9057-69. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4385-15.2016.

A Novel and Multivalent Role of Pax6 in Cerebellar Development.

Author information

1
Department of Medical Genetics, Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, Child and Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z 4H4, Canada.
2
Department of Medical Genetics, Centre for Molecular Medicine and Therapeutics, Child and Family Research Institute, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia V5Z 4H4, Canada dang@cmmt.ubc.ca.

Abstract

Pax6 is a prominent gene in brain development. The deletion of Pax6 results in devastated development of eye, olfactory bulb, and cortex. However, it has been reported that the Pax6-null Sey cerebellum only has minor defects involving granule cells despite Pax6 being expressed throughout cerebellar development. The present work has uncovered a requirement of Pax6 in the development of all rhombic lip (RL) lineages. A significant downregulation of Tbr1 and Tbr2 expression is found in the Sey cerebellum, these are cell-specific markers of cerebellar nuclear (CN) neurons and unipolar brush cells (UBCs), respectively. The examination of Tbr1 and Lmx1a immunolabeling and Nissl staining confirmed the loss of CN neurons from the Sey cerebellum. CN neuron progenitors are produced in the mutant but there is an enhanced death of these neurons as shown by increased presence of caspase-3-positive cells. These data indicate that Pax6 regulates the survival of CN neuron progenitors. Furthermore, the analysis of experimental mouse chimeras suggests a cell-extrinsic role of Pax6 in CN neuron survival. For UBCs, using Tbr2 immunolabeling, these cells are significantly reduced in the Sey cerebellum. The loss of UBCs in the mutant is due partly to cell death in the RL and also to the reduced production of progenitors from the RL. These results demonstrate a critical role for Pax6 in regulating the generation and survival of UBCs. This and previous work from our laboratory demonstrate a seminal role of Pax6 in the development of all cerebellar glutamatergic neurons.

SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT:

Pax6 is a key molecule in development. Pax6 is best known as the master control gene in eye development with mutations causing aniridia in humans. Pax6 also plays important developmental roles in the cortex and olfactory bulb. During cerebellar development, Pax6 is robustly expressed in the germinal zone of all glutamatergic neurons [cerebellar nuclear (CN) neurons, granule cells, and unipolar brush cells (UBCs)]. Past work has not found abnormalities in the CN and UBC populations. Our study reveals that the Pax6-null mutation dramatically affects these cells and identifies Pax6 as a key regulator of cell survival in CN neurons and of cell production in UBCs. The present study shows how Pax6 is key to the development of glutamatergic cells in the cerebellum.

KEYWORDS:

Atoh1; Pax6; Tbr1 and cerebellar nuclear neurons; Tbr2 and unipolar brush cells; rhombic lips

PMID:
27581449
PMCID:
PMC5005719
[Available on 2017-03-03]
DOI:
10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4385-15.2016
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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