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Dev Biol. 2018 Sep 1;441(1):67-82. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2018.06.007. Epub 2018 Jun 19.

The transcription factor Tfap2e/AP-2ε plays a pivotal role in maintaining the identity of basal vomeronasal sensory neurons.

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Department of Biological Sciences, University at Albany, Albany, NY 12222, USA.
Department of Biological Sciences, University at Albany, Albany, NY 12222, USA. Electronic address:


The identity of individual neuronal cell types is defined and maintained by the expression of specific combinations of transcriptional regulators that control cell type-specific genetic programs. The epithelium of the vomeronasal organ of mice contains two major types of vomeronasal sensory neurons (VSNs): 1) the apical VSNs which express vomeronasal 1 receptors (V1r) and the G-protein subunit Gαi2 and; 2) the basal VSNs which express vomeronasal 2 receptors (V2r) and the G-protein subunit Gαo. Both cell types originate from a common pool of progenitors and eventually acquire apical or basal identity through largely unknown mechanisms. The transcription factor AP-2ε, encoded by the Tfap2e gene, plays a role in controlling the development of GABAergic interneurons in the main and accessory olfactory bulb (AOB), moreover AP-2ε has been previously described to be expressed in the basal VSNs. Here we show that AP-2ε is expressed in post-mitotic VSNs after they commit to the basal differentiation program. Loss of AP-2ε function resulted in reduced number of basal VSNs and in an increased number of neurons expressing markers of the apical lineage. Our work suggests that AP-2ε, which is expressed in late phases of differentiation, is not needed to initiate the apical-basal differentiation dichotomy but for maintaining the basal VSNs' identity. In AP-2ε mutants we observed a large number of cells that entered the basal program can express apical genes, our data suggest that differentiated VSNs of mice retain a notable level of plasticity.

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