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Cereb Cortex. 2013 Nov;23(11):2632-43. doi: 10.1093/cercor/bhs252. Epub 2012 Aug 14.

POU-III transcription factors (Brn1, Brn2, and Oct6) influence neurogenesis, molecular identity, and migratory destination of upper-layer cells of the cerebral cortex.

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Department of Neurobiology, Yale University School of Medicine and Kavli Institute for Neuroscience, 06510 New Haven, CT, USA.


The upper layers (II-IV) are the most prominent distinguishing feature of mammalian neocortex compared with avian or reptilian dorsal cortex, and are vastly expanded in primates. Although the time-dependent embryonic generation of upper-layer cells is genetically instructed within their parental progenitors, mechanisms governing cell-intrinsic fate transitions remain obscure. POU-homeodomain transcription factors Pou3f3 and Pou3f2 (Brn1 and Brn2) are known to label postmitotic upper-layer cells, and are redundantly required for their production. We find that the onset of Pou3f3/2 expression actually occurs in ventricular zone (VZ) progenitors, and that Pou3f3/2 subsequently label neural progeny switching from deep-layer Ctip2(+) identity to Satb2(+) upper-layer fate as they migrate to proper superficial positions. By using an Engrailed dominant-negative repressor, we show that sustained neurogenesis after the deep- to upper-layer transition requires the proneual action of Pou3fs in VZ progenitors. Conversely, single-gene overexpression of any Pou3f in early neural progenitors is sufficient to specify the precocious birth of Satb2(+) daughter neurons that extend axons to the contralateral hemisphere, as well as exhibit robust pia-directed migration that is characteristic of upper-layer cells. Finally, we demonstrate that Pou3fs influence multiple stages of neurogenesis by suppressing Notch effector Hes5, and promoting the expression of proneural transcription factors Tbr2 and Tbr1.


In utero electroporation; Neurogenesis; Upper layer; development; differentiation

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