EN and GBX2 play essential roles downstream of FGF8 in patterning the mouse mid/hindbrain region

A. Liu, A. L. Joyner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations

Abstract

Fgf8, which is expressed at the embryonic mid/hindbrain junction, is required for and sufficient to induce the formation of midbrain and cerebellar structures. To address through what genetic pathways FGF8 acts, we examined the epistatic relationships of mid/hindbrain genes that respond to FGF8, using a novel mouse brain explant culture system. We found that En2 and Gbx2 are the first genes to be induced by FGF8 in wild-type E9.5 diencephalic and midbrain explants treated with FGF8-soaked beads. By examining gene expression in En1/2 double mutant mouse embryos, we found that Fgf8, Wnt1 and Pax5 do not require the En genes for initiation of expression, but do for their maintenance, and Pax6 expression is expanded caudally into the midbrain in the absence of EN function. Since E9.5 En1/2 double mutants lack the mid/hindbrain region, forebrain mutant explants were treated with FGF8 and, significantly, the EN transcription factors were found to be required for induction of Pax5. Thus, FGF8-regulated expression of Pax5 is dependent on EN proteins, and a factor other than FGF8 could be involved in initiating normal Pax5 expression in the mesencephalon/metencephalon. The En genes also play an important, but not absolute, role in repression of Pax6 in forebrain explants by FGF8. Previous Gbx2 gain-of-function studies have shown that misexpression of Gbx2 in the midbrain can lead to repression of Otx2. However, in the absence of Gbx2, FGF8 can nevertheless repress Otx2 expression in midbrain explants. In contrast, Wnt1 is initially broadly induced in Gbx2 mutant explants, as in wild-type explants, but not subsequently repressed in cells near FGF8 that normally express Gbx2. Thus GBX2 acts upstream of, or parallel to, FGF8 in repressing Otx2, and acts downstream of FGF8 in repression of Wnt1. This is the first such epistatic study performed in mouse that combines gain-of-function and loss-of-function approaches to reveal aspects of mouse gene regulation in the mesencephalon/metencephalon that have been difficult to address using either approach alone.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-191
Number of pages11
JournalDevelopment
Volume128
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2001

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Molecular Biology
  • Developmental Biology

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