The most ventral structure of the developing neural tube, the floor plate (FP), differs in neurogenic capacity along the neuraxis. The FP is largely non-neurogenic at the hindbrain and spinal cord levels, but generates large numbers of dopamine (mDA) neurons at the midbrain levels. Wnt1, and other Wnts are expressed in the ventral midbrain, and Wnt/beta catenin signaling can at least in part account for the difference in neurogenic capacity of the FP between midbrain and hindbrain levels. To further develop the hypothesis that canonical Wnt signaling promotes mDA specification and FP neurogenesis, we have generated a model wherein beta-catenin is conditionally stabilized throughout the FP. Here, we unambiguously show by fate mapping FP cells in this mutant, that the hindbrain and spinal cord FP are rendered highly neurogenic, producing large numbers of neurons. We reveal that a neurogenic hindbrain FP results in the altered settling pattern of neighboring precerebellar neuronal clusters. Moreover, in this mutant, mDA progenitor markers are induced throughout the rostrocaudal axis of the hindbrain FP, although TH+ mDA neurons are produced only in the rostral aspect of rhombomere (r)1. This is, at least in part, due to depressed Lmx1b levels by Wnt/beta catenin signaling; indeed, when Lmx1b levels are restored in this mutant, mDA are observed not only in rostral r1, but also at more caudal axial levels in the hindbrain, but not in the spinal cord. Taken together, these data elucidate both patterning and neurogenic functions of Wnt/beta catenin signaling in the FP, and thereby add to our understanding of the molecular logic of mDA specification and neurogenesis.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)