Making a mes: A transcription factor-microRNA pair governs the size of the midbrain and the dopaminergic progenitor pool

Angela Anderegg, Rajeshwar Awatramani*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Canonical Wnt signaling is critical for midbrain dopaminergic progenitor specification, proliferation, and neurogenesis. Yet mechanisms that control Wnt signaling remain to be fully elucidated. Wnt1 is a key ligand in the embryonic midbrain, and directs proliferation, survival, specification and neurogenesis. In a recent study, we reveal that the transcription factor Lmx1b promotes Wnt1/Wnt signaling, and dopaminergic progenitor expansion, consistent with earlier studies. Additionally, Lmx1b drives expression of a non-coding RNA called Rmst, which harbors miR135a2 in its last intron. miR135a2 in turn targets Lmx1b as well as several Wnt pathway targets. Conditional overexpression of miR135a2 in the midbrain, particularly during an early time, results in a decreased dopaminergic progenitor pool, and less dopaminergic neurons, consistent with decreased Wnt signaling. We propose a model in which Lmx1b and miR135a2 influence levels of Wnt1 and Wnt signaling, and expansion of the dopaminergic progenitor pool. Further loss of function experiments and biochemical validation of targets will be critical to verify this model. Wnt agonists have recently been utilized for programming stem cells toward a dopaminergic fate in vitro, highlighting the importance of agents that modulate the Wnt pathway.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere998101
Pages (from-to)e998101-18-e998101-22
JournalNeurogenesis
Volume2
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - 2015

Keywords

  • Dopamine neurons
  • Lmx1b
  • MicroRNA
  • Midbrain
  • Wnt signaling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental Biology

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