Thakurela S, Tiwari N, Schick S, Garding A, Ivanek R, Berninger B, Tiwari VK (2016) Mapping gene regulatory circuitry of Pax6 during neurogenesis. Cell Discov 2: 15045

Pax6 is a highly conserved transcription factor among vertebrates and is important in various aspects of the central nervous system development. However, the gene regulatory circuitry of Pax6 underlying these functions remains elusive. We find that Pax6 targets a large number of promoters in neural progenitors cells. Intriguingly, many of these sites are also bound by another progenitor factor, Sox2, which cooperates with Pax6 in gene regulation. A combinatorial analysis of Pax6-binding data set with transcriptome changes in Pax6-deficient neural progenitors reveals a dual role for Pax6, in which it activates the neuronal (ectodermal) genes while concurrently represses the mesodermal and endodermal genes, thereby ensuring the unidirectionality of lineage commitment towards neuronal differentiation. Furthermore, Pax6 is critical for inducing activity of transcription factors that elicit neurogenesis and repress others that promote non-neuronal lineages. In addition to many established downstream effectors, Pax6 directly binds and activates a number of genes that are specifically expressed in neural progenitors but have not been previously implicated in neurogenesis. The in utero knockdown of one such gene, Ift74, during brain development impairs polarity and migration of newborn neurons. These findings demonstrate new aspects of the gene regulatory circuitry of Pax6, revealing how it functions to control neuronal development at multiple levels to ensure unidirectionality and proper execution of the neurogenic program.

Pubmed: 27462442