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Dev Biol 2012 Mar 01;3631:74-83. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2011.12.024.
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Zinc finger homeobox is required for the differentiation of serotonergic neurons in the sea urchin embryo.

Yaguchi J , Angerer LM , Inaba K , Yaguchi S .

Serotonergic neurons differentiate in the neurogenic animal plate ectoderm of the sea urchin embryo. The regulatory mechanisms that control the specification or differentiation of these neurons in the sea urchin embryo are not yet understood, although, after the genome was sequenced, many genes encoding transcription factors expressed in this region were identified. Here, we report that zinc finger homeobox (zfhx1/z81) is expressed in serotonergic neural precursor cells, using double in situ hybridization screening with a serotonergic neural marker, tryptophan 5-hydroxylase (tph) encoding a serotonin synthase that is required for the differentiation of serotonergic neurons. zfhx1/z81 begins to be expressed at gastrula stage in individual cells in the anterior neuroectoderm, some of which also express delta. zfhx1/z81 expression gradually disappears as neural differentiation begins with tph expression. When the translation of Zfhx1/Z81 is blocked by morpholino injection, embryos express neither tph nor the neural marker synaptotagminB in cells of the animal plate, and serotonergic neurons do not differentiate. In contrast, Zfhx1/Z81 morphants do express fez, another neural precursor marker, which appears to function in the initial phase of specification/differentiation of serotonergic neurons. In addition, zfhx1/z81 is one of the targets suppressed in the animal plate by anti-neural signals such as Nodal as well as Delta-Notch. We conclude that Zfhx1/Z81 functions during the specification of individual anterior neural precursors and promotes the expression of tph and synaptotagminB, required for the differentiation of serotonergic neurons.

PubMed ID: 22210002
PMC ID: PMC3288183
Article link: Dev Biol
Grant support: [+]

Genes referenced: LOC100887844 LOC100888622 LOC115921237 LOC578903 LOC579909 nodall zeb2 zfhx4
Morpholinos: zeb2 MO1 zeb2 MO2

References [+] :
Angerer, The evolution of nervous system patterning: insights from sea urchin development. 2011, Pubmed, Echinobase