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Transcription factor Runx1 controls the cell type specification of peptidergic and nonpeptidergic nociceptive dorsal root ganglion (DRG) neurons by repressing TrkA and calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP) expression and activating Ret expression during late embryonic and early postnatal periods (Chen et al., 2006b; Kramer et al., 2006; Yoshikawa et al., 2007). Because Runx1 is expressed in DRG from early developmental stages, we examined the roles of Runx1 in the proliferation and the neuronal differentiation of DRG cells. We used transgenic Runx1-deficient (Runx1−/−::Tg) mice which are rescued from early embryonic lethality by selective expression of Runx1 in hematopoietic cells under the control of GATA-1 promoter. We found that TrkA-expressing (TrkA+) DRG neurons were decreased at embryonic day (E) 12.5 in contrast to the previous study showing that TrkA+ DRG neurons were increased at E17.5 in Runx1−/−::Tg mice (Yoshikawa et al., 2007). The number of DRG neurons which express neuronal markers Hu, NeuN and Islet1 was also reduced in Runx1−/−::Tg mice at E12.5, suggesting that the neuronal differentiation was suppressed in these mice. The cell cycle analysis using BrdU/IDU revealed that the number of DRG cells in S-phase and G2/M-phase was increased in Runx1−/−::Tg mice at E12.5, while the length of S-phase was not changed between Runx1+/+::Tg and Runx1−/−::Tg mice, suggesting that Runx1 negatively controls the proliferation of DRG progenitor cell subpopulation in early embryonic period. Hes1 is a negative regulator of neuronal differentiation (Ishibashi et al., 1995; Tomita et al., 1996), and we found that the number of Hes1+ DRG cells was increased in Runx1−/−::Tg mice at E12.5. In summary, the present study suggests a novel function that Runx1 activates the neuronal differentiation of DRG cell subpopulation through the repression of Hes1 expression in early embryonic period.


  • Molecular and cellular neuroscience

    Molecular and cellular neuroscience 49(1), 23-31, 2012-01

    Elsevier Inc.



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