A molecular program for contralateral trajectory: Rig-1 control by LIM homeodomain transcription factors
Wilson, S.I.; Shafer, B.; Lee, K.J.; Dodd, J.
Neuron 59(3): 413-424
ISSN/ISBN: 0896-6273 PMID: 18701067 DOI: 10.1016/j.neuron.2008.07.020
Despite increasing evidence for transcriptional control of neural connectivity, how transcription factors regulate discrete steps in axon guidance remains obscure. Projection neurons in the dorsal spinal cord relay sensory signals to higher brain centers. Some projection neurons send their axons ipsilaterally, whereas others, commissural neurons, send axons contralaterally. We show that two closely related LIM homeodomain proteins, Lhx2 and Lhx9, are expressed by a set of commissural relay neurons (dI1c neurons) and are required for the dI1c axon projection. Midline crossing by dI1c axons is lost in Lhx2/9 double mutants, a defect that results from loss of expression of Rig-1 from dI1c axons. Lhx2 binds to a conserved motif in the Rig-1 gene, suggesting that Lhx2/9 regulate directly the expression of Rig-1. Our findings reveal a link between the transcriptional programs that define neuronal subtype identity and the expression of receptors that guide distinctive aspects of their trajectory.