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Activated notch alters development of the dopaminergic neuron pattern in the ventral spinal cord

, : Activated notch alters development of the dopaminergic neuron pattern in the ventral spinal cord. Society for Neuroscience Abstracts 26(1-2): Abstract No -22 13

The Notch signaling pathway is an important regulator of cell fate in the neural plate. We have previously shown that a population of dopaminergic neurons differentiates in a Notch-like lateral inhibitory pattern in the spinal cord of the frog Xenopus laevis during embryonic, larval and metamorphic development. To test whether Notch signaling was involved in generating this pattern, we overexpressed a constitutively active form of Xenopus Notch (XotchDELTAE) in developing frog embryos. Since dopaminergic cells form two longitudinal columns on either side of the ventral spinal cord, we altered only one by injecting RNAs for XotchDELTAE and a marker gene (GFP) into one blastomere at the two-cell stage. Animals showed differences on the injected (green) side including reduction of the eye and enlargement of the brain that were not apparent in animals injected with GFP alone. The lateral inhibitory pattern of dopaminergic neurons appeared normal on both control and experimental sides of the spinal cord. However, analysis of the spacing between dopaminergic neurons showed that there were significantly fewer cells in experimental columns. This is consistent with a role for Notch signaling in specifying fate within a specific population of neurons. Analysis at a later stage of development showed an increase in cell density, but the difference between experimental and control columns remained evident. Thus, alteration of Notch signaling during early development apparently had a permanent effect on the dopaminergic neuron population.


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