Coordinate regulation of motor neuron subtype identity and pan-neuronal properties by the bHLH repressor Olig2

Neuron. 2001 Sep 13;31(5):773-89. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(01)00407-x.


Within the developing vertebrate nervous system, the mechanisms that coordinate neuronal subtype identity with generic features of neuronal differentiation are poorly defined. We show here that a bHLH protein, Olig2, is expressed selectively by motor neuron progenitors and has a key role in specifying the subtype identity and pan-neuronal properties of developing motor neurons. The role of Olig2 in the specification of motor neuron subtype identity depends on regulatory interactions with progenitor homeodomain proteins, whereas its role in promoting pan-neuronal properties is associated with expression of another bHLH protein, Ngn2. Both aspects of Olig2 function appear to depend on its activity as a transcriptional repressor. Together, these studies show that Olig2 has a critical role in integrating diverse features of motor neuron differentiation in the developing spinal cord.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Body Patterning / genetics
  • Cell Cycle / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology*
  • Central Nervous System / cytology
  • Central Nervous System / embryology*
  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Chick Embryo
  • Fetus
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / physiology
  • Helix-Loop-Helix Motifs / genetics*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Mice
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Motor Neurons / cytology*
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Oligodendrocyte Transcription Factor 2
  • Protein Structure, Tertiary / genetics
  • Repressor Proteins / genetics*
  • Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / physiology
  • Transcription, Genetic / physiology


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neurog2 protein, mouse
  • Olig2 protein, mouse
  • Oligodendrocyte Transcription Factor 2
  • Repressor Proteins
  • Transcription Factors

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF405699