Interaction of Mash1 and Phox2b in sympathetic neuron development

Mol Cell Neurosci. 2004 Mar;25(3):374-82. doi: 10.1016/j.mcn.2003.10.021.


The transcription factors Mash1 and Phox2b are both essential for sympathetic neuron development. To understand in more detail their function and interaction, Phox2b and Mash1 were ectopically expressed in vivo, in peripheral nerve precursors. Here, we demonstrate that the Phox2b-induced generation of ectopic noradrenergic neurons in chick peripheral nerve involves the induction of Cash1, the chick homolog of Mash1. All Phox2-induced neurons coexpress the noradrenergic marker genes TH and DBH. Conversely, Mash1 induces neuronal differentiation characterized by the expression of generic neuronal genes SCG10, Hu and NF160; however, only a subpopulation of these neurons also displays an autonomic, noradrenergic phenotype. This context-dependent action of Mash1 implicates autonomic codeterminants, required for noradrenergic differentiation in response to Mash1. In contrast, Phox2b coordinates generic and noradrenergic gene expression, recruiting Mash1/Cash1, which may have a major function in the control of pan-neuronal gene expression during noradrenergic neuron development.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adrenergic Fibers / chemistry
  • Adrenergic Fibers / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / analysis
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Homeodomain Proteins / analysis
  • Homeodomain Proteins / biosynthesis*
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / analysis
  • Transcription Factors / biosynthesis*


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • NBPhox protein
  • Transcription Factors