A screen for downstream effectors of Neurogenin2 in the embryonic neocortex

Dev Biol. 2004 Sep 15;273(2):373-89. doi: 10.1016/j.ydbio.2004.06.013.


Neurogenin (Ngn) 1 and Ngn2 encode basic-helix-loop-helix transcription factors expressed in the developing neocortex. Like other proneural genes, Ngns participate in the specification of neural fates and neuronal identities, but downstream effectors remain poorly defined. We set out to identify Ngn2 effectors in the cortex using a subtractive hybridization screen and identified several regionally expressed genes that were misregulated in Ngn2 and Ngn1;Ngn2 mutants. Included were genes down-regulated in germinal zone progenitors (e.g., Nlgn1, Unc5H4, and Dcc) and in postmitotic neurons in the cortical plate (e.g., Bhlhb5 and NFIB) and subplate (e.g., Mef2c, srGAP3, and protocadherin 9). Further analysis revealed that Ngn2 mutant subplate neurons were misspecified and that thalamocortical afferents (TCAs) that normally target this layer instead inappropriately projected towards the germinal zone. Strikingly, EphA5 and Sema3c, which encode repulsive guidance cues, were down-regulated in the Ngn2 and Ngn1;Ngn2 mutant germinal zones, providing a possible molecular basis for axonal targeting defects. Thus, we identified several new components of the differentiation cascade(s) activated downstream of Ngn1 and Ngn2 and provided novel insights into a new developmental process controlled by these proneural genes. Further analysis of the genes isolated in our screen should provide a fertile basis for understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying corticogenesis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Body Patterning
  • Cell Differentiation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental
  • Gene Library
  • Genetic Markers
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Mutant Strains
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Models, Neurological
  • Neocortex / embryology*
  • Neocortex / metabolism*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / deficiency
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics*
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism*
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Transcription Factors / deficiency
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Genetic Markers
  • NEUROG2 protein, human
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neurog2 protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors
  • Neurog1 protein, mouse