In the developing nervous system, cell fate specification and proliferation are tightly coupled events, ensuring the coordinated generation of the appropriate numbers and correct types of neuronal and glial cells. While it has become clear that tumor suppressor genes and oncogenes are key regulators of cell division in tumor cells, their role in normal cellular and developmental processes is less well understood. Here we present a comparative analysis of the expression profiles of the three members of the pleiomorphic adenoma gene (Plag) family, which encode zinc finger transcription factors previously characterized as tumor suppressors (Zac1) or oncogenes (Plag1, Plag-l2). We focused our analysis on the developing nervous system of mouse where we found that the Plag genes were expressed in both unique and overlapping patterns in the central and peripheral nervous systems, and in olfactory and neuroendocrine lineages. Based on their patterns of expression, we suggest that members of the Plag gene family might control cell fate and proliferation decisions in the developing nervous system and propose that deciphering these functions will help to explain why their inappropriate inactivation/activation leads to tumor formation.
Developmental Dynamics 234:772-782, 2005. (c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.