Engrailed homeobox genes determine the organization of Purkinje cell sagittal stripe gene expression in the adult cerebellum

J Neurosci. 2008 Nov 19;28(47):12150-62. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2059-08.2008.


Underlying the seemingly uniform cellular composition of the adult mammalian cerebellum (Cb) are striking parasagittal stripes of gene expression along the medial-lateral (ML) axis that are organized with respect to the lobules that divide the Cb along the anterior-posterior (AP) axis. Although there is a clear correlation between the organization of gene expression stripes and Cb activity patterns, little is known about the genetic pathways that determine the intrinsic stripe molecular code. Here we establish that ML molecular code patterning is highly dependent on two homeobox transcription factors, Engrailed1 (En1) and En2, both of which are also required for patterning the lobules. Gene expression analysis of an allelic series of En1/2 mutant mice that have an intact Purkinje cell layer revealed severe patterning defects using three known components of the ML molecular code and a new marker of Hsp25 negative stripes (Neurofilament heavy chain, Nfh). Importantly, the complementary expression of ZebrinII/PhospholipaseC beta4 and Hsp25/Nfh changes in unison in each mutant. Furthermore, each En gene has unique as well as overlapping functions in patterning the ML molecular code and each En protein has dominant functions in different AP domains (subsets of lobules). Remarkably, in En1/2 mutants with almost normal foliation, ML molecular code patterning is severely disrupted. Thus, independent mechanisms that use En1/2 must pattern foliation and spatial gene expression separately. Our studies reveal that En1/2 are fundamental components of the genetic pathways that pattern the two intersecting coordinate systems of the Cb, morphological divisions and the molecular code.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Body Patterning / genetics*
  • Brain Mapping
  • Cerebellum / cytology*
  • Cerebellum / growth & development
  • Gene Dosage
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Developmental / genetics*
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / genetics
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Homeodomain Proteins / genetics
  • Homeodomain Proteins / physiology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Neoplasm Proteins / genetics
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / metabolism
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / physiology*
  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • Phospholipase C beta / genetics
  • Phospholipase C beta / metabolism
  • Purkinje Cells / physiology*


  • En1 protein, mouse
  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Homeodomain Proteins
  • Hsbp1 protein, mouse
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • engrailed 2 protein
  • zebrin II
  • neurofilament protein H
  • Phospholipase C beta
  • Plcb4 protein, mouse