Neurogenesis during development depends on the coordinated regulation of self-renewal and differentiation of neural precursor cells (NPCs). Chromatin regulation is a key step in self-renewal activity and fate decision of NPCs. However, the molecular mechanism or mechanisms of this regulation is not fully understood. Here, we demonstrate for the first time that MRG15, a chromatin regulator, is important for proliferation and neural fate decision of NPCs. Neuroepithelia from Mrg15-deficient embryonic brain are much thinner than those from control, and apoptotic cells increase in this region. We isolated NPCs from Mrg15-deficient and wild-type embryonic whole brains and produced neurospheres to measure the self-renewal and differentiation abilities of these cells in vitro. Neurospheres culture from Mrg15-deficient embryo grew less efficiently than those from wild type. Measurement of proliferation by means of BrdU (bromodeoxyuridine) incorporation revealed that Mrg15-deficient NPCs have reduced proliferation ability and apoptotic cells do not increase during in vitro culture. The reduced proliferation of Mrg15-deficient NPCs most likely accounts for the thinner neuroepithelia in Mrg15-deficient embryonic brain. Moreover, we also demonstrate Mrg15-deficient NPCs are defective in differentiation into neurons in vitro. Our results demonstrate that MRG15 has more than one function in neurogenesis and defines a novel role for this chromatin regulator that integrates proliferation and cell-fate determination in neurogenesis during development.
Copyright 2008 Wiley-Liss, Inc.