LIM homeodomain factors regulate the development of many cell types. However, transcriptional coactivators that mediate their developmental function remain poorly defined. To address these, we examined how two related NLI-dependent LIM complexes, which govern the development of spinal motor neurons and V2a interneurons, activate the transcription in the embryonic spinal cord. We found that single-stranded DNA-binding proteins are recruited to these LIM complexes via NLI, and enhance their transcriptional activation potential. Ssdp1 and Ssdp2 (Ssdp1/2) are highly expressed in the neural tube and promote motor neuron differentiation in the embryonic spinal cord and P19 stem cells. Inhibition of Ssdp1/2 activity in mouse and chick embryos suppresses the generation of motor neurons and V2a interneurons. Furthermore, Ssdp1/2 recruit histone-modifying enzymes to the motor neuron-specifying LIM complex and trigger acetylation and lysine 4 trimethylation of histone H3, which are well-established chromatin marks for active transcription. Our results suggest that Ssdp1/2 function as crucial transcriptional coactivators for LIM complexes to specify spinal neuronal identities during development.
Keywords: Isl1; Ldb1; Lhx3; Motor neuron; NLI; Spinal cord; V2a-interneuron.
© 2016. Published by The Company of Biologists Ltd.