Identification of STAM1 as a novel effector of ventral projection of spinal motor neurons

Development. 2016 Jul 1;143(13):2334-43. doi: 10.1242/dev.135848. Epub 2016 May 9.


During spinal cord development, motor neuron (MN) axons exit the spinal cord ventrally, although the molecular basis for this process remains poorly understood. STAM1 and HRS form a complex involved with endosomal targeting of cargo proteins, including the chemokine receptor CXCR4. Interestingly, the absence of CXCR4 signaling in spinal MNs is known to result in improper extension of the axons into the dorsal side of the spinal cord. Here, we report that the MN-specific ISL1-LHX3 complex directly transactivates the Stam1 gene and that STAM1 functions in determining the ventral spinal MN axonal projections. STAM1 is co-expressed with HRS in embryonic spinal MNs, and knockdown of STAM1 in the developing chick spinal cord results in downregulation of CXCR4 expression, accompanied by dorsally projecting motor axons. Interestingly, overexpression of STAM1 or CXCR4 also results in dorsal projection of motor axons, suggesting that proper CXCR4 protein level is necessary for the ventral motor axon trajectory. Our results reveal a crucial regulatory axis for the ventral axonal trajectory of developing spinal MNs, consisting of the ISL1-LHX3 complex, STAM1 and CXCR4.

Keywords: CXCR4; Chick; HRS; ISL1; LHX3; LIM complex; Motor neuron; Mouse; STAM1; Spinal cord; Transcription.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / genetics
  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Base Sequence
  • Binding Sites
  • Chickens
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation
  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport / genetics
  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport / metabolism*
  • Endosomes / metabolism
  • Female
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Humans
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins / metabolism
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism*
  • Phosphoproteins / genetics
  • Phosphoproteins / metabolism*
  • Protein Binding
  • Rats
  • Receptors, CXCR4 / metabolism
  • Response Elements / genetics
  • Spinal Cord / cytology*
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism


  • Adaptor Proteins, Signal Transducing
  • CXCR4 protein, mouse
  • Endosomal Sorting Complexes Required for Transport
  • LIM-Homeodomain Proteins
  • Lhx3 protein
  • Phosphoproteins
  • Receptors, CXCR4
  • Stam protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factors
  • hepatocyte growth factor-regulated tyrosine kinase substrate
  • insulin gene enhancer binding protein Isl-1