Xath5 participates in a network of bHLH genes in the developing Xenopus retina

Neuron. 1997 Nov;19(5):981-94. doi: 10.1016/s0896-6273(00)80391-8.


We examined the function of basic-helix-loop-helix (bHLH) transcription factors during retinal neurogenesis. We identified Xath5, a Xenopus bHLH gene related to Drosophila atonal, which is expressed in the developing Xenopus retina. Targeted expression of Xath5 in retinal progenitor cells biased the differentiation of these cells toward a ganglion cell fate, suggesting that Xath5 can regulate the differentiation of retinal neurons. We examined the relationship between the three bHLH genes Xash3, NeuroD, and Xath5 during retinal neurogenesis and found that Xash3 is expressed in early retinoblasts, followed by coexpression of Xath5 and NeuroD in differentiating cells. We provide evidence that the expression of Xash3, NeuroD, and Xath5 is coupled and propose that these bHLH genes regulate successive stages of neuronal differentiation in the developing retina.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology*
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Animals
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Cell Line
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Drosophila / genetics
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Eye Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Gene Targeting
  • Helix-Loop-Helix Motifs / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / genetics
  • Neurons / cytology
  • Retina / cytology
  • Retina / growth & development
  • Retina / physiology*
  • Retinal Ganglion Cells / cytology
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Stem Cells / physiology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics*
  • Xenopus / genetics*
  • Xenopus / growth & development*
  • Xenopus Proteins*


  • ASCL2 protein, Xenopus
  • ATOH7 protein, Xenopus
  • Basic Helix-Loop-Helix Transcription Factors
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Drosophila Proteins
  • Eye Proteins
  • NEUROD4 protein, Xenopus
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Transcription Factors
  • Xenopus Proteins
  • ato protein, Drosophila
  • NeuroD protein

Associated data

  • GENBANK/U93170
  • GENBANK/U93171