Topoisomerase IIβ Selectively Regulates Motor Neuron Identity and Peripheral Connectivity through Hox/Pbx-Dependent Transcriptional Programs

Michaela EdmondPolyxeni Philippidou


Vital motor functions, such as respiration and locomotion, rely on the ability of spinal motor neurons (MNs) to acquire stereotypical positions in the ventral spinal cord and to project with high precision to their peripheral targets. These key properties of MNs emerge during development through transcriptional programs that dictate their subtype identity and connectivity; however, the molecular mechanisms that establish the transcriptional landscape necessary for MN specification are not fully understood. Here, we show that the enzyme topoisomerase IIβ (Top2β) controls MN migration and connectivity. Surprisingly, Top2β is not required for MN generation or survival but has a selective role in columnar specification. In the absence of Top2β, phrenic MN identity is eroded, while other motor columns are partially preserved but fail to cluster to their proper position. In Top2β-/- mice, peripheral connectivity is impaired as MNs exhibit a profound deficit in terminal branching. These defects likely result from the insufficient activation of Hox/Pbx-dependent transcriptional programs as Hox and Pbx genes are downregulated in the absence of Top2β. Top2β mutants recapitulate many aspects of Pbx mutant mice, such as MN disorganization ...Continue Reading


Jan 19, 2020·Molecular Genetics & Genomic Medicine·Takuya HiraideHirotomo Saitsu
Jan 17, 2020·ELife·Alicia N VagnozziPolyxeni Philippidou
Apr 26, 2018·Current Opinion in Neurobiology·Clinton Cave, Shanthini Sockanathan

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