Département de biologie moléculaire
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Delayed neurogenesis with respect to eye growth shapes the pigeon retina for high visual acuity.
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Development, ; 143 (24): 4701-4712
The macula and fovea located at the optical centre of the retina make primate visual perception unique among mammals. Our current understanding of retina ontogenesis is primarily based on animal models having no macula and no fovea. However, the pigeon retina and the human macula share a number of structural and functional properties that justify introducing the former as a new model system for retina development. Comparative transcriptome analysis of pigeon and chicken retinas at different embryonic stages reveals that the genetic programmes underlying cell differentiation are postponed in the pigeon until the end of the period of cell proliferation. We show that the late onset of neurogenesis has a profound effect on the developmental patterning of the pigeon retina, which is at odds with the current models of retina development. The uncoupling of tissue growth and neurogenesis is shown to result from the fact that the pigeon retinal epithelium is inhibitory to cell differentiation. The sum of these developmental features allows the pigeon to build a retina that displays the structural and functional traits typical of primate macula and fovea.


A positive feedback loop between ATOH7 and a Notch effector regulates cell-cycle progression and neurogenesis in the retina.
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Cell Rep, ; 3 (3): 796-807
The HES proteins are known Notch effectors and have long been recognized as important in inhibiting neuronal differentiation. However, the roles that they play in the specification of neuronal fate remain largely unknown. Here, we show that in the differentiating retinal epithelium, the proneural protein ATOH7 (ATH5) is required for the activation of the transcription of the Hes5.3 gene before the penultimate mitosis of progenitor cells. We further show that the HES5.3 protein slows down the cell-cycle progression of Atoh7-expressing cells, thereby establishing conditions for Atoh7 to reach a high level of expression in S phase and induce neuronal differentiation prior to the ultimate mitosis. Our study uncovers how a proneural protein recruits a protein known to be a component of the Notch signaling pathway in order to regulate the transition between an initial phase of selection among uncommitted progenitors and a later phase committing the selected progenitors to neuronal differentiation.


Ptf1a/Rbpj complex inhibits ganglion cell fate and drives the specification of all horizontal cell subtypes in the chick retina.
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Dev Biol, ; 358 (2): 296-308
During development, progenitor cells of the retina give rise to six principal classes of neurons and the Müller glial cells found within the adult retina. The pancreas transcription factor 1 subunit a (Ptf1a) encodes a basic-helix-loop-helix transcription factor necessary for the specification of horizontal cells and the majority of amacrine cell subtypes in the mouse retina. The Ptf1a-regulated genes and the regulation of Ptf1a activity by transcription cofactors during retinogenesis have been poorly investigated. Using a retrovirus-mediated gene transfer approach, we reported that Ptf1a was sufficient to promote the fates of amacrine and horizontal cells from retinal progenitors and inhibit retinal ganglion cell and photoreceptor differentiation in the chick retina. Both GABAergic H1 and non-GABAergic H3 horizontal cells were induced following the forced expression of Ptf1a. We describe Ptf1a as a strong, negative regulator of Atoh7 expression. Furthermore, the Rbpj-interacting domains of Ptf1a protein were required for its effects on cell fate specification. Together, these data provide a novel insight into the molecular basis of Ptf1a activity on early cell specification in the chick retina.


Conserved regulatory sequences in Atoh7 mediate non-conserved regulatory responses in retina ontogenesis.
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Development, ; 136 (22): 3767-3777
The characterisation of interspecies differences in gene regulation is crucial to understanding the molecular basis of phenotypic diversity and evolution. The atonal homologue Atoh7 participates in the ontogenesis of the vertebrate retina. Our study reveals how evolutionarily conserved, non-coding DNA sequences mediate both the conserved and the species-specific transcriptional features of the Atoh7 gene. In the mouse and chick retina, species-related variations in the chromatin-binding profiles of bHLH transcription factors correlate with distinct features of the Atoh7 promoters and underlie variations in the transcriptional rates of the Atoh7 genes. The different expression kinetics of the Atoh7 genes generate differences in the expression patterns of a set of genes that are regulated by Atoh7 in a dose-dependent manner, including those involved in neurite outgrowth and growth cone migration. In summary, we show how highly conserved regulatory elements are put to use in mediating non-conserved functions and creating interspecies neuronal diversity.


Neurogenin 2 controls cortical neuron migration through regulation of Rnd2.
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Nature, ; 455 (7209): 114-118
Motility is a universal property of newly generated neurons. How cell migration is coordinately regulated with other aspects of neuron production is not well understood. Here we show that the proneural protein neurogenin 2 (Neurog2), which controls neurogenesis in the embryonic cerebral cortex, directly induces the expression of the small GTP-binding protein Rnd2 (ref. 3) in newly generated mouse cortical neurons before they initiate migration. Rnd2 silencing leads to a defect in radial migration of cortical neurons similar to that observed when the Neurog2 gene is deleted. Remarkably, restoring Rnd2 expression in Neurog2-mutant neurons is sufficient to rescue their ability to migrate. Our results identify Rnd2 as a novel essential regulator of neuronal migration in the cerebral cortex and demonstrate that Rnd2 is a major effector of Neurog2 function in the promotion of migration. Thus, a proneural protein controls the complex cellular behaviour of cell migration through a remarkably direct pathway involving the transcriptional activation of a small GTP-binding protein.
Expression and cell compartmentalization of EFEMP1, a protein associated with Malattia Leventinese.
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Adv Exp Med Biol, ; 613 : 277-281