A Shh/Gli-driven three-node timer motif controls temporal identity and fate of neural stem cells.

Dias JM, Alekseenko Z, Jeggari A, Boareto M, Vollmer J, Kozhevnikova M, Wang H, Matise MP, Alexeyenko A, Iber D, Ericson J

Sci Adv 6 (38) - [2020-09-00; online 2020-09-16]

How time is measured by neural stem cells during temporal neurogenesis has remained unresolved. By combining experiments and computational modeling, we define a Shh/Gli-driven three-node timer underlying the sequential generation of motor neurons (MNs) and serotonergic neurons in the brainstem. The timer is founded on temporal decline of Gli-activator and Gli-repressor activities established through down-regulation of Gli transcription. The circuitry conforms an incoherent feed-forward loop, whereby Gli proteins not only promote expression of Phox2b and thereby MN-fate but also account for a delayed activation of a self-promoting transforming growth factor-β (Tgfβ) node triggering a fate switch by repressing Phox2b. Hysteresis and spatial averaging by diffusion of Tgfβ counteract noise and increase temporal accuracy at the population level, providing a functional rationale for the intrinsically programmed activation of extrinsic switch signals in temporal patterning. Our study defines how time is reliably encoded during the sequential specification of neurons.

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PubMed 32938678

DOI 10.1126/sciadv.aba8196

Crossref 10.1126/sciadv.aba8196

pii: 6/38/eaba8196
pmc: PMC7494341