Pistocchi, A., Gaudenzi, G., Carra, S., Bresciani, E., Del Giacco, L., and Cotelli, F. (2008) Crucial role of zebrafish prox1 in hypothalamic catecholaminergic neurons development. BMC Developmental Biology. 8:27.
BACKGROUND: Prox1, the vertebrate homolog of prospero in Drosophila melanogaster, is a divergent homeogene that regulates cell proliferation, fate determination and differentiation during vertebrate embryonic development. RESULTS: Here we report that, in zebrafish, prox1 is widely expressed in several districts of the Central Nervous System (CNS). Specifically, we evidenced prox1 expression in a group of neurons, already positive for otp1, located in the hypothalamus at the level of the posterior tuberculum (PT). Prox1 knock-down determines the severe loss of hypothalamic catecholaminergic (CA) neurons, identified by tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) expression, and the synergistic prox1/otp1 overexpression induces the appearance of hypothalamic supernumerary TH-positive neurons and ectopic TH-positive cells on the yolk epitelium. CONCLUSIONS: Our findings indicate that prox1 activity is crucial for the proper development of the otp1-positive hypothalamic neuronal precursors to their terminal CA phenotype.