Onuma, T.A., Ding, Y., Abraham, E., Zohar, Y., Ando, H., and Duan, C. (2011) Regulation of Temporal and Spatial Organization of Newborn GnRH Neurons by IGF Signaling in Zebrafish. The Journal of neuroscience : the official journal of the Society for Neuroscience. 31(33):11814-11824.
When and how newborn neurons are organized to form a functional network in the developing brain remains poorly understood. An attractive model is the gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) neuron system, master regulator of the reproductive axis. Here we show that blockage of IGF signaling, a central growth-promoting signaling pathway, by the induced expression of a dominant-negative form of IGF1 receptor (IGF1R) or specific IGF1R inhibitors delayed the emergence of GnRH2 neurons in the midbrain and GnRH3 neurons in the olfactory bulb region. Blockage of IGF signaling also resulted in an abnormal appearance of GnRH3 neurons outside of the olfactory bulb region, although it did not change the locations of other olfactory neurons, GnRH2 neurons, or brain patterning. This IGF action is developmental stage-dependent because the blockade of IGF signaling in advanced embryos had no such effect. An application of phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase (PI3K) inhibitors phenocopied the IGF signaling deficient embryos, whereas the MAPK inhibitors had no effect, suggesting that this IGF action is mediated through the PI3K pathway. Real-time in vivo imaging studies revealed that the ectopic GnRH3 neurons emerged at the same time as the normal GnRH3 neurons in IGF-deficient embryos. Further experiments suggest that IGF signaling affects the spatial distribution of newborn GnRH3 neurons by influencing neural crest cell migration and/or differentiation. These results suggest that the IGF-IGF1R-PI3K pathway regulates the precise temporal and spatial organization of GnRH neurons in zebrafish and provides new insights into the regulation of GnRH neuron development.