Transcription factors of the Nuclear Factor I (Nfi) family are important for the development of specific neuronal and glial populations in the nervous system. One such population, the neurons of the basilar pontine nuclei, expresses high levels of Nfi proteins, and the pontine nuclei are greatly reduced in mice lacking a functional Nfib gene. Pontine neurons, along with other precerebellar neurons that populate the hindbrain, arise from precursors in the lower rhombic lip and migrate anteroventrally to reach their final location. Using immunohistochemistry, we find that NFI-B expression is specific for mossy fiber populations of the precerebellar system. Analysis of the Nfiba-/- hindbrain indicates that the development of the basilar pontine nuclei is delayed, with pontine neurons migrating 1-2 days later than in control animals, and that significantly fewer pontine neurons are produced. While the mossy fiber nuclei of the caudal medulla do form, they also exhibit a developmental delay. Nfia and Nfix null mice exhibit no apparent pontine phenotype, implying specificity in the action of NFI family members. Collectively, these data demonstrate that Nfib plays an important role in the generation of precerebellar mossy fiber neurons, and may do so at least in part by regulating neurogenesis.
- Cell migration
- Mossy fiber