Markers expressed in the developing embryo can distinguish different areas of the nervous system. Specific areas can be associated with neural progenitors that give rise to specific types of neural cells including GABAergic or dopaminergic neurons. These markers have been used to map the midbrain of the developing mouse, however the midbrain of the chick embryo has not been mapped in detail.
In order to identify markers associated with dopamine neurogenesis in their endogenous locations, we used in situ hybridization and immunofluorescence techniques. We identified the normal expression pattern of Nurr1, Nkx6.1, and Nato3 in chick midbrain after 5 days of development. We then compared expression of these markers after 6 and 7 days in order to identify changes in their expression at different developmental time points. These data suggest that many markers for dopamine neurogenesis are consistent between the chick and mouse embryos. Using overexpression studies of neurogenic genes we were able to observe effects on markers for dopamine neurogenesis.
Faculty Mentor: Merritt Taylor, Biomedical Sciences