2010 S3: Douglas Peterson

The role of Nato3, a novel transcription factor, in dopamine neuron formation

Neural stem cells are cells in the developing nervous system that have the capacity to give rise to daughter cells that can mature, or “differentiate” into various different cell types. In the midbrain region of a developing embryo, a type of neural stem cells called floor plate cells have been shown to give rise to dopamine neurons.

Nato3, a basic helix-loop-helix protein, is expressed in the floor plate region of the midbrain in the developing embryo. To determine if Nato3 expression is sufficient to promote floor plate cell differentiation into dopamine neuron in the developing neural tube we are misexpressing Nato3 in the neural stem cells of the hindbrain and midbrain using in ovo electroporation. We are monitoring neural progenitors and their progeny that misexpress the electroporated Nato3 during development using a bicistronic EGFP reported expression vector.

Using immunohistochemistry we are comparing the effect of Nato3 misexpression on neural stem cells in the hindbrain and midbrain using the floor plate cell marker Foxa2 and dopamine neuron marker Nurr 1. If our hypothesis is correct, misexpression of Nato3 will induce neural stem cells to differentiate into DA neurons and express the dopamine neuron marker Nurr1.

Faculty Mentor: Merritt Taylor, Biomedical Sciences


Douglas presented at the American Society for Cell Biology's 50th Annual Meeting December 11-15, 2010 in Philadelphia, PA.


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