The International Journal of Developmental Biology

Int. J. Dev. Biol. 41: 469 - 476 (1997)

Vol 41, Issue 3

p34(cdc2) and mitotic cyclin expression in the developing quail neuroretina

Published: 1 June 1997

X Espanel, A Kastner, O Stettler, B Tavitian, G Brun and G Gillet

Laboratoire de Biologie Moléculaire et Cellulaire de l'Ecole normale supérieure de Lyon, UMR 49 CNRS, Lyon, France.


After an initial proliferation phase, neurons of the central nervous system (CNS) of higher eukaryotes remain postmitotic during their entire lifespan. This requires that a very stringent control be exerted on the cell division apparatus, whose molecular mechanisms remain quite elusive. Here we have used quail neuroretina as a model to study the control of cell division in the developing CNS. In vertebrates, embryonic neuroretinal cells (NR cells) stop their proliferation at different times depending on the cell type. Most NR cells in the quail embryo become postmitotic between E7 and E8. To acquire a better understanding of the molecular events leading to quiescence in NR cells, we have analyzed the expression of cdc2 and of two activators of p34(cdc2): cyclin A and cyclin B2 in the developing neuroretina. We report that these three proteins are downregulated between E7 and E9, suggesting that a common mechanism could block their transcription in differentiating neurons. We also report, using an immunohistochemical approach, that p34(cdc2) downregulation is correlated with the appearance of the microtubule-associated protein tau. These results strongly suggest that inhibition of cdc2 gene expression is closely linked to the achievement of terminal differentiation in neurons. However, we also show that postmitotic ganglion cells precursors begin to synthesize the early neuronal differentiation marker beta3-tubulin while p34(cdc2) is still detectable in these cells, suggesting that p34(cdc2) or a closely related kinase could play a role in some "young" postmitotic neurons.

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