, Volume 10, Issue 3, pp 356-372
Date: 24 Mar 2011

Spatially Restricted and Developmentally Dynamic Expression of Engrailed Genes in Multiple Cerebellar Cell Types

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The cerebellum is a highly organized structure partitioned into lobules along the anterior–posterior (A-P) axis and into striped molecular domains along the medial–lateral (M-L) axis. The Engrailed (En) homeobox genes are required for patterning the morphological and molecular domains along both axes, as well as for the establishment of the normal afferent topography required to generate a fully functional cerebellum. As a means to understand how the En genes regulate multiple levels of cerebellum construction, we characterized En1 and En2 expression around birth and at postnatal day (P) 21 during the period when the cerebellum undergoes a remarkable transformation from a smooth ovoid structure to a highly foliated structure. We show that both En1 and En2 are expressed in many neuronal cell types in the cerebellum, and expression persists until at least P21. En1 and En2 expression, however, undergoes profound changes in their cellular and spatial distributions between embryonic stages and P21, and their expression domains become largely distinct. Comparison of the distribution of En-expressing Purkinje cells relative to early- and late-onset Purkinje cell M-L stripe proteins revealed that although En1- and En2-expressing Purkinje cell domains do not strictly align with those of ZEBRINII at P21, a clear pattern exists that is most evident at E17.5 by an inverse correlation between the level of En2 expression and PLCß4 and EPHA4.