Ldb1 and Rnf12-dependent regulation of Lhx2 controls the relative balance between neurogenesis and gliogenesis in retina.
Precise control of the relative ratio of retinal neurons and glia generated during development is essential for visual function. We show that Lhx2, which encodes a LIM-homeodomain transcription factor essential for specification and differentiation of retinal Muller glia, also plays a critical role in the development of retinal neurons. Overexpression of Lhx2, and its transcriptional coactivator Ldb1, triggers cell cycle exit and inhibits both Notch signaling and retinal gliogenesis. Lhx2/Ldb1 overexpression also induced the formation of wide-field amacrine cells (wfACs). In contrast Rnf12, which encodes a negative regulator of LDB1 protein expression, is necessary for the initiation of retinal gliogenesis. We also show that LHX2 protein binds upstream of multiple neurogenic bHLH factors including Ascl1 and Neurog2, which are necessary for suppression of gliogenesis and wfAC formation respectively, and activates their expression. Finally, we demonstrate that the relative level of the LHX2-LDB1 complex in the retina decreases in tandem with the onset of gliogenesis. These findings show that control of Lhx2 function by Ldb1 and Rnf12 acts as a molecular mechanism underpinning the coordinated differentiation of neurons and Muller glia in postnatal retina.
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