Indexed on: 26 May '20Published on: 12 Jul '19Published in: Scientific Reports
The morphogenesis of the nervous system requires coordinating the specification and differentiation of neural precursor cells, the establishment of neuroepithelial tissue architecture and the execution of specific cellular movements. How these aspects of neural development are linked is incompletely understood. Here we inactivate a major regulator of embryonic neurogenesis - the Delta/Notch pathway - and analyze the effect on zebrafish central nervous system morphogenesis. While some parts of the nervous system can establish neuroepithelial tissue architecture independently of Notch, Notch signaling is essential for spinal cord morphogenesis. In this tissue, Notch signaling is required to repress neuronal differentiation and allow thereby the emergence of neuroepithelial apico-basal polarity. Notch-mediated suppression of neurogenesis is also essential for the execution of specific morphogenetic movements of zebrafish spinal cord precursor cells. In the wild-type neural tube, cells divide at the organ midline to contribute one daughter cell to each organ half. Notch signaling deficient animals fail to display this behavior and therefore form a misproportioned spinal cord. Taken together, our findings show that Notch-mediated suppression of neurogenesis is required to allow the execution of morphogenetic programs that shape the zebrafish spinal cord.