Indexed on: 26 Nov '11Published on: 26 Nov '11Published in: Development (Cambridge, England)
The spinal cord contains a diverse array of physiologically distinct interneuron cell types that subserve specialized roles in somatosensory perception and motor control. The mechanisms that generate these specialized interneuronal cell types from multipotential spinal progenitors are not known. In this study, we describe a temporally regulated transcriptional program that controls the differentiation of Renshaw cells (RCs), an anatomically and functionally discrete spinal interneuron subtype. We show that the selective activation of the Onecut transcription factors Oc1 and Oc2 during the first wave of V1 interneuron neurogenesis is a key step in the RC differentiation program. The development of RCs is additionally dependent on the forkhead transcription factor Foxd3, which is more broadly expressed in postmitotic V1 interneurons. Our demonstration that RCs are born, and activate Oc1 and Oc2 expression, in a narrow temporal window leads us to posit that neuronal diversity in the developing spinal cord is established by the composite actions of early spatial and temporal determinants.