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SOX11 target genes : implications for neurogenesis and neuropsychiatric illness

Sha, Li and Kitchen, Rob and Porteous, David and Blackwood, Douglas and Muir, Walter and Pickard, Benjamin (2012) SOX11 target genes : implications for neurogenesis and neuropsychiatric illness. Acta Neuropsychiatrica, 24 (1). pp. 16-25.

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Abstract

Deficits in adult and embryonic neurogenesis have been linked with neurological and psychiatric disorders, so it is important to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying this process. SOX11 is a transcription factor known to play a critical role in the regulation of the neuronal and glial differentiation stage of neurogenesis, so we hypothesised that the identification of its target genes would reveal underlying biological processes relevant to disease. SOX11 protein was over-expressed in HEK293 cells and transcriptional changes assessed by microarray analysis. Selected candidate genes were further tested for SOX11 activation in quantitative reverse transcriptase PCR studies of HEK293 cells and Western analysis of SH-SY5Y cells. Regulated genes included a previously established SOX11 target, known markers of neurogenesis, as well as several genes implicated in neuropsychiatric disorders. Immunofluorescence localised several of the genes within the proliferative subgranular zone of the hippocampus. We observed multiple histone and zinc finger genes regulated by SOX11, many of which were located in two clusters on chromosomes 6 and 19. The chromosome 6 cluster lies within a region of the genome showing the strongest genetic association with schizophrenia. SOX11 appears to regulate a complex programme of chromatin remodelling and downstream gene expression changes to achieve a mature neuronal phenotype. SOX11 target genes are shown to be involved in neurodevelopmental processes important in health and, potentially, disease.