Transcription factor Sox11b is involved in spinal cord regeneration in adult zebrafish.
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Adult zebrafish have the ability to recover from spinal cord injury and exhibit re-growth of descending axons from the brainstem to the spinal cord. We performed gene expression analysis using microarray to find damage-induced genes after spinal cord injury, and found that Sox11b mRNA is up-regulated at 11 days after injury. However, the functional relevance of Sox11b for regeneration is not known. Here, we report that the up-regulation of Sox11b mRNA after spinal cord injury is mainly localized in ependymal cells lining the central canal and in newly differentiating neuronal precursors or immature neurons. Using an in vivo morpholino-based gene knockout approach, we demonstrate that Sox11b is essential for locomotor recovery after spinal cord injury. In the injured spinal cord, expression of the neural stem cell associated gene Nestin, and the proneural gene Ascl1a (Mash1a), which are involved in the self-renewal and cell fate specification of endogenous neural stem cells, respectively, is regulated by Sox11b. Our data indicate that Sox11b promotes neuronal determination of endogenous stem cells and regenerative neurogenesis following spinal cord injury in the adult zebrafish. Enhancing Sox11b expression to promote proliferation and neurogenic determination of endogenous neural stem cells after injury may be a promising strategy in restorative therapy after spinal cord injury in mammals.
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