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The Pax6 gene encodes a regulatory transcription factor that is key in brain development. The molecular structure of Pax6, the roles it plays and its patterns of expression in the brain have been highly conserved during vertebrate evolution. As neurodevelopment proceeds, the Pax6 expression changes from the mitotic germinal zone in the ventricular zone to become distributed in cell groups in the adult brain. Studies in various vertebrates, from fish to mammals, found that Pax6 expression is maintained in adults in most regions that express it during development. Specifically, in amphibians Pax6 is widely expressed in the adult brain and its distribution pattern serves to highlight regional organization of the brain. In the present study we analyzed the detailed distribution of Pax6 cells in the adult central nervous system of lungfishes, the closest living relatives of all tetrapods. Immunohistochemistry was performed using double labeling techniques with several neuronal markers of known distribution patterns served to evaluate the actual location of Pax6 cells. Our results show that Pax6 expression is maintained in the adult brain of lungfishes, in distinct regions of the telencephalon (pallium and subpallium), diencephalon, mesencephalon, hindbrain, spinal cord and retina. The pattern of Pax6 expression is largely shared with amphibians and helps to understand the primitive condition that would have characterized the common ancestors to all sarcopterygians (lobe-finned fishes and tetrapods), in which Pax6 would be needed to maintain specific entities of subpopulations of neurons. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.
This article was published in the following journal.
Name: The Journal of comparative neurology
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